Mumbai Bagh protesters: If the government is serious, it must pass a resolution against the CAA

Updated: Feb 14, 2020, 07:34 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

A group of women protesters from Mumbai Bagh met Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and NCP MP Supriya Sule over police harassment, and sought the resolution in the Vidhan Sabha

The BMC has begun work on Morland Road where women and students protesting against the CAA will continue with the agitation despite it. Pic/Bipin Kokate
The BMC has begun work on Morland Road where women and students protesting against the CAA will continue with the agitation despite it. Pic/Bipin Kokate

TWO days after members of the Mumbai Bagh Coordination Committee met police commissioner Sanjay Barve, a group of women protesters approached Supriya Sule, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) member of parliament, and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Thursday to voice their grievances about being harassed by the police. While Deshmukh had earlier given assurances that no one in Maharashtra would be affected by CAA-NRC-NPR, the protesters demanded that a resolution against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act be passed in the Vidhan Sabha, to make it official.

Varsha Vidya Vilas, a social activist from the Bharat Bachao Andolan, accompanied the congregation of 15 women who met Sule and Deshmukh. "We shared our concerns about the police who have been issuing multiple Section 149 notices to the same person and visiting people's homes to deliver the notices. If the government is serious about not implementing CAA in the state, they should pass a resolution in the Vidhan Sabha like other states," said Vilas.

Last week, the police had filed an FIR against 300 unknown people for allegedly obstructing road work based on a complaint filed by Alka Sasane, assistant municipal commissioner of E ward. After that, the Mumbai Police has been handing out notices under section 149 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, to the protesters.

'Will adjust for road work'
In order to resolve the issue, the protesters had met civic chief Praveen Pardeshi earlier this week and had promised to make way for pending road work. After a long interruption, the work on Morland Road resumed on Tuesday. "Our protest continues but we don't want to inconvenience anyone. We will adjust to allow the road work to continue," said Feroze Mithiborwala, one of the organisers of the protest.

An official from the Roads Department said the work on the road is expected to be completed before the monsoon. "There is some pipeline work on the part of the road where the protesters are sitting. But they move when we need to work and the job is progressing slowly," said the official. Another official said the work involves concretisation of 900 metres of Morland Road.

Members of the coordination committee including former and sitting MLAs had met commissioner Barve on Tuesday evening to request him to quash the FIR filed against protesters. Mithiborwala said the police have been issuing notices under section 149 to everyone in the area including a vendor who was selling bananas and are even visiting the women protesters in their homes to intimidate them.

'Quash the FIR'
While the members had publicly withdrawn their support from the Mumbai Bagh protest last week, they felt the protesters should be allowed to stay. Naseem Siddiqui, NCP leader and convenor of the Mumbai Bagh Coordination Committee said, "We requested the police commissioner to quash the FIR registered against the protesters and to stop handing out Section 149 notices. These protests are going on everywhere and these notices are being handed out only in Mumbai. The women are residents of Mumbai and should be allowed to protest."

'Legal procedure to be followed'
Commissioner Barve said the meeting was held to find a proper solution. "Notices have already been issued to a large number of people. They can protest but shift to a designated space," he said.

When asked about the FIR, Barve said, "We had a long discussion about the FIR that was filed by the BMC. We are looking at it and will take a call. An FIR cannot be done away with. There is a legal procedure for that and we will have to follow it."

Speaking at a press conference where he was questioned about the protest at Mumbai Bagh, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said, "A group of protesting women met me today. If the protesters move to a designated place, we will stop serving them Section 149 notices."

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