Anti-CAA protests: Police say no to rally, students say 'nothing can stop us'
Stopped at last moment from marching to CSMT, citizens turn morcha into protest gathering at Azad Maidan
Several students and activists preparing for a massive rally from Byculla to Azad Maidan against the citizenship law were in for a rude shock on Thursday when the Mumbai police denied permission for the Friday rally, forcing them to hold a protest gathering. They were, however, undeterred by the change at the last moment, saying nothing can stop them. Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve had on December 25 made comments supporting the CAA, and against protesters who came to the police seeking persmission.
The Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, which has organised the Inquilab Morcha, said the denial of approval was an attempt by the administration to sabotage the event. The organisers had planned to gather at Rani Baug in Byculla and take out the Inquilab Morcha to CSMT, but now will assemble at Azad Maidan for another massive gathering, like the one at August Kranti Maidan.
On December 19, close to 25,000 Mumbaikars took part in a demonstration against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register for Citizenship (NRC) at August Kranti Maidan. The committee was expecting a similar response for this rally, too, as it has received huge response on social media. Despite the last-minute change, they hope to get an enormous turnout.
"They might be thinking that such last-minute change might lead to confusion. But with the protest at August Kranti Maidan, Mumbaikars have already shown that nothing can stop us. We expect a much bigger crowd on Friday," said Fahad Ahmad, a PhD student at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
The police said they denied permission for the rally due to concerns about traffic congestion. "Protesters had decided to rally from Byculla to Azad Maidan. But during a meeting with them, we explained that it would cause huge inconvenience to Mumbaikars as it's a weekday and entire south Mumbai will choke. Also, the entrance for the meet has been changed so that it won't create hurdle for vehicles. Protesters heard our suggestions and have changed their plans accordingly," said Deputy commissioner (PRO) Pranay Ashok.
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