Several protesters at an anti-CAA demonstration at Chennai’s Washermanpet area were injured when police resorted to lathicharge late on Friday evening. At least three policemen also sustained injuries during the scuffle. As many as 150 people have been taken into custody and police said they will be released later in the night.
More than 1,000 women have now started a sit-in protest at the area. Read in Malayalam
The protesters from various outfits said they were protesting peacefully in their locality when police intervened and resorted to lathicharge. “Many were injured, some were brutally beaten up,” said an eyewitness.
Ever since anti-CAA protests started in India, both police and protestors of Tamil Nadu ensured that there was no violence, there were no arrests, lathicharge or sedition charges. What went wrong today was police using force to prevent a Shaheen Bagh model protest @ Washermanpet pic.twitter.com/smWzhwS7nd
— Arun Janardhanan (@arunjei) February 14, 2020
A senior police officer said the police force had stayed away from protest sites so far. “But this was an attempt to create a Shaheen Bagh model protest. We didn’t intervene until they declared that they will continue the protest. We tried to speak to them but it did not help. When arguments broke out, a few stones were thrown at officers. Then we had to forcefully evict them. There was no lathicharge, barring isolated cases when officers and protesters engaged in a scuffle. We will continue to handle all protests peacefully,” the officer said.
DMK President M K Stalin Saturday condemned the police action on CAA protesters.
#CAA_NRC_NPR க்கு எதிராக அமைதி வழியில் போராடிய மக்கள் மீது வன்முறையை ஏவி, பிப் – 14 இரவை கறுப்பு இரவாக்கிய EPS அரசின் காவல்துறைக்கு கடும் கண்டனத்தைத் தெரிவிக்கிறேன்.
ஜனநாயகத்தைத் தானும் காப்பாற்றாமல், ஜனநாயக வழியில் போராடும் மக்களையும் ஆவேசமாக அடித்து விரட்டும் அராஜக ஆட்சி இது! pic.twitter.com/6uTCfpAv7m
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) February 15, 2020
Meanwhile, a 70-year-old man died after he was trapped during the stampede-like situation created after police used force.
While both protesters and police sources said the death had no link with the police action, the death triggered rumours, leading to protests at several other places in the city and at Madurai, Tirupur and Coimbatore.
“As people started running fearing a lathicharge, there was almost a stampede. A 70-year old man from Sajja Munusamy street got trapped in the crowd, collapsed and died. We have come to know that he was in the hospital and had returned home only a day before,” said one of the leaders of the protest.