'Can't use umbrellas': Cops at Mumbai Bagh tell women sitting in hot sun

Updated: Feb 25, 2020, 07:30 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Cops say the orders have come from their superiors; they also block Std XII students appearing for their physics exam.

Mumbai police personnel at the site told protesters to get rid of their umbrellas. Pics/ Pradeep Dhivar
Mumbai police personnel at the site told protesters to get rid of their umbrellas. Pics/ Pradeep Dhivar

After serving notices to Mumbai Bagh protesters, the Mumbai Police appear to be trying new ways to make them vacate the protest site they have been at for almost a month. Protesters and residents alleged on Monday that police barricaded the entrance near Arabia Hotel in Nagpada, disallowed citizens, including Std XII students on their way to board exam centres, to enter or exit Morland Road, and made protesters get rid of their umbrellas on orders from superiors.

Protestor Shakila Sayed, said, "Many of us had come to join the protest and police refused to let us in. There were many Std XII students who were appearing for their Physics exam and police weren't allowing them to pass. They said we'll let the students go once you vacate the road."

Another protester, Mariam Khan, 48, said that when they tried to reason with the police, they said they had orders not to allow people inside. "We had an argument with the police and we raised slogans for around half-an-hour, after which they allowed people to go. They are just trying to harass us so that we will stop the protest. But this only makes us more determined to continue protesting for our rights," she said. Some protesters said that police noted the names of the people entering the site and recorded the proceedings on video at around 10.30 am.

After being told several times, most of the women had to shut their umbrellas. PIC/PRADEEP DHIVARAfter being told several times, most of the women had to shut their umbrellas

Majid Modi, a resident of Fatima Apartments located at Morland Road, said the police did not let him exit the road. "I had to go to work. My motorbike was parked on the main road near Arabia Hotel and the police asked me to take another route that is a 20- to 25-minute walk. They did not even allow a delivery person who had come to drop the LPG gas cylinder. I had to drag it all the way home," he said.

Later during the day, when mid-day was at Mumbai Bagh, local police were seen telling protesters sitting under the hot sun to get rid of their umbrellas. The maximum average temperature in the city on Monday was 33°C and the humidity was 84 per cent.

A police officer at the site requesting anonymity said that they had been ordered by superiors to get rid of the umbrellas and urge the protesters to vacate the site.

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Khan said that police come up with new ways to discourage protesters from continuing. "They come every day with new tactics. We brought our own umbrellas from home because we sit under the hot sun all day. How can they take them from us?" she said. After being told several times, except for a couple of elderly women, the rest of the protesters moved under the shade at the edge of the road.

When contacted, Shalini Sharma, senior inspector of Nagpada police, denied claims of the entrance being blocked and said that protesters were not cooperating. "We allowed senior citizens who protest inside as well as school and college students and residents to enter. We only stopped men who work nearby and get in which makes it difficult to manage the crowd. If there are too many people we have to let them inside in a queue," she said. Sharma did not respond to a specific query about protesters being asked to close their umbrellas.

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