Historic Azad Maidan, the well-known ground in south Mumbai meant for holding protest meetings and rallies, witnessed almost two rallies everyday at an average of 704 visitors or participants assembling at ground in the calendar year 2018.
A Right to Information query filed by the RTI activist Anil Galgali has found that Azad Maidan Witnessed 638 protest meets and rallies in the year 2018 with 2.58 lakh people participating it.
The reply given by the Mumbai Police says that the protesters were from several political parties, various social and non-profit organisations, students, Muslims, Christians and others.
Galgali had sought information from Mumbai police to furnish information of the last three years as to how many protest meets and political rallies were held in the Azad Maidan and how many protesters or participants assembled in the protest venue.
Azad Maidan police station, under whose jurisdiction the Azad Maidan falls, keeps a record of all meetings and protest rallies here. In the RTI reply, the station said that most of the protests and rallies were taken out by various social and non-profit organisations, though political parties also gathered here.
Reply says that out of total 638 protest rallies, 301 were carried out by the social organisations in which 40,101 protesters participated while merchant bodies and others conducted 167 rallies in which 87,746 protesters participated. During the year, 68 protest rallies were held by labour organisations, nine rallies by student organisations, nine rallies by Muslim organisations while Christian and other tribal communities held 44 protest events.
Interestingly, the political parties did not conduct too many protest meets. Bhartiya Janta Party (5 rallies), National Congress Party (one rally), Congress (12 rallies), Bahujan Samajwadi Party (4 rallies) and RPI (15 rallies) collectively took out only 29 rallies, while Shiv Sena and Samajwadi Party did not hold even a single event.
Galgali has written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis demanding state authorities to devise a mechanism that works as a bridge between the protesters and the state administration. He has demanded that a high-ranked state official be deputed at the Azad Maidan, besides making it mandatory for ministers to visit Azad Maidan and listen to grievances sympathetically.