Activists are detained by Mumbai Police on Friday. (Express Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)
AT LEAST 10 protesters, including former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan, who had resigned in August stating that he was “losing his voice” working under the current government, were detained at Marine Drive police station on Friday evening, as they started to gather for a protest against the new citizenship law. They were released after a being held at the police station for a couple of hours.
“We were just reading the Constitution of India, when the police detained us. In a democracy, we have the right to peacefully assemble without arms and express dissent. It is our fundamental right to protest and we were exercising our right today,” said Gopinathan as he came out of the police station.
Among the others who were detained were activists and students of Mumbai University and Tata Institute of Social Sciences. They included Feroze Mithiborwala (Bharat Bachao Angolan), Fahad Ahmed (TISS), Amol Madame (Akhil Bharatiya Parivar), Com. Nasirul Haq (All India Tanzeem I Insaaf), M A Khalid (All India Milli Council), Faisal Khan (activist), Kalhan Raina (activist) and Amlan Mishra (law student).
The group had just about begun assembling outside a hotel off the Marine Drive near Churchgate around 7 pm when they were rounded up by the police.
While officers at Marine Drive police station said the group had not taken prior permission to assemble, the protesters claimed that it was their fundamental right to hold a peaceful protest. They added that they would participate in a planned all-India protest on December 19 against the new law and NRC.
After the protesters were detained, at least 50 people assembled outside the police station in a show of support, holding anti-CAB and anti-NRC placards. Gopinathan and others were greeted with cheers and applause when they were released after two hours.
After being released, the group marched to the Churchgate station, pledging to protest again.
The protesters included many students from the Northeast. “I am from Assam, my state is under siege. Protesting is no more a choice. There is a clampdown on news channels, Internet is down, it is nothing but humiliation and violation of the rights of indigenous people. The mainland does not realise and is aloof from what has happened and happening in Northeast,” said Upasana Goswami, a student of TISS.
Others said the protests would continue. “We will protest again tomorrow at Azad maidan. Assamese population from Mumbai will be protesting tomorrow. Assam has been hosting many immigrants for years and now we are being threatened with even more,” said a student from TISS who did not wish to be identified.