Mumbai Bagh protests: Police brutality has made crowd bigger, say activists
Activist says cops' efforts at making women leave by giving them a hard time has only made them more committed to their demands
Ever since the alleged manhandling of women protesters under the watch of Nagpada senior police inspector Shalini Sharma at Mumbai Bagh last week, the number of protesters has swelled, with people being more driven about the stir, an activist tied to the protest has claimed.
Core committee member of the anti-CAA platform, Hum Bharat Ke Log, Feroze Mithiborwala said that the attendance at Morland Road had dipped recently. On March 6, police had torn down sheets put up by the protesters as a shield against the sun. A few women were injured in the incident.
"It is difficult for all baghs across the country to muster numbers at protest sites, especially in the early hours of the day," said Mithiborwala. "The attendance in the wee hours is usually low. But one must remember that in a sustained stir like this one, there are highs and lows."
Mithiborwala gave the example of how more women turned up when police tried to vacate the site on February 5. "On any given day, we have at least 40-50 women present. But on February 5 too, when we were told to vacate, it was the women who showed up in large numbers. They realise that when the bagh is under attack, they must come out in droves and defend the movement. The same is the case now.
"Also, the massive and impromptu rasta roko in the aftermath of the March 6 incident created massive support for Mumbai Bagh across the state and country. Ever since then, the movement has become jubilant and buoyant. Today, we have shade over our heads, a stage and a microphone at Mumbai Bagh." Though police have not given permission for any of these things, Mithiborwala said, they will keep applying for permits till the police agree to it.
When asked about differences between women protesters, who supposedly want Sharma to be transferred or suspended, and the politicians who have instead pushed for an internal inquiry, Mithiborwala said: "The point is you cannot have a dismissal without an enquiry. On the plus side, the enquiry into the police's behaviour on March 6 will reveal how they have been behaving with protesters for the past 40 days."
Mithiborwala is hopeful that police will take a step back and not create problems. "We had been telling the police since Day 1 that having a megaphone would be useful for coordination, but they wanted to make things difficult for us thinking we'd get tired and leave. But protesters have resisted and persisted, making everyone stronger and more committed towards the Bagh."
Day the Nagpada police tore down sheets put up to provide shade
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