‘Undeclared emergency’: Anti-CAA protesters slam imposition of Sec 144 in Bengaluru

Section 144 has been imposed for three days in Karnataka beginning 6am on Thursday until midnight on December 21.
 ‘Undeclared emergency’: Anti-CAA protesters slam imposition of Sec 144 in Bengaluru
‘Undeclared emergency’: Anti-CAA protesters slam imposition of Sec 144 in Bengaluru

The imposition of prohibitory orders in Bengaluru has prompted anger and frustration among several people especially those who were planning to participate in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on Thursday.

Late on Wednesday evening, the Karnataka government imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in the state including in Bengaluru for three days beginning at 6am on Thursday until midnight on December 21. Section 144 prohibits the assembly of five or more people, holding of public meetings, and carrying of firearms.

This comes in the wake of planning protests in Bengaluru that are being held simultaneously as those happening across the nation against CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Slamming the BJP government’s move, historian and author Ramachandra Guha said, “Gujarat and Kashmir have come to Bengaluru. The message that is being sent that you cannot have a peaceful gathering in Bengaluru, a place that you showcase to the world, will come back to haunt those in Delhi who imposed it. This shows they are paranoid, insecure people.”

Guha was scheduled to speak at Thursday’s protest gathering at Town Hall in Bengaluru, which has been seeing multiple protests for the past few days over the Citizenship Amendment Act and the NRC.

Ashok Koyi, a techie who has been mobilising apolitical people to hit the streets on the issue said, “I am told the BJP government in Karnataka is scared and don’t want us to protest peacefully. They have imposed Section 144. It’s good. You know why? Because they are scared of us, the people. They know they are on the wrong side of history. This gives me hope that our actions are having real measurable impact on the ground.” 

"This is an undeclared emergency. The BJP government at the Centre and state level are trying to clamp down on the rights of people to protest freely. By imposing section 144, they are trying to curtail the freedom of speech and expression, a fundamental right. The BJP government is scared of the dissent to NRC and CAA," said Umesh, a member of CPI(M), one of the organisers of a protest in Bengaluru. 

Stating that Left parties would defy the orders, Umesh said they would reach Mysore Bank Circle in Bengaluru at 11 am on Thursday to protest against the CAA and NRC as planned earlier..

Vinay Sreenivasa, a Bengaluru-based lawyer and activist, who was one of the organisers of the protest called by civil society groups questioned the motive of the administration. "Section 144 is being imposed as the BJP government is scared of the voices of people against CAA and NRC. They have cleverly imposed section 144 till December 21 as there is a pro-CAA rally that is to be held on December 22. Why is it so?" he said.

Former Deputy CM and Congress leader G Parameshwara tweeted, “Imposing Section 144 in Bengaluru without any threat of violence is a gross abuse of power by the state government. It is intended to curb the peaceful protests organised by students against #CAA and #NRC. Why is state government silencing young voices? Is it scared of them?”

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