Ahmedabad: Anti-CAA Protesters Stop Police From Dismantling Their 'Mandap' During 'Janata Curfew', Secure Release of Two Youths
Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, MARCH 22—When people were observing ‘Janata Curfew’ all over the country on Sunday in response to an appeal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fight the scourge of coronavirus that has claimed over 11,000 lives all over the globe, hundreds of women turned up at the anti-CAA protest venue at Morarji Chowk in Rakhial area of Ahmedabad city to resist the police who were trying to dismantle their ‘mandap’(tents). They called the protest venue as 'Shaheen Bagh-Rakhial'.
Speaking to India Tomorrow over phone, one of the women protesters said that through a statement released on March 20, the protesters had announced to suspend their protest until the coronavirus threat is over and had also informed the police about it. Requesting anonymity as she feared police reprisal against her male family members for going to the press, she said that the protesters had promised the police they would resume their agitation only when it was confirmed that there was no risk of coronavirus.
However, the protesters had decided to keep their tents and stage etc intact on the venue itself because it is neither disturbing traffic nor the local population in any manner.
However, around 11.30 am on Sunday, a police team reached the protest venue and removed TVR set from CCTV camera installed at the place and also tried to dismantle the mandap. Just a few minutes before that, the police had also called two youths-Murshid Hussain (27) and Sabir Sheikh (28)-to Rakhial Police Station and detained them. Both the youths helped the protesters in making daily arrangements at the protest site.
According to the protesters, the police prepared a detailed report about the two youths, including their family and their friends etc. The police allegedly told them that they would be freed only after they removed the mandap or helped the police in the matter.
The news of police trying to dismantle the mandap and detention of the youths spread like a wildfire in the entire area where the protest was going on at two places for the last 53 days. Hundreds of women rushed to the protest venue and resisted the police from removing the mandap and also took back CCTV’s TVR from their possession. Some of them then rushed to Rakhial Police Station and secured release of the two youths.
Women protesters left the protest venue after Vasamsetty Ravi Teja, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone V), Ahmedabad City, reached the spot and gave an assurance to the women that the police would not remove mandap provided the protesters keep their promise of suspending the protest until the menace of coronavirus is over. Women told them that they were cooperating with the police and would continue to do so but the local police were trying to create problems and disturb the law and order situation. “We came to the protest site during ‘Janata Curfew’ only due to police provocation, not on our own”, alleged another protester over phone.
DCP Teja, however, could not be contacted over phone despite several efforts.