The sit-in protest against the citizenship law entered the fourth day in Chennai’s Old Washermanpet’s Lala Gunda area after city police resorted to lathicharge at an anti-CAA demonstration last week.
More than 2,000 people, most of them women, are refusing to disperse unless the Tamil Nadu government passes a resolution in the assembly against CAA, NRC and NPR, and initiate action against the police officials involved in Friday’s lathicharge.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Farzana Begam (39), a teacher at a government school in Washermanpet, said their protest will continue till the government pay heed to their demands. “It has been four days, but the government has not accepted our demands. The number of protesters are increasing day by day, the government cannot suppress us with their force. We thought police as our protectors, but after they thrashed hundreds of women and men for participating in the protest on Friday, we lost our faith in them. The government thinks the protest will end if they don’t pay much attention, we are letting them know that we are not going down that easy. This is an indefinite protest, we will keep fighting till the end to get CAA withdrawn,” she said.
The protest intensified a day after several demonstrators were injured in Friday’s lathicharge. During the scuffle, four police personnel including joint commissioner P Vijayakumari, two women constables and a sub-inspector were injured.
On Saturday, close to 3,000 people including women and children occupied Saja Munusamy and Aziz Mohamed streets in Lala Gunda area began a sit-in protest against the police action. The protests soon spread to other parts of Chennai and Tamil Nadu; people from various outfits sat in a dharna to show their solidarity.
Opposition raises issue in Assembly
DMK leader MK Stalin Monday raised the issue in the assembly. He said the government should take action against the concerned police personnel and withdraw the cases against the protesters.
Speaking in the assembly during zero hour, the Tamil Nadu opposition leader said a resolution should be passed in the assembly against CAA respecting the feelings of the people of the state.
Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal said the state assembly does not have the provision to pass a resolution against CAA. He said that DMK leader has been given a written explanation over this earlier.
Unsatisfied with the answer, DMK, Congress and other opposition parties staged a walkout.
Speaking to the reporters, Stalin said the Speaker did not allow them to speak on the resolution against CAA. “We demanded the government to pass a resolution against the CAA in assembly. Speaker Dhanapal has set a wrong example by denying us time to speak on the resolution against CAA. He said the petition had been rejected in the previous assembly session itself and it cannot be brought up in today’s session, this is not specified anywhere in the legislative rules,” he said.
The DMK leader further added that the government did not provide the details of various meetings it held with Muslim leaders after the protests intensified all over the state. He said the Edappadi-led government is spreading a false campaign that the protestors damaged the public property and hence police restored to lathicharge. “Three days earlier, people were attacked brutally by the police in Washermanpet for protesting against the CAA. Several people were left injured, the government held a meeting with police officers who carried out the lathicharge, and they discussed the issue with senior Muslim leaders. What’s the outcome of these meetings? The government has not provided any explanation about these meetings in the assembly,” he added.
Palanisamy defends police action
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy defended the police action in Washermanpet. He said the police arrested the people for staging a protest without permission. He added that the government has received information that few toxic elements are instigating the protest.
He said “The protest in Washermanpet took place without permission. Hundreds of women and men took to the streets and blocked the roads causing disruption to public peace. When the police personnel tried to disperse them, they damaged the public property. Slippers, stones, and water bottles were hurled at the police. 82 people are arrested until now in connection with the protests. Few toxic elements are trying to instigate the protesters. An old- man died in Washermanpet due to his Ill-health, but toxic elements are spreading false news that the person died due to police brutality.”
Edappadi said the ‘Amma’ government will never act against the interest of minorities. He appealed to the Muslim communities to ignore rumors and co-operate for communal harmony.
“The protest is still continuing in Washermanpet, to avoid any untoward incidents, the police force has been deployed. I wish to say that the AIADMK government will function as a protecting shield for the minority communities, we will not allow any action that would affect the Muslim brothers and sisters,” Edappadi added.
Brushing aside the Chief Minister’s claim, several women protesters alleged that the police personnel attacked them when they were carrying out a peaceful protest. “We have enough evidence to prove that the police personnel was only responsible for the violence that took place on Friday. They were not even wearing their name badges, they wanted to harm us. They grabbed us by the neck and head, it was not even women police officers, they were all men. Who gave them the right to touch us? To protect us our brothers got involved in the act and they were taken away by the cops,” claimed a women protester.
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