The Andhra Pradesh police scuttled a planned protest by activists of Anonymous and Free Software Movement of India (FSMI) against curbs on Internet freedom.

Even as software engineers, students and some other campaigners began to assemble near People's Plaza on the Necklace Road here, police reached the place and refused permission.

A senior police official threatened FSMI activists with arrest and confiscation of all protest material and T-shirts. They also asked the Anonymous group members to remove their masks. While some obeyed, others refused and continued to attract attention of onlookers.

The activists contended that theirs was a token protest and they had no plans to organise a rally. “We would like to prove a point. We would like to protect the rights of people on the Internet,” Mr Y. Kiran Chandra, General Secretary of FSMI, told Business Line.

One protestor said that they are not an organisation and that they have no leader. “We even don't know each other. We formed a Facebook group and spread the word on the campaign against the increasing Government curbs on the Internet. We have gathered here to protest against such moves. We will disburse in a while,” he argued.

The police, however, were not in a mood to listen. “You can form online groups. But you cannot gather in a physical world without taking police permission. No matter what you are protesting against, you need to take permission,” he said.

After hour-long arguments, the police spoke to higher officials who directed them to be shifted to Indira Park. The protestors left the venue with a police patrol team piloting them.

kurmanath@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 9, 2012)
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