Anti-CAA Protests In Chennai Take Violent Turn, Police Condemned For Brutality
What started as a peaceful protest on February 14 Friday afternoon, suddenly took a violent turn in the night as public and police clashed at Old Washermanpet area in Chennai.
People of Chennai have been regularly conducting peaceful protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) in various parts of the city and sporadic arrests have also occurred over the last few weeks. But what happened last night was unprecedented as police meted out lathi charge on protestors injuring many and leaving one man dead in the commotion that followed.
"What were we doing? We were just protesting peacefully!" said a teacher and regular activist, Farzana, who had gone to the protest with her 7-year-old daughter. "Around 500 women were present and we were just shouting slogans against the laws. We have been protesting here every Friday for the last few weeks," she added.
"But, yesterday the police became violent with us. They also hit me on my leg with a stick and pushed my daughter to the ground," she said.
Videos of the women narrating their woes about the police brutality meted out on them have been circulating over social media. Male policemen beat them up with lathis. Their fingers were put in the van door space and the doors were forcibly shut on their hands.
A 70-year-old man named Faizul Haq from Lala Gunta is alleged to have died in the commotion. The Chennai Traffic Police, however, uploaded a disclaimer on their Facebook page today saying that this was a piece of fake news. Khaja Moinuddin who was present at the incident said the police kept jammers to make sure the news of his death is not get leaked out by the public.
However, videos and pictures of the protestors being dragged into the van and police beating them up were soon viral on social media and in no time more protestors gathered at various spots in the city to raise their voices against the incident.
Mannady and Anna Salai saw a huge turnout of public chanting slogans against the government and the police. Many other areas also saw protestors staging a road roko. The protests continued till the early hours of Saturday.
AS Fathima Muzaffer of the Federation of Tamil Nadu Muslim Women condemned the attack. "Tamil Nadu, known to start all its official programmes with The Tamil Thaai Vazhthu (Tamil Mother's Praise) is, unfortunately, going to be known for using police brutality on its Tamil Thaais (Tamil Mothers)."
Chandra Mohan, an activist said, "The protest against CAA is NOT a Muslim protest, anyone referring to it as a Muslim protest, wants to alienate others from the protest by coating religious paint on it, or does not understand what this protest is about". He also felt that the area police's action on the public yesterday was class biased as this sort of behavior is not seen by the policemen of south Chennai.
They have demanded the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to take stringent action against those police personnel involved and requested him to pass a resolution in the Assembly assuring the people of Tamilnadu that CAA-NPR-NRC will not be implemented in Tamil Nadu.
Over 10,000 people including women and children have gathered today again at yesterday's protest site. Shops remain closed for the day in the area.
By Senior Journalist, Tasneem Akbari Kutubuddin