The Navi Mumbai police arrested and later released hundreds of activists belonging to the Leftist youth organisation Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) in order to prevent them from reaching Mumbai on foot.
This is the third time that the police have intervened to stop the planned long march, which began at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Uran on Sunday and is scheduled to end at Chaityabhoomi in Dadar, Mumbai, on Wednesday.
The DYFI said 1,400 people have joined the march to protest against unemployment, privatisation of public sector enterprises and Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
The police had briefly stopped the march when it reached Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai on Monday, urging protesters to proceed in vehicles instead so as not to disrupt traffic. The protesters had taken shelter at BTR Memo-rial Library on Monday night.
The DYFI claimed that the police laid siege to the library early Tuesday and took protesters to police stations across Navi Mumbai.
Dyaneshwar Mote, a member of the DYFI’s state co-ordination committee, said the police had arrested over 900 protesters, boo-ked them under the Bombay Police Act for forming an unlawful assembly and protesting without permission. They were allowed to leave Tuesday evening after executing personal bonds of good behaviour, he added.
But DCP (Zone I) Pankaj Dahane said only 300 protesters were detained at the library on Tuesday afternoon. “They do not have permission from the Mumbai Police to enter the city on foot. As a result, we have not allowed them to carry out a march on foot, as traffic movement was being affected. We will allow the protesters to leave after we complete our procedures,” he added.
Subhashini Ali, a CPI(M) Politburo member and former MP, who is participating in the march, said: “The Maharashtra government is running a coalition that has promised to bring a change but it is stopping this march of DYFI, in which many Adivasi women are participating.”
“What is the Maharashtra government afraid of? They are not afraid of Raj Thackeray and his polarising speeches and public rallies. They are not scared of BJP… and they are determined to bring the government down. My question to the Maharashtra government is why are you doing this?” she asked.
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