Mumbai: Tension intensified between the women protesting against the contentious citizenship laws and the Nagpada police in the early hours of Friday when the cops tried to tear down a makeshift tent, the protesters erected for shade.
The all-women anti-CAA-NRC-NPR protest began on January 26 at Nagpada's Morland road dubbed as Mumbai Bagh. Starting with a group of 45 women, the protest has witnessed hundreds of people joining them every day.
The protesting women alleged at 5.15 am on Friday, the Nagpada police station officers vandalised a makeshift sunroof, made of cloth, they erected to protect themselves from the sun.
“Due to the rise in temperature, we had set up a tent to protect us from the sunlight and heat. The police suddenly came on Friday morning and tried to dismantle it, dubbing it illegal,” said a protester.
She stated, "The cops tried to dismantle the tent for the first time at 2 am on Friday, but were outnumbered by the women. Later, early in the morning, more cops joined them and forcefully tried to move us from the venue."
“The police cut the ropes of the tent around 2 am. However, they were outnumbered by us. When the day broke, when fewer protesters were there, as many were out to fill waters to freshen up from nearby hotels. The police were waiting for the opportunity and came in large numbers, attempting to vandalise our tent,”
She claimed as many as 50 cops gathered at Morland Road and started manhandling them when they stopped them from breaking the makeshift roof. It led to an absolute ruckus and police cane-charged, injuring 36.
Senior inspector Shalini Sharma led the operation and ordered lathi-charge, the protester claimed. Abhinash Kumar, DCP zone 3, said, "An inquiry has been initiated, we are verifying videos of the incident posted on the social media. Until the inquiry is going on, senior inspector Shalini Sharma has been asked not to visit the protest site."
Seven women were taken to the nearby Nair Hospital for X-rays. Shazia Ali, 31, sustained head injuries.
Following the incident, an agitated mob gheraoed the Nagpada police station and sought immediate suspension of Sharma. Over a hundred Muslim men and women raised slogans against the police and blocked the Nagpada road. Traffic movement was suspended for six hours.
“We were leading a peaceful protest. Not a single woman tried to break the law. We cooperated with the police in every possible way, they still used force and baton-charged the women,” said Bilal Siddiqui.
“While manhandling the women, the police were telling them to shift to Azad Maidan or face the music,” said Aslam Shaikh, whose wife, Asifa was one of the 36 injured women. She sustained a knee injury.
(With inputs from Sachin Gaad)