Anti-CAA protests: Mumbai joins India at August Kranti Maidan

Updated: Dec 20, 2019, 10:52 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

A city perennially ridiculed for its apathy wakes up from its slumber to join nation-wide protests against the Citizenship Act and the proposed NRC, thanks to its youth and woke students

Protesters at August Kranti Maidan. Pics/ Atul Kamble
Protesters at August Kranti Maidan. Pics/ Atul Kamble

Mumbai showed just how a perfect, peaceful protest is conducted as a humongous crowd of over 25,000 converged at Grant Road's August Kranti Maidan on Thursday against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

While a major chunk of the protesters were youngsters from all walks of life — college students and working professionals — there were several older adults, senior citizens and even schoolchildren present to register their protest against the CAA and NRC. The three-hour show of solidarity began with student leaders requesting the crowd to behave responsibly and avoid untoward incidents.

A woman holds up a placard with an anti-CAA slogan
A woman holds up a placard with an anti-CAA slogan

Both, the participants and Mumbai police contributed in ensuring a peaceful, disciplined rally which focused on the issue at hand. It did not take very long for the allotted garden to be filled with participants and another section was opened to accommodate more people. According to Mumbai police, between 22,000 and 25,000 people participated.

Aftaab, 21, and Yasir, 19, students at HR College and Siddhartha College respectively, said they had the 'blessing of their elders'. "My mother told me that she was proud to know that we are here. Delhi Police should learn from Mumbai police about ensuring peace and security," Aftaab said. "My father helped me make this placard," said Yasir.

Protesters on the roof of a restaurant next to August Kranti Maidan on Thursday
Protesters on the roof of a restaurant next to August Kranti Maidan on Thursday

Slogans such as, 'Hindu Muslim ek hain, Modi Shah fake hai', 'Humara irada mek hai, Modi Shah fake hain', "Awaz do, hum ek hain, ladenge, jitenge', 'Inquilab zindabad, chatra ekta zindabad', 'Jodo jodo Bharat jodi' dominated the scene. The participants also held a two-minute silence and pledged to stand against the two laws.

"Both laws are discriminatory; they do not abide by the Constitution. I cannot sit at home while such discriminatory laws are being passed by the government," said Pearl Jain, a student of Liberal Arts at NMIMS. Anushka Samant from L S Raheja School of Architecture said, "Both laws are bullshit and we have to stand against it. I do not know how these protests are going to help but it is important to protest."

Protesters sent their message across with creative posters and placards
Protesters sent their message across with creative posters and placards

Media students from Siddharth College, Janmenjay Kadam, said, "If you want to give citizenship to the oppressed, why exclude Ahmadis, Tamils from Srilanka or even Rohingyas. This shows the discriminatory nature of these laws; as youngsters it is our responsibility to stand against this."

Uniformed school kids were Thursday's head-turners. Aaliya Ramakrishnan, 16, from Bombay International School in Babulnath, came with her friends and cousins. "I had questions regarding the issue and my school and parents explained it to me. It is only correct to stand for the cause," said Aaliya. Her mother, Shabanam Minwala, said, "Children in today's information age are aware. It is a good thing that they have a point of view and have come to witness the magnitude of the issue."

A protester seen rallying against CAA and NRC at August Kranti Maidan
A protester seen rallying against CAA and NRC at August Kranti Maidan

One of the highlights of the rally was posters made by the protesters. 'Hindu hun *$#&% nahi', 'Pyar bato, desh nahi', '55 inch jab darta hai, 144 impose karta hai', 'chai wale teri chai secular nahi hai', 'Modi tum chai becho, desh nahi', read some of them. Apart from sloganeering, original songs were also performed on the stage set up at the venue.

Volunteer Siddhant Wathore, 19, an NIT Nagpur student who hails from Thane, said, "When I realised I can be of help, I gladly took up the responsibility." Volunteers were taught how to take videos if untoward incidents take place. The volunteers also had a back-up plan to keep in touch via Bluetooth in case mobile networks failed. Volunteer Sarthak Shrivastava, 26, a working professional, said, "There cannot be any issue that takes precedence over the protest's aim and we are here to ensure that along with the Mumbai Police."

25k
The approximate number of people who turned up to protest at August Kranti, according to senior police officers

With inputs from Gaurav Sarkar

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