Prohibitory orders in Lucknow as anti-CAA protests continue

Police first deny, then admit to have seized blankets after 'due process'; videos of police action go viral

Prohibitory orders in Lucknow as anti-CAA protests continue

Muslim women with children stage a protest against CAA and NRC, near Ghataghar in old Lucknow on January 18, 2020. PTI file photo

Lucknow, January 19

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed in Lucknow in view of Republic Day and the Defence Expo and most importantly, the ongoing protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The move to impose the prohibitory orders was taken by Police Commissioner Sujeet Pandey late Saturday night, who said that it had been done to maintain law and order in the coming weeks.

The ongoing protest against the citizenship laws at the Clock Tower in Lucknow, on the lines of New Delhi's Shaheen Bagh protest, has gathered momentum and despite efforts by the police, the women have refused to budge from the site.

The women, most of them elderly, have claimed that the policemen snatched their blankets and poured water on the bonfire that they lit to keep themselves warm. Videos from last night been doing the rounds on social media show policemen loading blankets and some other things into waiting police cars as protesters object.

In visuals captured on mobile phones, policemen can be seen taking away blankets and boxes of what appeared to be food packets from the protest site on Saturday night amidst the chaos.

Lucknow's Police Commissioner Sujeet Pandey also dismissed the allegations levelled by the protestors.

The cops, some of them wearing helmets, were also seen taking away Styrofoam sheets meant to be spread on the ground for those who were to spend the night there.

A video shot on Saturday night, also showed a woman protester running after some cops as she yells at them and asks, "Why are you taking the blankets?" A Sikh man who went there with food for the women and children said, "Some of the cops tried to stop us but others let us pass. This is basic humanity and so we are here." About 50 women began the sit-in demonstration on Friday but the crowds swelled on Saturday and the protest became 'indefinite'. 

Rubia, 72, sitting with a blanket wrapped around her, said: "We are not causing any disturbance to either the Republic Day parade or the Defence Expo. We will not budge an inch from here till CAA and NRC is withdrawn. My parents and grandparents were born in India and they did not leave any papers for us to show to the government. We have assembled with our children and it is our fight for our rights". Ishat Jahan, 75, said she was protesting to support her nephew and many others who had been arrested on December 19, 2019 after an anti-CAA protest here turned violent.

The number of protesters at Clock Tower has been steadily swelling since it began three days ago.

The cops have been trying to dissuade protestors but to no avail.

"The cops puncture our vehicles, issue challans and shoo away vendors in order to break the protest but we are prepared to face all kinds of atrocities," said Shahab, a student whose mother and three sisters are on protest.

The protest, which essentially began with Muslim women and children, now has a sizeable presence of Hindu and Sikh women.

Holding posters of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr B.R. Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh, the women raise slogans of "Inquilab Zindabad' and sing Ram Prasad Bismil's "Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna".

Young boys have been entrusted the task of bringing them food, tea, quilts and warm clothes.

"The police have tried all tricks to break our resolve. They have snapped electricity and public toilets were locked. They are stopping men and even young boys from joining the protest but nothing has worked," said Zaheer Khan, whose mother and aunt are among the protesters.

‘Due process'

Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (West Zone) Vikas Tripathi denied the allegations. As criticism mounted, however, police admitted that “blankets were seized after due process”. 

"We did not take away any belongings from the protesters. We only stopped those who were setting up tents at the spot because it is not a designated dharna venue. Hence, such arrangements cannot be allowed," IANS quoted Tripathi as saying. 

As videos continued to circulate, Lucknow Police said in a statement that they had indeed "seized" some blankets after due process.

"At the clock tower in Lucknow, during an illegal protest, some people tried to pitch a tent and they were denied permission. Some groups were distributing blankets in the park and many people, who were not even a part of the protest, came to take the blankets. We had to disperse the crowd from there. The blankets were seized after due process. Please do not spread rumours," Lucknow Police said in tweet.

The indefinite protest by women at the national capital's Shaheen Bagh against the CAA and NRC has been going on for over a month now.

Besides Delhi, protests have unfolded in several parts of the country over the law since it was passed on December 11 and have led to clashes at several places including Uttar Pradesh.

According to the amended law, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship. Agencies


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