Mumbai: Close to 1,200 youths from across Maharashtra were detained by the Maharashtra Police on Monday and prevented from entering Mumbai. The youth were marching from Uran in Raigad to Mumbai demanding jobs, under the banner of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and other like-minded youth organisations, with the aim of “bringing back social discourse from communal issues to real issues.”
"Young people are aiming to create mass awareness over real issues. The unemployment rate in India is at a 45-year high. In such a situation, youths have no option than to protest. If police does not allow us to protest, how will the situation change?" said Balaji Kathelwad, SFI president of Maharashtra.
Among other demands, the youth march was also against the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The support of youth for ongoing anti-CAA agitation and protests have been huge in Maharashtra as well as across the country.
This is the first time such a long march toward Mumbai has been planned on the issue, the youth leaders said. However, citing law and order situation, the police refused to allow them to enter Mumbai.
"The High Court order is clear. People have right to protest peacefully. Now, the state government must ask its police to obey the court order. Ours is a peaceful march, yet they are detaining us," said Preeti Shekhar of DYFI.
Meanwhile, political leaders as well as activists have slammed state government for not allowing the march to enter Mumbai.
"This is wrong on the part of state government. Why are they clamping down on the right to protest? BJP state governments are doing the same. Is Maharashtra's new government competing with them?" asked Ajit Nawale, leader of All India Kisan Sabha.
Farmer leader and former MP, Raju Shetti, demanded immediate release of the detained youths. "Let them go to Mumbai and hold a protest at Chaityabhumi. Let the people of Mumbai know about the pain of unemployed youths from all over Maharashtra,” he said.