New Delhi: Countrywide protests against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) intensifed on Thursday with hundreds, including Left leaders, such as Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, activist Yogendra Yadav and John Dayal, historian Ramchandra Guha, detained for taking part in anti-citizenship law stir defying prohibitory orders, while rail and roads services were hit in Bihar during a bandh called by Left parties.
In Delhi, Section 144 was imposed by Delhi Police in the heart of the city in Red Fort and Mandi House area, but that did not deter scores of students and activists from converging there to raise their voice against CAA and the police crackdown in Jamia Millia Islamia and the Aligarh Muslim University.
Telecom operators, Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio, also suspended internet, voice and messaging services in parts of Delhi-NCR following instructions from the police in the wake of protests.
As per the order, services were suspended for locations including walled city areas of north and central districts, Mandi House, Seelampur, Jaffarbad, Mustafabad, Jamia Nagar, Shaheen Bagh and Bawana.
In Delhi, the agitators were put into buses in a bid to clear the Red Fort area. And reportedly taken to Bawana stadium on the outskirts of the city. Holding placards and shouting slogans, the protesters allowed themselves to be escorted to the buses. Swarajya Abhiyan chief Yogendra Yadav was among those detained.
"I have just been detained from Lal Qila. About a thousand protesters already detained. Thousands on the way. Am told we are being taken to Bawana," Yadav tweeted.
Two protests were scheduled in the national capital, one by students and activists and the other by left parties. The two marches are to meet at Shaheen Park near ITO.
Left leaders D Raja, Sitaram Yechury, Nilotpal Basu, Brinda Karat, Hannan Mollah, Prakash Karat, among others were detained at Mandi House.
"We are being detained," CPI general Secretary D Raja told PTI just before he was put into a bus by the police.
In Bengaluru, Guha, activist Geeta Menon and many others were detained at the Town Hall area, in defiance of the prohibitory orders imposed in the city. He was taken away by police personnel and led to a vehicle parked nearby.
Even some protesters who were standing alone were detained, which is not a violation of Section 144, both in Bengaluru and Delhi, as per tweets by some of them.
Reacting to his detention, Guha said it was "absolutely undemocratic" that police were not allowing even a peaceful protest, which is the democratic right of citizens.
Police also detained hundreds of people, including more than 30 students from National Law University who had gathered outside Town Hall on Thursday morning.
Kalaburgi in Karnataka also saw a huge protest against CAA and NRC. Thousands of protesters started assembling in public places and the police had started detaining the protesters. However, the bus in which the protesters were made to get into, to be taken to the police station, was surrounded by thousands of protesters and the bus was not allowed to move for hours. The protest continued peacefully.
Curfew in Mangaluru
Police lobbed tear gas shells, resorted to baton charge and fired in the air to disperse anti-CAA protesters in Mangaluru, as thousands of demonstrators hit the streets in many cities and towns across Karnataka on Thursday defying prohibitory orders.
Police said vehicles were set on fire and stones hurled at personnel as protesters allegedly went on the rampage in Mangaluru, adding that they “retaliated” by firing in the air to warn them after tear gas shells and a baton-charge proved futile.
Religious preachers too made a fervent appeal to people through loudspeakers of a place of worship not to resort to violence.
The Mangaluru police commissioner has imposed curfew with immediate effect till the midnight of Friday in Central sub-division of the city covering five police stations, a top district official told PTI.
In Kolkata, the Left Front took out a massive rally, joining the country-wide protests by Opposition parties against the amended Citizenship Act and the proposed NRC in the country.
Senior CPI(M) leader Surjyakanta Mishra said: "This is the time to foil BJP's dangerous game plan to divide the country. The Left will do everything to protect the country's integrity and secularism."
Several eminent personalities and activists, such as actors Aparna Sen and Kaushik, Sen took out a separate protest march against CAA and NRC.
In a another rally, Trinamool Congress supremo and state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called for a UN-monitored referendum over the amended Citizenship Act and the proposed nationwide NRC. She said BJP will have to quit if it fails such a "mass vote".
Adressing a rally at Rani Rashmoni Avenue here, Banerjee also alleged that the BJP was trying to brand the protests against CAA as a fight between Hindus and Muslims in the country.
Banerjee also claimed that she has received inputs that the BJP is allegedly buying skull caps for its cadres who are wearing them while vandalising properties to malign a particular community.
Thousands of people on Thursday protested against the Citizenship Act at Mumbai's August Kranti Maidan, the place where in 1942 Mahatma Gandhi told the then British rulers to quit India.
The gathering included workers of political parties, students and also a smattering of Bollywood personalities, who made out a strong case against the Act and the NRC.
Noted freedom fighter G G Parikh, 94, who participated in the Quit India movement in 1942, was present at the Maidan. Also in attendance were politicians Raj Babbar, Hussain Dalwai and Milind Deora.
College students, IT professionals and members of various communities also participated in the protest.
Protesters came out in large number across Uttar Pradesh, protesting against the discriminatory CAA. In some areas, police claimed that stones were pelted and vehicle torched allegedly by the protesters, which led to teargas shells being fired in Lucknow, the state capital, and some other parts.
Scattered incidents of violence were reported from Lucknow's old city and parts of Sambhal and Mau districts.
Internet services remained suspended for at least part of the day at various places, including Aligarh, Sambhal, Mau and Azamgarh districts.
Section 144 of the CrPc, which bans the assembly of people, had already been in force in the entire state for several days now.
Samajwadi Party and Congress MLAs held protests in the state assembly complex against CAA.
In Aligarh, teachers from the Aligarh Muslim University, the scene of violence and brutal police attack on Sunday, also took out a protest march.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) organised protest marches across Kerala following the call of Left parties.
In Kerala, which has continuously been witnessing peaceful protests against CAA, the LDF organised protest gatherings at all district centres on Thursday evening which saw massive participation by student, women, workers and other organisations.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Democratic Youth Federation of India members marched towards the Raj Bhavan to protest against the detentions of peaceful protesters across the country.
Amidst country-wide protests against CAA, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to the Home Minister Amit Shah detailing his concerns over the attack on student community in Jamia and AMU, including ones from Kerala.
Youth League, the youth wing of Indian Union Muslim League has also urged its members to organise against the illegal detention of protesters in various parts of the country.
(inputs From PTI)