The anti-CAA protest at Ghantaghar, Sunday. (Express Photo by Vishal Srivastav)
The number of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters on Sunday swelled after a call was given by the Ghantaghar Coordination Committee to women from across India to take part in the sit-in
The protest against CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC)and National Population Register (NPR) was started on January 17.
There is heavy police deployment around the protest site with personnel belonging to the Riot Action Force on stand by.
Speakers from Delhi-based gender rights group Pinjra Tod also took part in the protest and spoke against the citizenship law. Natasha Narwal, a member of Pinjra Tod, and four other activists had travelled from Delhi on a bus.
“We got to know about the call through social media and made arrangements to come to Lucknow. We are here in solidarity with the women who have been sitting in the cold without tents for three weeks. The way police and administration have treated these women is shameful and we are here to support their cause and to encourage them,” said Narwal, a student of Jawaharlal University in New Delhi.
Amid all this, police patrolled the site every one hour.
Additional DCP Vikas Chandra Tripathi said police are trying to identify those “who made an extra effort to mobilise people”.
“Today is a Sunday, so there is more crowd as some onlookers gather at the site. We are looking at people who gave the call to women to join the protest today. We will take action against them,” said Tripathi.
Police had on Saturday arrested local outfit Bahujan Muslim Mahasabha vice-president Sheikh Tahir Siddiqui for “instigating people” at Ghanta Ghar, the DCP said.
Several Buddhist monks had on Thursday taken part in the protest and slammed the government over the new citizenship law. “This law has been brought in to distract the people from the real issues,” said Soma, one of the monks.
Addressing protesters, Delhi-based Hasina Ahmad, who is part of the All Assam Minority Students’ Union, reminded people how the NRC in Assam was a “disaster”.
Ahmad, a student of Sharda University in Noida, cautioned that people on the margins will suffer heavily if NRC is implemented.
Around 4 pm on Sunday, the protest site was packed with people, with women at the centre and men remaining at the margins. Children formed small groups and were singing patriotic song and raising slogans against the CAA, NRC and NPR. “We are here with our mother and father,” said a 12-year-old boy, who was wearing a national flag badge.
A group of women, who identified themselves as “Hindu”, said, “We are here from different places. This is not about Hindus or Muslims. This fight is for the women,” said Nisha Singh, a resident Indra Nagar area here.
Meanwhile, notices were served to at least 10 people on Saturday night under CrPC section 149 (police to prevent cognizable offences) to prevent them from participating in the protest call at Ghanta Ghar. Among those who received the notice were Rihai Manch president Mohammad Shoaib, retired IPS officer Dara Puri, former Lucknow University vice-chancellor Roop Rekha Verma, Shia cleric Kalbe Sadique's son Kalbe Sibtain Noori, Magsasay Award winner and activist Sandeep Pandey and Saif Abbas
“The notices were served to ask them not to take part in the protest as it can lead to a law and order situation in the city,” said ADCP Vikas Chandra Tripathi.
Meanwhile, two sit-ins were called off in Kanpur on Saturday, while while five to seven people are still sitting at one site - Mohammad Ali Park in Chamanganj area, said district officials.
Officials said the protests were called off after police and administration spoke to the protesting women and assured them that their memorandums will be sent to President Ram Nath Kovind.