Preventive repression: Protest policing in New Delhi

Average Number of Protests in New Delhi from 2016 till 2020


States view protests as disruptive and police them. Scholarship points to selective policing of protests that endanger law and order as well as those organized by minority groups. A common form of protest policing in cities is requiring protestors to obtain permits in advance. We use interviews with protestors and the police in New Delhi to examine their perception of protest policing. We test these perceptions empirically using an original dataset of 4,921 protest applications submitted to the Delhi police between 2016 and 2019. We find that the rejection of protest applications is driven by the disruptive threat that they pose rather than the identity of the protesting group. However, the police disproportionately flag protest applications by religious minorities for threat assessment. A postcolonial police force, which privileges preservation of order over its other functions, regularly curtails the democratic freedom to protest.

Journal of Urban Affairs
Rahul Hemrajani
Rahul Hemrajani
Assistant Professor

My research centers around the empirical analysis and evaluation of judicial institutions. My research interests also include legal education in India, the conflict between legal and religious obligations as well as the interpretation of procedural rights in the Indian constitution.