Against the background of the series of violent protests across the country regarding the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2019, Mumbai saw a peaceful protest conducted by over 1500 students at the Kalina Campus on yesterday. Protesters stood in solidarity with counterparts from other universities who suffered from police brutality, especially in Delhi.
It started off slowly and gathered momentum. At 2 pm there were around 31 policemen deployed at the main gate of the campus, just two hours before the demonstration was scheduled to start. Asked what the plans were in case the situation changed rapidly, a policeman said they would handle it peacefully as their main aim was to keep the situation calm.
At around 3pm more policemen arrived at the campus and were ready to handle any situation. According to Additional CP Manoj Sharma in The Indian Express, 500 policemen were deployed at all the gates of the campus. They were equipped with lathis and 6 police vans were also kept ready. However, there were no signs of law enforcement personnel in riot gear.
At 3.45 pm, college students, professors and activists started arriving outside the main gate with placards and banners and the protesters started chanting slogans and beating drums. “Tanashahi Nahi Sahenge” and “Laathi Maar Nahi Sahenge” were heard. Abhishek Bhatt, a member of the Joint Action Committee formed to fight for justice after the suicide of Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad in 2016, was handling the protest. He took charge in distributing placards and negotiating terms and conditions in a friendly manner with the police officers.
“The CAA is against the spirit of India’s Constitution”, said Suvarna Salve of Samata Kala Manch, a leading organization in the students’ movement. She also said that it’s good to see so many youngsters coming out and taking part in such demonstrations. The slogans became bolder. “Delhi Police Murdabad,” and “Woh Hitler ki maut marega” were among the milder ones.
Many protestors stood out uniquely. One of them was a girl with a cross over the word “CAB” painted on her cheek, clad in black, bearing a placard saying, “Stand with Jamia”. Another group and placard that stood out said, “Queers against targeting Muslims.”
Although the protesters were loud and aggressive while chanting slogans, they did not misbehave with the police. They sat down in a circle with their placards, while police and media personnel surrounded them. Police personnel worked amicably with the protestors and managed to conclude the demonstration without any causalities. The protestors ended the demonstration with the national anthem.
Written by journalism students Kunal Hariani and Ananya Endow
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