Bengaluru/ Mangaluru: Protests in Karnataka against the Anti-Citizen-ship Amendment Act claimed its first casualties on Thursday when two men were killed in police firing during a protest march in the heart of the coastal town of Mangaluru, while the capital Bengaluru saw police clamp down on protesters led by historian and author Ramachandra Guha, who was detained and later released along with several hundred activists and students.
The two dead include Jaleel (49) of Kudroli and Nausheen of Bengre (23) who sustained serious injuries in the police firing, and were rushed to hospital. Both were declared dead after about an hour.
Protests had turned violent as the bustling private bus stand at Bunder saw pitched battles between police and the protesters on Thursday. Curfew was clamped across the jurisdiction of five police stations of Mangaluru Central Sub Division after a mob attacked police.
The number of protesters had steadily swelled through the day, despite the district administration clamping prohibitory orders under CrPC 144 on Wednesday night, with participants in the rally, refusing to heed the police call to disperse, shouting slogans and staging a sit-in, blocking access to the bus stand. Police resorted to a lathi-charge and fired tear-gas as they chased the protesters to nearby Nellikai road.
“We had made public announcement about prohibitory orders. But all of a sudden today afternoon around 2 pm, miscreants gathered near Nellikai road and despite our request they pelted stones and bottles at the police,” city police chief Dr Harsha told reporters.
The mob which had re-assembled at RR Circle, about 200 metres from the city bus stand, launched another attack on the police but was dispersed again with the help of additional forces. They retreated and gathered again at Kudroli, police said, and pelting the police with bottles and stones.
“They tried to block the roads and were preparing to attack the police station to set it ablaze and attack the police with lethal weapons. As a last resort police had to fire two rounds in the air. Despite this, the protesters continued to advance and the police had no other go but to use firepower,” the Commissioner said on the police resorting to firing on the protesters.
“We will strictly impose prohibitory orders under Section 144. You can call it curfew. I ask people to be at home in the five police station limits in the central sub division,” the Commissioner said.
Meanwhile hundreds of students, volunteers and Left party workers defied the prohibitory orders in force in the city and converged on the Puttanachety Townhall and the Mysore Bank Circle Thursday to protest against the controversial CAA.
Around 200 of the protestors, who were joined by historian, Ramachandra Guha in their “Naavu Bharatiyaru” and “Hum Bharath ke log” agitation were rounded up by the police and taken away in buses as they refused to disperse.
While Guha was detained as he was talking to the media outside the Town Hall, condemning the Union government for introducing a legislation like the CAA, a large number of volunteers, including teenagers and young women were dragged into buses by the police as they resisted arrest.
There were reports of three male cops manhandling a girl student and of another student suffering a dislocated shoulder in a scuffle with the police. But the policemen involved were reportedly reprimanded by a senior officer.
A clearly disturbed Guha tweeted in protest, “dear police commissioner, your government’s decision has brought disgrace to this ‘international destination.’ This was to be a peaceful protest by citizens, who wish to uphold the values of our Constitution. You have used a colonial-era law to suppress us and our voices. This message that you cannot have a peaceful gathering in Bengaluru will come back to haunt those in Delhi who are responsible for it. This only shows they are paranoid, insecure people.”
One of the protesters sitting in a bus after being detained, recalled that it was on December 19, many years ago freedom fighters, Ashwaq Ulla Khan and others went to the gallows....