The venue for social activist Anna Hazare's fast and dharna here was finally decided as Azad Maidan, volunteers of ‘India Against Corruption' said here on Thursday, even as they informed that they had moved the Bombay High Court seeking “right to hold reasonable protest”.
“The protest will be held at Azad Maidan since the Chief Minister has refused to grant any concession to us. Even Anna ji refused to allow any of the volunteers to pay for the charges of the ground,” Preeti Sharma-Menon, a volunteer of IAC told The Hindu.
Team Anna had earlier taken permission to hold the protest at the MMRDA [Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority] ground at Bandra-Kurla Complex, but they would have had to pay charges of nearly Rs 19 lakh for the three-day dharna protest starting from December 27.
They had sought concession from the State government for the same, but they said it was refused as they are not a registered entity.
“We have filed a writ petition in the court against MMRDA and the State government requesting the court to intervene as the State government wants to usurp prohibitive costs for the protest. Our Constitutional right to protest is being affected due to it. They are levying commercial rates on us. If my organisation is not registered, am I not entitled to reasonable protest?” Praful Vora, volunteer of IAC, said.
The petition is expected to come up for hearing on Friday.
Mr. Vora said that the police had given them permission for Anna Hazare's fast and dharna at Azad Maidan here. But none of the senior police officials confirmed that the protest had been granted permission.
Despite repeated attempts, no senior police official clarified if any permission was granted to the protest and what preconditions were laid for it. Highly placed sources in the Mumbai Police however told The Hindu that the protesters had not been granted permission.
“Mumbai police have agreed to give permission. IAC will meet all the required compliances,” a note issued by IAC stated.