A major protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) was held in Mangaluru on Friday, two weeks after violence marred anti-CAA protests on December 19 2019.
This is the first major protest after police firing in the city killed two people. The protest was organised by the Sanyukta Nagarika Vedike at the KC Junction in Talapady amid heavy security deployment. Those present at the protest said that they were opposed to the CAA, NRC and demanded justice for the victims of the police firing on December 19. No police permission was given to hold protests in the city for two weeks after the incident.
'The protest was organised to oppose the unconstitutional CAA, NRC, NPR, and to oppose the police action that killed two people in Mangaluru. We want a judicial enquiry to be conducted by a sitting High Court judge and we want justice to be done. We are not concerned about the compensation being denied but we want justice," Ashraf, a resident of KC Road in Mangaluru told TNM. Ashraf is also a member of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI).
During the protest, Gopal Menon, a documentary filmmaker, Sudheer Kumar, a lawyer and UT Khader, Mangaluru MLA of the Congress, addressed the gathering alongside others. Thousands of people gathered at the protest and according to Ashraf, it will only lead to more people turning up in protests planned in the next week.
"People were afraid to come to a protest because they were wary that the situation will turn violent again. There was also confusion over obtaining permission for the protest but we took responsibility for it and wanted to conduct the protest even if the crowd is less so that the idea is made clear to people. After the protest was held peacefully, people who did not attend this time said that they will turn up in future protests," Ashraf added.
Further protests against the CAA and NRC are planned in Ullal on Sunday and in Derlakatte on January 12.
However, a peace protest scheduled to be held at Nehru Maidan in Mangaluru on Saturday was postponed after a request was made by Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai. The call for the peace protest was issued by the Muslim Central Committee of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi. However, the Mangaluru City Police denied permission for the protest to be held and cited that the Nehru Maidan located at the centre of the city was not suitable for holding protests.
Police officials said that there were civil works taken up near the ground and essential services like hospitals and fire services were located in its vicinity. The police said that a protest would "severely disrupt these highly essential services", in a statement issued to the press.
Mangaluru remained tense after the events of December 19. Police had barged into Highland Hospital and threw tear gas shells into the lobby. A veil of apprehension was cast among the people of Mangaluru, who were hesitant to hold protests even as police began issuing notices to protesters to appear for questioning.