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Why is UP govt so afraid of activists holding meetings?, asks Sandeep Pandey

By Our Representative
In a statement in Lucknow one day after the Uttar Pradesh government barring eight activists from addressing scribes in Ayodhya, senior Magsaysay award winning social activist Sandeep Pandey and advocate Mohammad Shoaib have wondered, "Why is the government so afraid of us holding meetings?"
Claiming that there were five attacks on freedom of expression in 10 days, they by said, "On August 11 and 16, 2019, advocate Mohammad Shoaib, Sandeep Pandey, Rajeev Yadav and others were house arrested in their homes to prevent them for participating in candlelight demonstration in support of people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)."
Then, on August 17, 2019, Prof Ram Puniyani, Sandeep Pandey, Rajeev Yadav, Hafeez Kidwai "were stopped from proceeding towards Ayodhya to participate in a communal harmony meeting and sent back from Raunahi." This was followed on August 19, 2019, when Acharya Yugal Kishor Shashtri, Faisal Khan and Sandeep Pandey were "prevented from addressing a press conference at Ram Janaki temple in Ayodhya."
They were "detained and dropped at Ram Snehi Ghat in police jeep so that people who had come from outside would return to Lucknow and they would not be able to talk to press persons from Ayodhya."
And on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, "when Sandeep Pandey, Faisal Khan, Gopal Krishna Verma, Alok Singh, Usha Vishwakarma, Sharad Patel, Ravindra, etc. were holding an internal meeting at Gandhi Bhawan, Lucknow, a person from intelligence department asked whether they had permission for the meeting."
The statement asked, "If limited number of people sit inside a room to discuss something why should it be a matter of concern for the government?" It underlined, "The behaviour of government is as if it has done something wrong. If it was not so the government would not have so blatantly and frequently violated our fundamental rights to freedom of expression, freedom of forming organisation and freedom of holding meeting."

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