Guha, hundreds detained for anti-CAA protests in Karnataka

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Bengaluru, Dec 19 (IANS) Hundreds of people, including noted historian Ramchandra Guha were detained in Bengaluru and other cities in Karnataka on Thursday for defying the prohibitory orders and staging protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, police said. “About 200 people, including Guha, were taken into preventive custody at Town Hall in Bengaluru for assembling at the venue in the city centre and staging anti-CAA protests, defying the prohibitive order under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC),” a police official told reporters. Though the police dispersed the first round of protesters by whisking the detainees away in buses, 200 more gathered at the spot post-noon after they were not allowed to stage demonstration at Mysore Bank circle and Freedom Park in the city centre, as a 3-day ban order is in force since 6 a.m. across the city and state. “Guha was detained along with others as protest marches and sit-in demonstrations have also been banned, as assembling of more than 4 persons is not allowed under section 144 of the CrPC. They were taken away from the venue as they refused to disperse,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Central, Chetan Singh told IANS. Condemning the ban and protesting against the CAA, Guha told reporters at the venue that the Central government was forcing the police to act against the citizens who were exercising their democratic right to protest peacefully against “draconian laws” like the CAA and the NRC. “We are protesting in a non-violent manner totally. This is a discriminatory act. See how the police are behaving against the citizens,” lamented Guha. Congress legislator from Shivajinagar Rizwan Arshada was also detained at Town Hall when he came to the venue with more than 5 people and raised anti-CAA slogans. A consortium of Left, Muslim organisations and college students’ associations across the southern state joined the day-long all-India Bharat bandh to protest against the CAA and the NRC (National Register of Citizens) and sought their repeal as they both were discriminatory and draconian. About 500 baton-wielding police personnel were deployed at Town Hall to prevent sit-in demonstrations against the CAA and the NRC. Additional police forces were also stationed at Mysore Bank circle and Freedom Park in the city centre to prevent protests. On Wednesday night, Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao imposed the ban order from Thursday to Saturday as a precautionary measure following the shutdown call by various organisations. “Normal life, however, remained unaffected across the city and it was business as usual. We placed additional forces at sensitive areas and crowded places like railway stations, city bus complexes, inter-state bus terminus, markets, malls, colleges and university campus,” said Singh. As the police received reports of proposed pro-CAA and anti-CAA rallies, Rao said the ban would prevent holding them and thwart possible clashes between them. Section 144 was also clamped in other parts of Karnataka, with additional police forces deployed in cities and towns across the state to maintain law and order. “We have advised the people not to join or participate in any protest march or demonstration to maintain peace and prevent untoward incidents,” Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) A.K. Pandey told reporters. According to reports from across the state, normal life, however, remained unaffected in many towns and cities, with schools, colleges, shops, eateries and offices functioning and public transport playing. Protests also erupted at Kalaburagi, Hubballi, Shivamogga, Mangaluru, Raichur and Bidar across the state against the CAA. “As the ban order was clamped across the state, the protestors were detained and taken to the nearest police station. They will be freed later in the evening when the shutdown concludes,” Pandey said. The CAA grants Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities, like Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, from the neighbouring Muslim-majority countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who have taken shelter in India as on December 31, 2014.

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