Bengaluru: On Tuesday, the fists of students from different colleges were seen rising at Freedom Park in Bengaluru to the slogans of ‘azadi’ and ‘CAB down down’ to reject Citizenship (Amendment) Act and to express solidarity with Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Delhi University (DU) in their struggle against police brutality. Police detained at least nine students. Teresa Braggs, a third year media and communication student from a women’s university in Vasanth Nagar and Anahita Ananth, along with seven more students were detained. They had showed up at Town Hall prior to the scheduled time of the protest.
They were all released. The march was organised by students who expressed strong aversion to associating themselves with political parties. Vaishnavi Suresh, who – post detention of protest organisers- stepped in last minute to lead the march explained that the protest was supposed to be originating at Mount Carmel College (MCC) but due to a denied permit it was shifted to Palace Road, where permission was again denied. She said the students then submitted an intimation letter to the District Commissioner of Police (DCP) informing about the march from Town Hall to Freedom Park at 11:4 5am – saying that the protest was not illegal.
Bengaluru students protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Photo: Aishwarya Tripathi ‘The students who showed up in the morning outside Town Hall were selectively detained by the police and the remaining were dispersed,’ said one of the protesting students. He added that police, who outnumbered the protesters, had been verbally abusive to them in the local language which many in the crowd did not understand. The ones who did said police had threatened them with the prospect of putting them in jails.
The placards read – ‘We Stand With JMI Students’, ‘When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty’, ‘Reject CCA’. The sloganeering against the Citizenship Act was initiated in the beginning and quickly halted as police intervened. The silent march still continued with banners held high. Arafad, another organiser, addressed the crowd in the park, ‘We know where our nation is heading, awareness is the first step for change to come.’
He further iterated the slogans against communalism – to which the enthusiastic crowd responded with ‘Azadi’. Suresh said, ‘We are non-violent and peaceful. We want a secular democracy which is in line with our Constitution.’
Bengaluru students protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Photo: Aishwarya Tripathi Siddhant, a participant, expressed his solidarity with JMI students and condemned the authorities for not taking a stand against the police brutality in the capital city. Referring to the ruling regime he said, ‘Their agenda is out there. If one supports this government on the citizenship Act, they are fascist.’ He further explained, ‘BJP is a lot of things but their core belief is in social hierarchies and they want to be on top.’
‘It is a great thing that the government wants to bring in minority refugees to the country but why just three neighbouring countries?’ questioned Aashti Kazmi, another student protestor. She further explained, ‘CAA and NRC are exact fits. It is a very well-planned thing.
This is a crucial time and we need to speak up. It’s pretty clear what the future will look like if this is implemented.’ Another student spoke about Monday’s protest. ‘Everyone was not on the same page.
Also, the police formed a chain holding lathis and pushed us away at Town Hall.’ Many said that the police walking in massive troops is creating an air of fear – ‘What if they do something? When will they be given orders to do so?’ they asked.
After reaching the Freedom Park, the police set up barricades near the exit and the leaders of the protest demanded the students stay close to the exit and not settle in the interior areas of the confined premises – fearing the brutality as has been trending in the campuses around the country. ‘Look at the numbers of cops around us. Two detaining vehicles? For what?’
questioned Kazmi. She expressed distress, ‘This isn’t a border situation. The sensitivity between the police and citizens is lacking, which is a huge problem.’
Bengaluru students protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Photo: Aishwarya Tripathi ‘I am from Delhi and have attended most of the protests there.
I know how it works in JMI, JNU and AMU but this is absurd. They just barged in- my friends were beaten up, detained. They were just implementing their rights and protesting.’ Braggs through her Instagram stories uploaded later in the evening shared the entire detaining incident by Bangalore Police.
She personally confirmed that nine of the detained students had been released at around 3:30 pm. ‘We were detained without any reason. Just picked up by cops (who identified me by name and had a picture for reference) the moment we reached. Our phones were snatched away and we weren’t allowed to inform people,’ she wrote on Instagram.
She further wrote that an inspector from JC Road station had asked them to accompany him within less than five minutes post their arrival at Town Hall. Braggs informed that they were initially forced to sign on blank sheets, which they resisted. The inspector also pushed to sign a bond which would mean the signatory agreeing to disassociate with future protests. The detained students refused to sign this too.
They also stood by maintaining no affiliation with any political parties and refused when were approached by party representatives who said they could make the release process quicker. Post release, the detainees joined the protestors at the Freedom Park. Bengaluru students plan to protest on Thursday at Mysore Bank Circle in even larger numbers. Aishwarya Tripathi has worked as an editorial intern at The Wire.
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