On Rohith Vemula's death anniversary, Bengaluru students protest against CAA-NRC

Students from various colleges attempted to stage a 48-hour protest, but were forced to disperse by cops within hours.
On Rohith Vemula's death anniversary, Bengaluru students protest against CAA-NRC
On Rohith Vemula's death anniversary, Bengaluru students protest against CAA-NRC

Students from various colleges in Bengaluru attempted to launch a 48-hour satyagraha in the city on Friday to commemorate the death anniversary of Rohith Vemula, a PhD scholar who killed himself in 2016 following institutional discrimination in the University of Hyderabad. The protest was also against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The protest began at 6 pm on Friday, but police made them wrap up the protest at around 9.30 pm, taking pictures of them and sending it to college principals in an attempt to identify them. This protest was held to coincide with Home Minister Amit Shah’s rally in Hubballi on Saturday.

Around 20 protesters arrived at the Freedom park at 6pm on Friday and sat on the grounds, waiting for more people to show up, but the police barricaded the entrance and didn’t allow any more protesters to enter the ground. The police claimed that the protest did not have the permission to hold an overnight protest. Meanwhile, protesters who arrived and couldn’t enter the Freedom Park grounds, sat on the footpath with candles awaiting permission to enter. The streetlights around the Freedom Park were turned off while all other streetlights were on.  Two buses were parked in the grounds to detain the students.

“We had given an intimation letter, and got it sealed by the police, but they are saying that there was no permission given,” said one of the students, who wished not to be named.

The Upparpete police inspector, speaking to the students, said that they have no problem with daytime protests, but overnight protests need more police presence than they were able to provide. “We have allowed protests from all kinds of people, from workers, women’s groups, and disabled people. We want to cooperate with all protests. But we have been at Freedom Park all day (for the protest organised at Freedom Park in the evening), and the police need to go home. Please leave, don’t make us into bad people,” he urged the students, many of whom were women.

The police then began taking pictures of the students and asking the college principals to identify the students. The DCP West told those seeking permission from him about the exercise towards identifying protesters. Rohan, an activist present at the protest, advised students to cover their faces.

The students, however, wanted to continue to protest overnight, citing the Shaheen Bagh protests, and the Tis Hazari court judgement in the Chandrashekar Azad case in Delhi that said that there needs to be no police permission for protests. They shouted slogans against Amit Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Karnataka Chief Minister Yediyurappa. They read out the letter written by Rohith Vemula before his death, and also sang songs such as ‘We shall overcome’, ‘Hum dekhenge’, and ‘Imagine’. Protesters also rapped against the CAA and NRC.

The police warned protesters that there is an arrest warrant issued for those who stay on the grounds after 10 pm. Protesters then sang the national anthem and left the grounds.

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