Mangaluru Schools & Colleges Shut Tomorrow Amid Anti-CAA Protests; Police Fire in Air, Tear Gas Used
Police personnel baton charge at protesters during a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). (PTI)
Bengaluru: Police lobbed tear gas shells, resorted to baton charge and fired in the air to disperse anti-CAA protesters in Mangaluru, as thousands of demonstrators hit the streets in many cities and towns across Karnataka on Thursday defying prohibitory orders.
Schools and colleges in the city were closed in view of the protests. Liquor shops, restaurants and bars have also been shut.
Scores of people including historian Ramachandra Guha were among demonstrators who were detained and later released. Vehicles were set on fire and stones hurled at police personnel as protesters allegedly went on the rampage in Mangaluru.
Police retaliated by firing in the air to warn them after tear gas shells and a baton-charge proved futile. Religious preachers too made a fervent appeal to people through loudspeakers of a place of worship not to resort to violence.
The Mangaluru police commissioner has imposed curfew with immediate effect till the midnight of Friday in Central sub-division of the city covering five police stations, a top district official told PTI.
Prohibitory orders clamped in Bengaluru under section 144 of the CrPC that bans assembly of more than four people had no effect as people in large numbers came out onto the streets opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Sensing deterioration of the law and order situation, district authorities in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Kalaburagi, Mangaluru, Belagavi, Hubballi, Shivamogga, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru and Chikkaballapura imposed section 144 for the next three days starting from Thursday.
Police had made elaborate arrangements to enforce the ban order but to no avail as demonstrators started thronging important locations of various cities to take part in the protests. In Bengaluru, demonstrations took place at the Town Hall where, among others, historian Ramachandra Guha participated.
While he was protesting with a placard, which read "CAA is against the constitution", policemen held him by his hand and took him away from the venue in a government bus kept reserved only to take away the protesters. He was later released.
Soon after his arrest, people in hundreds swarmed the Town Hall. Buses parked near the venue by police to take away the protesters proved insufficient. Police personnel were seen persuading the protesters to withdraw their protests but it did not have any effect as more and more people started crowding the venue, resulting in a traffic jam.
Long traffic snarls were witnessed in many parts of the Central Business District as a cascading effect of the protests at the Town Hall. Holding placards and waving the tricolour, protesters raised slogans such as 'Hum Le Ke Rahenge Azadi' and 'Withdraw CAA and NRC' and 'CAA is against constitution.'
Similar demonstrations took place at Hubballi, Kalaburagi, Hassan and Shivamogga too. Following the protests, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa asserted that protecting the interests of Muslims was the State government's responsibility.
His statement came a day after he declared that his government will '100 per cent' implement the CAA. "I appeal to the minority Muslim brothers, this law will in no way affect you, protecting your interest is our responsibility. Kindly cooperate, maintain peace and order," Yediyurappa said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said, "we have not given permission for any agitation in favour or against the law, and section 144 (prohibitory orders) were in place." Alleging that the Congress was behind the protest, Yediyurappa said "it is because of people like U T Khader (Congress MLA) such things are happening, and if they continue in the same way, they will have to face the consequences.
Khader recently claimed that the state would "blow up in cinders" if the Yediyurappa government tried to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act. Yediyurappa even expressed surprise over Guha's detention and said he has instructed police to exercise restraint against the agitators.
As the situation in various parts of the state turned grim, former chief minister Siddaramaiah hit out at Yediyurappa for clamping down on the protests. He reminded how the protests intensified during British India due to the suppression. "Be it Mahatma Gandhi or Bhagat Singh, Nehru or Sardar Patel, all the freedom fighters, along with many people, protested to fight for Independence, inspite of British regressive police actions.
More the policing, Stronger the Protest!! History is a great Teacher!! the former chief minister tweeted. The Congress veteran even cautioned Yediyurappa to stand guard against the fascist forces using him as a pawn.
"Mr Yediyurappa, you are being used as a pawn to fulfill the agenda of RSS. You are falling to their trap. They're coming for you!! Be aware, Be watchful!! Strengthen the forces that fight against fascism!! he said in another tweet.
Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao too slammed the BJP. "Yesterday: Sec 144; Today: arrest of law abiding citizens; Tomorrow: suspend internet services; Day after: house arrest activists & political leaders.
Life in a Fascist regime under Modi-Shah," he tweeted. Congress sources said the party's Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Gowda and MLA Sowmya Reddy have filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court against imposing section 144 in Karnataka, especially in Bengaluru.
Biocon chairman and managing director Kiran Mazumdar Shaw too expressed shock over Guha's arrest. "This is shocking n (sic) reflects the total lack of understanding of fundamental freedom to express dissent — a peaceful protest shd not be mishandled in this manner," she tweeted.