Bandh, clashes mar anti-citizenship law protests in Maharashtra

Mumbai Police denies permission to queer march fearing it may turn into an anti-CAA protest

Bandh in Mumbai
A man, holding a national flag, sits amid closed shops during a Bharat bandh call against NRC and CAA, near Mumbai | PTI Photo

Mumbai witnessed a complete shutdown in its Muslim-dominated areas on Wednesday (January 29) as shops and offices participated in the ‘Bharat Bandh’ in protest against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed countrywide National Register of Citizens (NRC).

According to police, shops and offices remained closed in Muslim areas in Dongri, Byculla, Nagpada, Mahim, Bandra-Behrampada, Kurla Pipe Road, Kasaiwada, Andheri, Jogeshwari, Malad-Malwani and Vikhroli, the police said. The call for shut-down received good response in Mumbra in neighbouring Thane district and Taloja, Vashi and Panvel in Navi Mumbai.

A clash erupted between two groups during the ‘Bharat Bandh’ in north Maharashtra’s Dhule district, while sporadic incidents of violence were also reported in Yavatmal, Aurangabad, and other places. The police fired four rounds in the air and lobbed six tear gas shells to disperse a violent mob in Dhule, an official said.

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The incident took place on Hundred Feet Road in the limits of the Chalisgaon Road police station on Wednesday afternoon during a rally against the CAA and NRC. The clash erupted when a group started shouting slogans in support of CAA and NRC at the rally, a police officer said. Both the side resorted to stone-pelting, he added.

Bandh in Mumbai
Closed shops at a market during a Bharat bandh call against NRC and CAA, in Mumbai | PTI Photo

Also read | Two killed in clash during anti-CAA protest in Bengal’s Murshidabad

To disperse the mob, police fired four rounds in the air and lobbed six teargas shells, he said. The situation was under control and police personnel have been deployed in large numbers in the area, he added. Besides Dhule, there were incidents of blockade on railway tracks at Balapur in Akola district and stone-pelting in Washim and Yawatmal districts, police said.

At Yavatmal, police used baton-charge to disperse the mob after two groups clashed. In Aurangabad, a civic-run bus was pelted with stones at Harsul while a state transport bus was attacked near Himayatbag. In Palghar, 10 persons were detained for trying to enforce the shut-down. Protesters also tried to block the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway near Vasai.

In Thane district, impact of the shut-down call was felt mainly in Bhiwandi, Mumbra and Ulhasnagar. At Ulhasnagar, police detained some persons for trying to take out a protest march in defiance of prohibitory orders. The suburban train traffic in Thane district was not affected, the police said.

Queer march denied permission

Mumbai Police denied permission to a march organised by the LGBTQ community from August Kranti Maidan, fearing that it may turn into an anti-CAA protest, an official said. The decision led to the organisers shifting the venue to Azad Maidan in south Mumbai, he added.

City-based Humsafar Trust had sought permission for holding the ‘Queer Azadi March’, an annual event, on February 1, the police official said. It was to start from the historic August Kranti Maidan and conclude at the same place after passing through Nana Chowk, Kenedy Bridge, Opera House and Maharshi Karve Marg.

Officers of the Agripada police station denied permission to the march on the ground that slogans against the Union government, CAA and NRC might be shouted during the event, the official said. Though the Queer Azadi March is about the rights of the LGBT community, the police feared that it may be hijacked by anti-CAA-NRC protesters, he said.

(With inputs from agencies)

Also read | BJP MLA trashes citizenship law for creating ‘civil war-like situation’

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