Police detained 1,200 activists of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) in Navi Mumbai on Monday while they were marching towards the city. The students’ body had organised a long march from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Uran to Chaityabhoomi in Dadar to protest against unemployment, privatisation of public sector enterprises and the central government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
More than 2,500 youngsters from across Maharashtra had gathered at JNPT on Sunday and had planned to reach Dadar by foot on Wednesday. However, as they reached Kalamboli on Monday, police stopped the march and told the protesters that they could not proceed further.
The DYFI and All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS), which had extended support to the long march, expressed their outrage at the police action. The AIKS accused the police of “stifling the democratic right to dissent” and said it was an unfortunate action taken by a state government that was formed in opposition to the BJP.
Dr Ashok Dhawale of AIKS said protesters were also detained briefly on Sunday but later released. “The DYFI has organised this long march to protest the policies of the BJP government; against unemployment, a right to education and the communal intentions of the government in introducing CAA, NRC and NPR,” he said.
The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) said the state government should have held discussions with the peacefully protesting students over how to resolve the current situation of rising unemployment instead of instructing police to detain them.
Mairam Dhawale of AIDWA added that the association would not tolerate the “authoritarian manner” in which the state government had cracked down on the protest and detained youngsters.
By late afternoon however, police released the detained protesters. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone II) Ashok Dudhe said police had asked the protesters to not proceed to Mumbai on foot.
“If so many people walk towards Mumbai, it will disrupt traffic. We have no objection to the protesters passing through Navi Mumbai but have requested them to use vehicles instead,” he said.
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