Anti-CAA protesters held in Hyderabad, rally foiled

Hyderabad, Dec 19  Hyderabad police detained scores of protesters heading to attend a rally by the Left parties and Muslim organisations here on Thursday to protest against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

A tense atmosphere prevailed around Exhibition Grounds in Nampally in the heart of the city as police sealed the roads leading to the rally venue and rounded up protesters trying to gather there.

The Left parties and various Muslim organisations have called for a rally from the Exhibition Grounds to State Assembly building. Police, however, denied permission for the same.

Communist Party of India (CPI) leaders K. Narayana, Aziz Pasha, and Chada Venkat Reddy, Legislative Council member Narsi Reddy, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader N. Narasimha Reddy, Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) President M. Kodandaram, Jamat-e-Islami Telangana and Odisha unit chief Hamid Mohammed Khan were among the leaders arrested by the police when they were heading towards the venue of the rally.

“This is unjust. Is there a democracy or a police raj,” said Aziz Pasha, protesting the arrest. He said the issue related to the Constitution and the Left parties would not keep quiet.

Khan condemned the arrests. “It is police ‘zulum’ (oppression). We were here to hold a peaceful rally,” he told reporters.

Police personnel were seen preventing burka-clad women from heading towards the venue. They were rounded up and carried away in a waiting police vehicle.

Police erected barricades on the roads to stop the protestors. Traffic was thrown out of gear at nearby Moazzam Jahi Market, a busy intersection connecting key markets.

“We were gathering here to protest against CAA, which is unconstitutional. This legislation will weaken the country and damage its ‘Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb’,” said a protester, as he was being taken away by the police.

“Narendra Modi made people stand in queues with demonetisation. Now he wants people to once again stand in queues to prove their citizenship. This will affect people, especially poor, irrespective of their religion,” said another protestor.

The rally was originally planned from the historic Charminar to Exhibition Grounds, but South Zone police denied permission for the same. The organisers had planned a huge gathering at the sprawling grounds.

Though the Left parties and others changed the plan, the police refused to give permission even for a truncated rally.

Police said there was no permission for rallies or any protest programme. It appealed to people not to believe the messages being circulated on the social media.

There was heavy police deployment at Charminar. The monument was out of bound for the visitors. A group of burka-clad women, who had gathered at Charminar, were taken into custody by the police.

Students of Hussaini Alam Government College for Girls were also detained by the police for staging the protest.

Security was tightened in the communally sensitive Old City to prevent any untoward incident.

The police curbs on protests came under criticism from protesters. They slammed the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government for not allowing peaceful and democratic protests. “TRS says it is against CAA but why is it not allowing peaceful protests,” asked a students’ leader at University of Hyderabad.

Cyberabad police detained nearly 100 students of the university as they were heading to participate in the rally. Police whisked away the students from the main gate of the university at Gachibowli and shifted them to Moinabad police station on the city outskirts.

“The students had boarded a bus to leave for the march but police entered the bus and diverted it towards the Financial District,” Kuldeep, a leader of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) told IANS.

Students continued their protest at the police station by reading preamble of the Constitution of India.

The Central University has been witnessing protests since Monday against CAA and the police excesses on students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University.