Chennai police on Monday detained 6 Citizens Against CAA members, including 5 women, who had gathered at Valluvar Kottam in Chennai to participate in the ongoing anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests. The protests against the controversial Amendment Act has been going on in the city at Valluvar Kottam for the past few weeks.
Those detained were then let off two hours later. TNM reached out to Thousand Lights police inspector Rajasekaran who said, “This has been going on for a few days. When they gather without obtaining prior permission they will be detained for sometime and let off. That is what happened today as well.”
In a Facebook live shared by one of them, Vaishnavi Jayakumar, the police can be seen forcefully taking the activists into the van even while they demand to see the prohibitory order that allows the arrest. Those detained included a person with disability.
At the end of the stand-off that ensued at Valluvar Kottam, five women protesters and a man, Radhika Ganesh, Vaishnavi Jayakumar, Kasturi Adhikary, Syeda Hena Rizvi, Varath Kanth and Vandhana Saptarishi, were taken to the Thousand Lights Police Station.
In the Facebook Live video, Radhika’s request to see the prohibitory order is met with silence from the police’ side. Radhika calls Section 41 of the CRPC (arrest without warrant) a brutal law, practiced since the time of the colonisers. “It has turned into a weapon in the hands of the police. I am not blaming you personally. The police have to be on the side of the people and not the government’s,” she says to the officers gathered.
Following the detention, the group submitted a letter to the station in-charge seeking action against the police for threatening and manhandling the protesters.
“We, common citizens of India and residents of Chennai, gathered at Valluvar Kottam peacefully at 5pm to express our dissent against CAA, NRC and NPR. Without any provocation or violence, the police (50 Nos) threatened, manhandled, and forced us into a van,” reads the letter narrating the course of events.
On police brutality, the letter continues, “We repeatedly requested the police to show us the prohibitory order (sec 41 of the Madras Police act) and assured that we will disperse if such an order was shown to us. However, they did not heed and used undue force to grab, drag and push us into a van. We would also like to mention that we are only 5 women and 1 man. One of whom is disabled and another is a non Tamilian. We are deeply distressed by this undemocratic police brutality. We request that our complaint against the officers who manhandled be immediately filed and due cause be shown for this detention.”
Inspector Rajasekaran further adds that since the detainees were let off a few hours later, their complaint letter was “not pressed”.