Despite differences, CAA protest in Mumbai continues

Police presence in Mumbai Central on Saturday on the seventh day of the ongoing protest over CAA.

Police presence in Mumbai Central on Saturday on the seventh day of the ongoing protest over CAA.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

There were some reports of it being called off

Confusion reigned for a few hours on Saturday at the site of the anti-CAA protest in Agripada, now known as Mumbai Bagh, after one faction tried to call it off but others insisted on staying put. By Saturday night, however, the protest grew in numbers again, as women flocked to the scene.

The protest, which began on the night of January 26, has been carried forward mainly by women, who have been taking turns.

Reports of the protest being called off started doing the rounds on social media around 5 p.m. on Saturday. Within half an hour, however, there were messages denying this and saying only some people had stepped away. “There are multiple people involved and while some of them said they want to call it off, others did not agree. We have deployed bandobast in the area and are monitoring the situation closely,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone III) Abhinash Kumar said.

Protesters told The Hindu that disagreements cropped up after political parties increased their participation. The protesters expressed discomfort at a picture of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray being put up at the protest site. The picture is accompanied by a caption saying, Ek nazar idhar bhi (Please turn your attention on us as well), which seems to be a direct political attack.

“The protest was supposed to be against the CAA and the NRC. Making a direct hit at an individual hijacks the essence of the protest. Many of us were uncomfortable with this,” said one of the protesters, who has been participating every day.

The “calling off” of the protest seems to be an outcome of these differences. Nationalist Congress Party member Naseem Siddiqui, who is among the convenors, said the call to stop the protest was given out by Furqan Sayyed, a local party worker of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.

“Mr. Sayyed is part of the youth committee and was with us when we met the local police to discuss the situation. In front of everyone, he said he would go along with whatever my decision was. On Saturday, even as we were having a meeting with Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, we received word that Mr. Sayyed was asking everyone to call off the protest. He has not taken anyone’s calls since then, including his own party members,” Mr. Siddiqui said.

AIMIM spokesperson Waris Pathan was unavailable for the comment.

Asked about Mr Thackeray’s picture at the protest site, Mr Siddiqui said that it was only as a gesture of thanks for the State government’s stand on the CAA and the NRC.

Asma Khan, who said she has been here from the beginning, “There were rumours of a lathi charge. Some women got scared considering the firing at Shaheen Bagh, which in turn led to reports that the protest had been called off. This is when the police intervened and tried to move us.” An officer with the Nagpada police who was at the spot, however said there was no attempt to disperse the protesters.

“We have been getting reports of residents being disturbed due to the sloganeering at night. We rushed to the spot fearing that the situation had escalated.”

Kumar Attarwala, a resident of the Fatima building, however said, “Two days ago we had requested them to reduce sloganeering at night as it was disturbing those who were sleeping or studying, and they did so. In any case, this road has been blocked for six months for repairs. Now, when women are raising their voice for a good reason, why would we have a problem?”

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 1:51:30 PM |

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