Delhi Police Arrive at Venue Hosting Event Critical of G20 Summit, Stop People From Entering

Among those who were scheduled to speak at the 'We20' workshops today are Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, food sovereignty advocate Vandana Shiva, and Janata Dal (United) MP Aneel Hegde.

New Delhi: Delhi Police on Saturday, August 19, arrived at the Surjeet Bhawan in New Delhi, where a meeting which is critical of the G20 summit is taking place. 

The Wire has learnt that around 30 policemen arrived at the venue for the ‘We20 People’s Summit’ early today and stopped people from entering it, citing that the organisers did not have “permission” for the event. They also asked some who had gathered inside to move out, organisers said.

Writer and political activist Kavita Kabeer, who is part of the organising committee of the event, said “But these are closed hall meetings and don’t really need permission.”

Cops are at present stationed at both gates and are actively stopping people from entering the premises, it is learnt. Security forces in uniform other than Delhi Police’s are also present.

As per Kabeer, the police initially asked people to leave but after people resisted, they stopped and have currently restricted themselves to preventing entry into Surjeet Bhawan.

Police have additionally placed barricades around the venue.

Barricades placed by police at the New Delhi venue of the ‘We20’ summit. Photo: By arrangement.

The event was “well informed” and the organisers had taken permission from the owners to hold these sessions in Surjeet Bhawan, they said. 

Among those who are speaking at the workshops today are Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, food sovereignty advocate Vandana Shiva, and Janata Dal (United) MP Aneel Hegde. Scheduled today is a talk titled ‘Does Modi Administration Really Deliver on Tackling Climate Change, to Protect Environment, Biodiversity & Associated Human Rights, as claimed with G20 & Other Global Fora?’. It is being attended by over 100 people, the organisers have said.

“What is this system afraid of? Are they going to muzzle even democratic meetings in closed halls?” asked activist Medha Patkar, who also participated in the inaugural ceremony yesterday.

A source at the location who did not want to be named said that the police arrived at around 11 am. They said that the organizers did not have permission to conduct the event, and that it should be canceled. They would have to “seal the premises”, they said. 

We asked them to give it in writing but they refused, the source said. The police also asked for a list of people participating in the event and that it be given to the DCP.

Numerous programmes have been conducted in Surjeet Bhawan but that this is the first time an event is being “sealed off” this way, the source said.  

“We request the police to come and address the media, from our platform, instead of curbing our right to democratic dialogue,” the organisers said.

This summit is organised by over 70 peoples’ movements, trade unions and civil society organisations, with an intent to democratically discuss peoples’ issues in the context of G20.

Over 500 economists, activists, journalists and politicians from across the country are taking part in it.

The inaugural event had placed at the front and centre the fact that the G20 is an “informal elite club” of traditional and selected powers whose decisions impact the policies and financial architecture of the whole world.

It highlighted India’s enormous “Rs 51 crore” outdoor advertising budget as host. In the process of beautifying cities, the speakers highlighted how “the poor and their homes have not just been hidden, they have been evicted and their homes bulldozed in the cities where G20 meetings took place.”