In a first, women launch 24-hour anti-CAA protest

In a first, women launch 24-hour anti-CAA protest

Over 400 women congregated in Pulikeshi Nagar (Fraser Town) on Thursday evening to mount a 24-hour continuous protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in defiance of police calls to vacate the area.

Organisers said the protest was launched not only to condemn the CAA, but also internet shutdowns, and what they described as “racial profiling”.

Dr Asifa Nisar, an Unani specialist by profession, described that the gathering, which was not cleared by the police, as a way to show the public’s disenchantment with the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

“We wanted to send a message about how brutal these laws are to the citizens of India, not only to Muslims. We have a right to our citizenship. Nobody can take it away,” she said.

S D Sharanappa, DCP (East) confirmed that the protest had not been green-lit to proceed. When asked if the police would move to vacate the protesters after a 10 pm deadline, the DCP added, “We have not yet decided on our course of action.”

At 10.30 pm, although the police asked the protesters to clear the area, the women refused to leave. They said they intend to stay until Friday afternoon. The protest appeared to be the fulfilment of a threat by activist leaders earlier this week that a less than satisfactory ruling by the Supreme Court in its first hearing on the CAA would see Bengaluru witness a Shaheen Bagh-like protest. Hum Bharat ke Log, the umbrella organisation responsible for organising Thursday’s protest, denied this.

“Shaheen Bagh is obviously an inspiration, but this protest was planned weeks ago,” an activist from the organisation said.

Strategic move

Earlier calls for overnight protests in the city had failed due to stringent police action. A planned 48-hour protest by students at the Freedom Park last Thursday collapsed after police threatened to file First Information Reports (FIRs) against the students.

Thursday’s protest, which took place on Hajee Sir Ismail Sait Masjid Road in Pulikeshi Nagar, was planned more strategically, according to Dr Nisar. “At an earlier gathering held at Town Hall and Freedom Park, police had an easier time clearing out protest groups. We also could not mobilise enough numbers of people,” she said.

“Since this protest is held in a residential area of Pulikeshi Nagar, we were able to reach out to more people living in these neighbourhoods, especially Muslims and people of other minority faiths,” she added.

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