Bengaluru: 'Small' protest against CAA draws big crowd

Bengaluru: 'Small' protest against CAA draws big crowd

A protester shows a banner equating Hitler with Modi, in Gandhinagar on Tuesday. DH PHOTO/AKHIL KADIDAL

Over a thousand people participated in a protest on Tuesday against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the police action at Jamia Millia Islamia University. 

The event, originally slated to start at Town Hall, was delayed after police closed off the venue for anti-CAA protesters on the grounds that they had not been granted permission to access the site. But police allowed a protest gathering by the barber community during the same time slot. 

City police chief Bhaskar Rao said he had no intention of giving anti-CAA protesters permission to hold protests within city limits, saying the problem of other places should not be imported to Bengaluru. 

"Bengaluru is the destination of choice for business, education and investment, and creating a law and order crisis on its streets would not be advisable. The business would break down, shops would close down. It is my duty to see that the city is running peacefully," he said. 

Another senior officer said these protests were the result of a lack of understanding about the new law. "The idea that some Indians may be made stateless is based on unfounded fears," the officer said. 

However, many of the Generation Z protesters involved in Tuesday's protests said they did not believe this claim. 

Mirika, 20, a student who hails from Mumbai, said she took part in the protest because she worries that the CAA poses a clear and present danger to India's pluralistic democracy. Another marcher, Vaishnav Suresh, 21, a student activist who helped lead the march to Freedom Park, said the disgust of many young Indians at the Modi government's attempt to alter the nature of India had drawn large numbers to the rally. 

"There is nothing democratic about this bill; it is the product of a deeply fascist state which is toying with the country's future," she said. 

Equating the CAA to fascism and even British repression during colonialism were common themes among protesters. One young marcher carrying a large placard lumped the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, with Narendra Modi. 

A senior official suggested that outsiders are largely to blame for these agitations. "Tellingly, Karnataka Muslim organisations are not engaging in these protests," he argued. 

The protest was catalysed by a WhatsApp announcement by a 25-strong group of female students from Mount Carmel College that they would organise a small protest at Town Hall. To their surprise, the announcement went viral.

'A message to govt'

Faisal, 33, who owns a startup in Indiranagar and describes himself as apolitical, said he had been driven to the protest because of the message it would send to society. "If enough people protest against the Act, the government will have to realise that there is opposition to the law," he said. 

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