August Kranti Maidan is witness to history, and while the jury is still out on if the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act are a watershed moment, the venue saw several out of the ordinary scenes on Thursday.
IMAGE: Protesters hold placards and raise slogans against Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC in Mumbai. Photograph: ANI Photo
For a change, denizens of the fast-paced financial capital, who value their time over everything else, came out to protest against the controversial legislation.
It was from August Kranti Maidan in south-central Mumbai that the Quit India movement of 1942 had begun.
As speeches after speeches were made from the spare dais, couplets of Rahat Indori and Faiz Ahmed Faiz were the flavour of the season.
While students dominated the gathering, the protest got support from across age and social groups.
Civil society leaders, Bollywood celebrities, political activists and student leaders took to the dais to denounce the amended Citizenship Act.
Nearly every speaker pointed out perceived legal infirmities and communal undertones in the act, cited precedents of rulers indulging in high-handed behaviour, expressed fear about what future held, and ended by either reading couplets or shouting slogans.
The protest ended with a public reading of and declaration of allegiance to the Preamble of the Constitution and singing of the national anthem.
Though it was anger which brought the crowds to the historical venue, the participants did not forget to ‘plog’, that is, clear out plastic bottles and other junk which littered the ground.
As protests against the CAA turning violent across the country hogged headlines, no untoward incident took place at the August Kranti Maidan during the three hours of agitation.
Over 2,000 police personnel at the venue did not come in the way of protesters, which earned the Mumbai Police plaudits on social media.
Many protesters, before leaving, made it a point to shake hands with the policemen.
Some groups who lingered behind sang ballads and chanted slogans. Groups of youngsters were also seen singing while walking to the nearby Grant Road Railway station.
Many weary protesters patronised an Irani hotel across the road, for chai and bun maska, once a favourite snack of the cosmopolitan city. The name of the old eatery, ironically, is ‘New India Restaurant’.
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