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New Delhi: After reportedly being detained by police in Delhi for around seven hours on Thursday, October 6, around 100 members of central Afghanistan’s Hazara community who had gathered at Jantar Mantar to protest the recent suicide bombing in the Afghan capital, Kabul, have been released.
On September 30, a suicide attack at the Kaj Educational Institute in Daste Barchi, a Hazara-dominated community in Kabul, had rocked the world. A number of students were present at the Institute to take an entrance exam that Friday. While initial reports had put the number killed at 19 and those injured at 27, subsequent reports by the BBC have put the death toll at 53.
On Thursday, around 100 Hazaras residing in Delhi had decided to hold a protest at Jantar Mantar to condemn the Kaj bombing as well as the targetting of the Shi’a majority Hazara community in Afghanistan. While the Delhi police had reportedly granted permission for the gathering, this permission was allegedly revoked early Thursday morning.
A member of this gathering, scholar and activist Reza Ehsan, posted on Twitter claiming that after the crowd was told that the permission had been cancelled, as the members made their way to their buses to leave, they were detained by the Delhi police without explanation.
After cancellation people sent to their buses and wanted to leave Jantar Mantar, but police detained all, including women and children. They released women and children around 3:30 but the rest are still in detention. No lunch, not questions no nothing. Why they are in detention?
— Reza Ehsan (@REhsan2021) October 6, 2022
They had detain around 300, have released women and children but others are still in detention.
We had police permission for gathering in Jantar Nantar, we didn’t start protest as we heard that police has cancelled. we were near to our buses, but police came and detained everyone
— Essa hazara (@Essahazara3) October 6, 2022
Ehsan questioned the police’s decision, asking why intimation regarding the permission to gather being revoked wasn’t shared earlier and why the demonstrators were not allowed even to eat lunch.
“While, millions are joining #StopHazaraGenocide around the world, why would Delhi police try to silence the voice of those who share sympathy and remember the victims of #Kaaj Kabul attack?” Ehsan tweeted.
Within an hour of Ehsan’s initial tweets, rights group Amnesty International posted a series of tweets in which it detailed that the Delhi police had, indeed, arrested the demonstrators for gathering despite the denial of permission, which was denied citing “security/law and order arrangements” according to the rights group.
Right to protest is a human right and not a privilege. Any restriction to this must be guided by reasonable concerns about the place, time and manner of the protest, and must meet the requirements of necessity and proportionality.
— Amnesty India (@AIIndia) October 6, 2022
Amnesty contended that the “failure to meet administrative requirements should not render an assembly unlawful” and held that it can not be a basis to arrest people. Noting that the right to protest is a right and not a privilege, the rights group said that any restriction to this right should be necessary and proportionate.
Ehsan, who wrote on Twitter that he was posting from “Madanmarg” police station, ostensibly referring to the Mandir Marg station in the area, noted that while women and children were allowed to leave at around 3:30 pm, 45 others remained in custody until evening.
At 7:01 pm, Ehsan tweeted that he and the 45 other detainees were released from custody. He also noted that the demonstrators were allowed to continue their protests and chant slogans against the killing of Hazaras from within the station.
Thanks for your support, concerns and follow ups. Finally, After 8 hours of detention, @DelhiPolice released us and shared that they stopped the gathering due to security concerns.
We, organised our gathering inside the Detention centre and shouted#StopHazaraGenocide https://t.co/e0PBRP0ld5
— Reza Ehsan (@REhsan2021) October 6, 2022
Finally, after 7 hours of detention, Delhi police released all th remaining protesters who were in detention.
Police said that they were trying stop gathering because of security concerns.@Essahazara3 @official_sirat @FawadAman2 @REhsan2021 @Etilaatroz @HashteSubhDaily pic.twitter.com/C8iQad9f0W
— Mahdi Rahimi (@MahdiRahimi123) October 6, 2022
Thereafter, the Association for Hazara Voice for Justice (AHVJ) published a statement on Twitter describing the detention as a “small halt” but lauding the support and media coverage the demonstration received.
“We shared our message loudly and clearly with the Indian audience and the world about the ‘genocide of Hazaras’ in Afghanistan. Today(‘s) gathering and protest was up to satisfaction,” the AHVJ statement read.
بیانیه ستاد برگزاری گردهمایی در دهلی نو، هند.
Statement of the headquarters holding a gathering in New Delhi, India.@MahdiRahimi123 @Essahazara3 @REhsan2021 #StopHazaraGenocide pic.twitter.com/prDb9BxWef
— Zaman Sirat (@official_sirat) October 6, 2022
The statement went on to thank not just the Indian media but also the government and the Delhi police for allowing the programme to continue from within the police station.