Historian Ramachandra Guha, who had arrived at Town Hall to protest against the Citizen (Amendment) Act (CAA), was among several who were forcibly detained by the Silver Jubilee Park police on Thursday.
With city police commissioner Bhaskar Rao clamping Section 144 late Wednesday evening, a 100-strong unit of police officers led by S J Park police inspector S K Tanveer Ahmed got down to business and rounded up those defying the orders.
Guha (61) was interacting with reporters when he was interrupted mid-sentence. “The police are working under directions from the central government. We are protesting non-violently against a discriminatory act, in a disciplined way. Look here, everyone is protesting peacefully. Have you seen any violence?” questioned Guha who was by then dragged by a police constable. When Guha tried to argue, he was hauled bodily towards a police bus for detention.
After ejecting Guha and about 30 other protesters from Town Hall, police began to focus on the second group of about 100 which gathered across the street 20 minutes later.
Using brute force, a police platoon began to haul protesters into a private bus.
When some resisted, they were shoved and punched. Following this, Ahmed’s men began to move swiftly up Mysuru Road, not sparing any group which had over four people, not even bystanders. Then, the police ran out of vehicles to haul protesters into. In desperation, they tried to commandeer a truck transporting glass and tried to bundle a man into it. Police then moved to the Unity Building compound, ruthlessly ferreting anybody whom they believed was a protester.
Waseem Chishty (34), a techie, found himself directly in the target line. “I ducked into a restaurant and pretended to be a customer,” he said.
The trick worked. The police went after others. “They were going after the little people, the small groups, the people who were vulnerable, they were behaving like bullies,” Chishty added.
Rao defended his decision to impose Section 144 by saying that his intention was to safeguard the city’s reputation as an international destination for commerce and education.
Guha, who was released at 3.30 pm after being held at a kalyana mantapa in Adugodi with 126 others, retorted: “Dear Police Commissioner, your government’s decision has brought disgrace to this ‘international destination’. This was to be a peaceful protest by citizens who wish to uphold the values of our Constitution. You have used a colonial-era law to suppress us and our voices.”