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Friday, February 21, 2020

Now indefinite sit-in in Lucknow: ‘Had no choice’

In Old Lucknow, echoes of Shaheen Bagh, Prayagraj: 'So cold and foggy... still we are here'

Written by Avaneesh Mishra | Lucknow | Published: January 19, 2020 4:21:33 am
At Ghanta Ghar in Lucknow on Saturday. Express

TAKING A cue from the anti-citizenship law protest at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh and the sit-in in Prayagraj, hundreds of women and children from the old city areas of Lucknow have launched a dharna against the new citizenship law and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), at Ghantaghar situated near Rumi Gate since Friday.

The women have been sitting with posters against the CAA and raising slogans demanding ‘Azadi’. Heavy police force is deployed near the area where the protest is on.

Talking to The Indian Express, those protesting against the Act claimed that they all belong to Lucknow and said women had to come out to protest against the new “discriminatory” law as they had seen “how brutal the police and administration can be on men raising their voices.”

“We started the protest here around 2 pm Friday and our protest is for an indefinite time. Those sitting here are working women or housewives and students and we had no choice but to come out to protest because we all saw what the police did on December 19 to the men protesting against the CAA-NRC. When there are women at least have hope that police will not attack us the way they did to men,” said Fauzia Rana, daughter of well-known Urdu poet Munawwar Rana.

“It was so cold and foggy last night and still we were sitting here. This continues even after police tried to make us leave this place. On Friday late night, we had started a bonfire to counter the cold but some policemen came and poured water on it,” alleged another woman protester. Among the protesters is 28-year-old Marziya, who is sitting at the protest with her three-month-old daughter and belongs to Chaupatiya locality.

While Fauzia claimed that the protest has neither been called nor backed by any political organisation, posters of Bhim Army founder Chandrasekhar were seen being displayed by some women sitting there on Saturday evening.

Meanwhile on Saturday, police personnel were seen stopping men from joining the protest or going near the ground where the agitation is on. Even mediapersons were allowed to the ground only after showing their identity proof.
Lucknow Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Naveen Arora said men are not allowed at the spot as this was requested by the women protesters. They have told the police that they can guarantee a peaceful protest only if that is limited to women only, Arora added.

“We have deployed policemen from local police stations to maintain law and order. Our priority is to make sure that the protest does not affect the local residents in any way and there is smooth traffic flow on the road passing near the Ghantaghar. We also have to make sure that the gathering does not turn violent. Other than local police, there is PAC personnel too though they have been patrolling and are not at one place,” said Arora.

Later Saturday evening, several women protesters alleged that police personnel came in the evening and snatched their blankets and eatables. They also cut the electricity at the Ghantaghar and have locked the public toilet nearby, alleged some of the protesters.

The police, however, denied all the allegations. Assistant Commissioner of Police Durga Prasad Tiwari said, “All the allegations are wrong. Such things are being claimed in order to give a different spin to the events.”

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