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Allahabad police 'blocks' women activists' move to commemorate anti-British Rani

By Our Representative 
In an unusual move, the Allahabad police on March 17 blocked commemoration of 200 years of courageous resistance against British imperialism by Rani Chennamma of Kittur, Karnataka, whose valour is compared with Rani Lakshmibhai of Jhansi.
The programme, part of the national campaign I Too Am Rani Chennamma was to take place on 17th March from 11am-3pm, Dharna Sthal, Civil Lines, Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad) to celebrate the legacy of Rani Chennamma.
The organisers were informed late on 16th March by the police that they will not allow them to do the programme. Despite reaching out to senior police officers and knocking at the doors of the District Magistrate late night, “no logic worked with the UP Police”, alleged a senior activist.
The chowki in charge sitting at the Dharna Sthal told the organisers, “You cannot display this exhibition here”, after he was shown the panels containing stories of women who fought against the Britishers and those who were part of writing the Constitution of India.
A media communique from the organisers of the programme alleged, “It was obvious that such women had no place in present Uttar Pradesh… Over 600 women were expected to participate in the programme from various backgrounds”, adding, “Before Allahabad the programme has been organised in more than 10 places across India.” The campaign was launched at Kittur Fort, Karnataka on February 21 in the presence of 3,500 women.
“We strongly condemn this act of the UP police and register our protest against the autocratic regime in power. The arbitrary unfairness at the eleventh hour and refusal of permission to peace loving women, decision to block the commemoration programme by the police violates our fundamental right to speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a), & to assemble peaceably under Article 19(1)(b)”, the communique said.
The idea to commemorate 200 years of Rani Chennamma’s revolt was initiated by Delhi-based human rights group, Anhad. Several women's groups and independent citizens from across India joined hands in the campaign in memory of the Rani’s struggleagainst oppression and to it carry forward.
Kittur's Rani Chennamma was one of the first women to lead a revolt against British rule in India. A fearless warrior, she stands tall as a symbol of resistance, embodying a love for freedom and self-respect, against the British rule.This year 2024 marks 200 of her revolt against British imperialism.
The UP police’s decision to block the campaign in Prayagraj effectively banned the display of the exhibition containing stories of valour and fearlessness of Rani Chennamma, Rani of Jhansi , Uda Devi Pasi, Begum Hazratmahal, Capt Luxmi Sahgal, Rani Avantibai Lodhi, Jhalkari Bai, Kamla Chaoudhary, Savitribai Phule , Fatima Shaikh, Sarojini Naidu, Aruna Asif Ali and others.
Shabnam Hashmi
“The Model Code of Conduct is being misused across India by those in power to crush all democratic activities. Those sitting in positions of power deliberately mislead people into believing that it means automatic implementation of section 144 which is absolutely wrong”, the communique insisted.
“Model Code of Conduct is meant for political parties and there are certain norms to be followed. It does not mean shutting down of all democratic activities”, it added.
In a statement, Anhad founder Shabnam Hashmi said, "The level of misinformation is so much that even activists, academics, politicians themselves believe that once Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is announced, you cannot do public programmes. This is absolute misinformation and a tool to curb dissent and democratic voices ."
Stating that there is "also no connection between MCC and section 144 CrPC", she underscored, "Section 144 CrPC does not automatically become applicable unless  specially announced for a particular area/ areas." 
Hashmi insisted, activists should not "give in to false propaganda by the police and administration. MCC is applicable to political parties and politicians. It is a set of rules to be followed while organising programs. Please read https://www.eci.gov.in/mcc/".

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