Hyderabad, Jan 4
Thousands of citizens turned up to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens at Hyderabad’s Dharna Chowk on Saturday afternoon. The ‘Million March’ protest, which was conducted by an umbrella of Muslim and civil society organizations, drew a sea of protestors from all walks of life, in spite of the Hyderabad police stating that only 1,000 people would be allowed to gather at the site.
The protest in a way was a victory for the organizers, who were first refused permission to conduct a rally at Hyderabad’s Tank Bund (which is one of the main thoroughfares connecting different parts of the city) last month. The permission to hold the public meeting at Dharna Chowk was given after the organizers approa-ched the Telangana High Court, which asked the city police to reconsider the application for the protest. The cops finally allowed for the meeting to be held from 2 to 5 pm.
Given the anti-CAA and -NRC sentiments running among citizens, many turn-ed up for the protest much before 2 pm, with the crowd continuing to swell even at around 3 pm. The incoming sea of citizen protestors also resulted in the police opening the NTR Stadium behind Dharna Chowk, in which many of the protestors were accommodated. The turnout was undeniably much high-er than what was expected.
From “Inquilab Zinda-bad" to “Narendra Modi down down", protestors chanted various slogans. Even Communist Party of India (CPI) leader and former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar’s “Aazadi" slogans reverberated among the protestors, who raised the Indian tricolour high up as they carried on their protest.
“People are very angry and frustrated. The Centre will now know better than to go ahead with the NRC. This protest isn’t just about the CAA or NRC, but about all the atrocities that were being committed against minorities by right-wing activists associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)," said Mohd. Imran, a student who turned up at the protest along with his friends.
Muslim women, including housewives and the elderly, also turned up in large numbers. Several students from across the city also gave their college a miss or left early from classes to show up in solidarity.
Moreover, from across the city, business owners from markets like the Pathargatti (in the Old City) and Abids areas also downed their shutters in solidarity and showed up the ‘Million March’ protest.
The major protest, which a police official, who did not want to be named, said easily touched 10,000 people, comes just about 10 days after the RSS also held a march at the Saroor Nagar stadium (which comes under the Rachakonda police limits. The Greater Hyderabad area is divided between the Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda commissionerates) on 25 December last year.
“If the police can allow those RSS people to march on the streets, then there is no way they can deny us our right to protest. We are coming here with the Indian flag in hand, and not the saffron flag which essentially is a symbol of divisiveness. It is very unfortunate that the organizers had to go to the High Court, which clearly shows that the cops are also biased," said Sara Syeda, a second-year graduate from the city who turned up to protest with her friends.
Prior to this, a similar protest was held at Dharna Chowk in December last year after the CAA was passed. Post that, many flash protests were also organized by ordinary citizens, who were fed up of the police not giving permission to protest anywhere in the city. Livemint