Peaceful protests by students, youth and social activists held at two places, not very far from each other, in Mumbai over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) on Friday.
But both the protests were opposite to each other as one was anti-CAA held in Azad Maidan in South Mumbai, while the other was pro-CAA held at August Kranti Maidan.
Interestingly, both the venues were just four kilometres away from each other.
At August Kranti Maidan, the procession was in favour of the CAA/NRC led by some right-wing groups including Bharatiya Janata Party. While at the Azad Maidan, it was in against where many activists and students, as well as many actors and celebrities, participated.
At Azad Maidan where the anti-CAA protesters were gathered were raising slogans against the BJP-led NDA government at the centre. They carried tricolour flags and pictures of national figures like Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar.
“This is like a totalitarian government which bulldozed anything, believes it can do anything. It is the government’s responsibility to uphold, and not subvert the Constitution,” said an activist protesting at the spot.
An activist, protesting against the Citizenship Act, told NDTV that the combination of Citizenship Act, National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register will be a repeat of demonetization.
“CAA, NRC and NPR is not only a religious issue, but it will also affect everybody. We do not want demonetization Part 2,” the activist told NDTV at the Azad Maidan.
“This is an authoritarian regime. It thinks they can do anything. It is this government’s responsibility to protect and not oppose the Constitution,” said a protester quoted by news agency PTI.
As per the reports, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) for Social Justice had organised the anti-CAA protest. It was planned by them to start a rally from Byculla to Azad Maidan, but they were denied police permission.
It was reported that student leaders namely Umar Khalid, Mashkoor Usmani, former president of Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union, Hammad-ur-Rahman from Jamia Millia Islamia and Fahad Ahmad from TISS were present at the protest at Azad Maidan.
The organisers also told that former Bombay High Court judge Justice BG Kolse-Patil, Congress MP Kumar Ketkar, Swara Bhasker and Richa Chaddha from Bollywood industry were also present at the protest.
On the other hand, at the August Kranti Maidan, former Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis addressed the gathering where he criticised the Uddhav Thackeray government for not granting permissions for the pro-CAA protests.