Mumbai Police shifts protestors from Gateway to Azad Maidan citing ‘inconvenience’
Citing ‘inconvenience’ to the public, the Mumbai Police on Tuesday cleared thousands of people protesting against the attacks in JNU campus from the iconic Gateway of India and relocated them to Azad Maidan.
According to reports, DCP (Zone I) Sangram Singh Nishandar led a police team to the Gateway of India and requested the protestors, who had been occupying the area since Sunday night, to vacate and go to the Azad Maidan around 2 km away.
“The protest is causing inconvenience to the people, office-going commuters, tourists. Plus, there are no water and toilet facilities here. So we have ‘relocated’ them to Azad Maidan which is better equipped for such mass gatherings,” Nishandar told reporters.
The city police also defended their actions in a series of tweets.
We call upon fellow Mumbaikars to desist from taking any step which may cause inconvenience to the citizens.
— Mumbai Police (@MumbaiPolice) January 7, 2020
Some of the protestors who trespassed the venue, which is among the city’s premier tourist attractions, without police permission may likely be booked by officials.
While most protestors complied and shifted to Azad Maidan on their own, some claimed that police ‘forced’ them to relocate.
Kapil Agarwal,protester: We were forcibly shifted here to Azad Maidan by Police. But now we have called off our ‘occupy Gateway of India’ protests, it was a successful protest. Our resistance will continue, we have a long line up of programs. #Mumbai pic.twitter.com/5jiYaLflDI
— ANI (@ANI) January 7, 2020
The protest at Gateway of India started small around midnight on Sunday, but more people joined in as news about the gathering spread on instant messaging and social media platforms.
By the next evening, thousands of people – including several politicians, celebrities and activities – had gathered in the area. Those who joined late arrived with essential supplies like water, snacks, blankers, battery banks, etc.
It also saw mass participation from students of several city colleges, including IIT Bombay, TISS, the University of Mumbai.
The agitation comes in the backdrop of violence that broke out inside the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Sunday night when masked men armed with sticks and rods attacked students, teachers, and damaged property on the campus.
The Left-backed JNUSU and the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) have blamed each other for the violence.