Nithish, whose phone was seized during the incident and still remains with the police as of Friday evening, tells TNM that the experience was distressing.

news CAA Friday, January 31, 2020 - 19:08
Chennai police detained a group of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters who had gathered at Gandhi Manadapam on Thursday to register their dissent against discriminatory policies like the CAA, NRC and NPR. While 9 of the protesters were detained and let off in a few hours, Tamil rapper Nithish and his friend were picked up from outside the venue, were allegedly singled out and made to wait for many hours. “We were not allowed to ask questions and when we did they asked us to just sit quietly,” says Nithish. The two were allowed to leave only after 11 pm, 5 hours after they were detained. 

Nithish, whose phone was seized during the incident and still remains with the police as of Friday evening, tells TNM that the experience was distressing. “Who are you? Where are you from? What is your ambition? Why is your hairstyle like this? Are you going to become a porali (revolutionery)? Why do you want to spoil your future?” These are some of the questions the police had asked him says Nithish. He was asked to collect his phone from the station the next day along with a family member.

“I told them that I wanted to see what was happening since I was invited by one of the organisers. I was also planning to perform,” says the 24-year-old. Nithish, a B Com student from MKB Nagar in Chennai adds that he had written an anti-CAA rap song that he was going to perform for the first time at the gathering.   

Shreela, a lawyer and a protest organiser says the police had no right to detain them separately. “I think they may have looked vulnerable to be picked upon. Did the police keep them longer than necessary since he told that that he was a rapper from North Chennai?” she asks.  

Shreela who is now working on getting his phone back also demands an apology from the police. “I am trying to gather a group of layers to question the police on what grounds they detained the two of them separately. They were kept aside and we were deliberately misled and made to believe that no one else was detained at the station. I believe there is a sinister motive behind all this,” she adds.

She is also hoping to gather rappers and indie artists from the city to organise a larger protest outside the police station. 

TNM was unable to reach Kotturpuram ACP KN Sudharsan for comment despite multiple attempts. 

On Thursday evening, the police took 8 men and a woman into custody and forcefully dispersed the others who had gathered at the site of the meet. The lack of a woman police while detaining a woman protester was criticised by those present. 

The memorial meet was organised by 'Platform against Fascism' and the organisers say that prior permission had been taken from the Mylapore DCP to organise the protest.  However, it was shifted to Gandhi Mandapam in Kotturpuram as per a request by the Mylapore police. 

'There was no woman cop': says lone woman detained for anti-CAA protest in Chennai