Protesters to oppose the amended Citizenship Act
Protesters to oppose the amended Citizenship Act
Photo by PTI

Mumbai: Women who have been staging a sit-in demonstration against CAA-NRC at Morland Road, Nagpada, dubbed `Mumbai Bagh’, on Friday accused political leaders in the `co-ordination committee’ of the protests of wrongly claiming to represent them, and alleged these politicians were now exerting pressure on them to end the protest.

The protestors said the demands of the women staging the sit-in protests were not being heard, and they were not consulted before a delegation of political leaders met state home minister Anil Deshmukh on Tuesday. They said a committee led by women protestors would be formed, which would deal with the government on behalf of the protestors henceforth.

At a press conference at Morland Road on Friday afternoon, the women said a number of political leaders had visited the protest site since the demonstration began on January 26, and that they wrongly claimed to be the representatives of the protestors.

“Political leaders like Rais Shaikh (Samajwadi Party) and Naseem Sidiqqui (Nationalist Congress Party) visited us for a brief period. Later, they went out and told everyone that they are our representatives, which is absolutely false. This is a voluntary agitation and by giving out such false statements, the leaders have let us down,” said Nada Batliwala, one of the women who have been at the protest site since January 26.

“We were not even aware of the meeting with the home minister. Moreover, not a single woman was present at the delegation and the leaders went ahead and claimed that they were representing us,” added Batliwala.

Earlier, on February 1, a group of women called off the protests citing security reasons. However, another group resisted and ensured continuation of the protest. On Thursday afternoon, NCP leader Naseem Siddiqui, who claimed to be one of the representatives of the women, stated that he could no longer be held responsible for the ongoing protests.

“By using the local police, political leaders have tried to create immense pressure on us to call off the protest. We will not move from the venue unless the state passes a resolution in the state legislature against the imposition of CAA and NRC in Maharashtra,” stated Alabida B.

Activist Feroze Mithiborewala, who has been spearheading the campaign, on Friday said many local political and Muslim community leaders wanted to wind up the protest.

“Both Naseem Sidiqqui and Rais Shaikh came to speak with the women at 4 am in the morning, asking them to vacate the place. However, the women resisted and they are clear on their stand,” claimed Mithiborewala.

Meanwhile, a letter signed by members of the co-ordination committee on Thursday, in which they had agreed to call of the protest by 5 pm on February 6, was being circulated on social media platforms. Signed by Naseem Siddiqui (NCP), Amin Patel (Congress), Abu Azmi and Raees Shaikh (Samajwadi Party), the letter states, “On the assurance given by CM Thackeray and HM Deshmukh, we the members of coordination committee of the sit-in protest of Mumbai Bagh will call off the protest on 5 pm at Thursday, February 6”.

Confirming the authenticity of the letter, Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Azmi said, “We issued the letter after the delegation met home minister Deshmukh. Now we are no longer responsible for the protests, and this is being carried on by people who don’t belong to our party or organization.”

Commenting on the letter, Mithiborewala said, “They are making a false claim of being the leaders. They were here for not more than ten minutes. We don't have any committee yet, and we will form a committee that will be led only by the women who are present here.”

He added, “Neither CM Thackeray nor home minister Deshmukh has given any assurances. We are having a dialogue with senior officers of Mumbai Police for the permission to continue our protests as we won't move unless our demands are met.”

Photojournalists to boycott Maharashtra Police Marathon

The Bombay News Photographers Association (BNPA) will be boycotting the Maharashtra Police Marathon to be held on February 9. This comes a day after senior photojournalist Ashish Raje was assaulted by Mumbai Police officers while covering the anti-CAA protests at Nagpada.

Following a meeting called at the Mumbai Press Club, the BNPA demanded immediate suspension of the police officers.

"We are satisfied that home minister Anil Deshmukh has directed a probe in the unwarranted assault. We will continue to review the probe process and continue our protest till a proper action is taken," said BNPA president Vivek Bendre. 

BNPA secretary Rajanish Kakade said that the entire photojournalist fraternity will stay away from reporting the Police Marathon. "We stand united and we thank all associations which have supported us," he said.

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