Anti-CAA Protests: Gujarat Resists Despite Sec 144, Notice to Suspend Telecom Services
Multiple protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 and the National Register of Citizens were organised across Gujarat on December 19 despite imposition of section 144 at many places of the state. Massive crowds gathered at Chapi Vadgam highway in Banaskantha district in North Gujarat, Kutch, and at multiple places in Ahmedabad. Vadodara and some other cities remained partially shut as they observed a bandh to mark their protest.
Meanwhile, the state Home Department on December 20 issued a notice directing the Additional Director General of Police to temporarily suspend telecom services in the state for three days until December 22, in case of “any exigency”.
On Thursday, the protest at Shah-e-Alam area of Ahmedabad turned violent where protestors pelted stones at police personnel injuring 19 police personnel including Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Bipin Ahire, Assistant Commissioner of Police of J Division (ACP) Rajpalsinh Rana, Police Inspector of Danilimda VR Vasava, Police Inspector of Isanpur Police station, two Police sub Inspectors and 14 constables. One of the constables who had tripped while escaping from stone pelting and running towards the police van, was thrashed on spot, pulled inside a corner and thrashed again by the protesters. Police had to lob tear gas to disperse the mob. Two local journalists – Shahban Hadakiya and Brijesh Dave were also injured. Police resorted to lathi charge at another protest at Sardarbaug area of Ahmedabad injuring at least two protestors and detaining at least 100. A 22-year-old commuter was injured while he was trying to board a bus in the city.
Two buses of Ahmedabad Transport Service (AMTS) were damaged and services of Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) remained suspended for a few hours in areas affected by violence in Ahmedabad. Section 11 was imposed in the city and police personnel along with State Reserve Police conducted a flag march and area domination exercise in “disturbed areas” of Ahmedabad.
Forty nine people, including Congress Corporator Shahzad Pathan who had also called for protest, have been arrested by Ahmedabad police. Over hundred protestors were detained from the protest organised by civil society of Ahmedabad in Nehrunagar area of the city. There was heavy police deployment including SRP, personnel from Crime Branch equipped with anti-rioting vehicles and tear gas at the spot.
However, students, artists, civil rights activists, advocates arrived at the venue of the protest defying section 144 imposed in the city and a notification issued by Ahmedabad police warning people against ‘gathering’ and asking people to report any ‘gathering’.
Four members of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, a dalit rights organisation found by Jignesh Mevani, were detained from their respective homes for giving call for protest in Banaskantha. Advocate Shamshad Pathan, one of the organizers who had called for protest at Nehrunagar has been put under house arrest in Ahmedabad since the morning of December 19.
“Police visited my home for the past two days and checked everywhere even my bathroom. To avoid house arrest before the protest I checked in a hotel but police found me there and stood guard lest I come out and join the protest,” Pathan told NewsClick.
Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani had also arrived at Nehrunagar, Ahmedabad to register his protest but he was whisked away by police as soon as he stepped down from his car. He was not allowed to even finish his statement to media.
“Those who are here today have not come to seek votes but to protest in a democratic manner. The lathi charge by police on protesters (at Sardarbaug) and (the fact) that historian Ramchandra Guha was detained in Bangalore is condemnable,” Jignesh Mevani said as he was pulled inside the police vehicle.
Among the detained from Nehrunagar area were human rights activist Father Cedrric Prakash; Swati Joshi, daughter of Gujarati poet Umashankat Joshi; theatre artist Rajoo Barot; civil activists Neeta Vidrohi, Mudita Vidrohi, Bhavna Ramrakhiyani, Amrish Patel and Nirjhari Sinha.
Noticeably, permission to protests at two locations that were called in favour of CAA were revoked. About 20 residents of Adani Shantigram township in outskirts of Ahmedabad had sought permission for protesting in front of IIM Ahmedabad that was revoked as section 144 was imposed in the city.
A pro-CAA gathering was organised by the students of MS University in Vadodara which had to be called off at the last moment due to no police permission.
However, on December 18, a rally was organised in Thangad town of Surendranagar district in support of CAA and NRC, led by BJP MP Mahendra Munjpara.
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