'Mini Shaheen Bagh' emerges in Chennai after crackdown on anti-CAA protesters

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A 'mini Shaheen Bagh' seems to have been born in Chennai. Several hundred women and children from the Muslim community were seen sitting and raising slogans in front of the police station in Washermanpet in North Chennai on Saturday.

Slogans of Azaadi rent the air as more women walked in to join the agitation condemning the police action on Friday night against the those who were protesting to demand the repeal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The protests have spread to three places in the Washermanpet area alone, including in front of the police station.

The police action at Washermanpet on Friday night has prompted protests at Guindy and other areas in Chennai. Men and women from the Muslim community in Madurai and Kanyakumari have also gathered to demand the repeal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and passing of a resolution during the current budget session in the Tamil Nadu Assembly. The violence on Friday night has also led to protests in Coimbatore, Erode and Thiruvannamalai.

“This is a planned attack by the police and the government against peaceful protesters. All cases against the protesters have to be withdrawn and action should be taken against the policemen who were responsible for the attack,” opposition leader and DMK president M K Stalin said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami met with Chennai city police commissioner A K Viswanathan to be briefed on the situation in North Chennai. The protesters who were arrested were released after Viswanathan held talks with the Muslim community representatives in Chennai on Friday night.

According to protesters, the Muslim men and women gathered to protest in front of a mosque in the Washermanpet area, demanding repeal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act after Friday prayers.

The protest was peaceful till evening on Friday even when slogans of Azaadi rent the air. “Our demand was that CAA be repealed and the Tamil Nadu government pass a resolution against CAA in the current budget session of the Assembly,” said Jawahar Ali, one of the protesters. Around 8pm, the protesters were pulled out, when policemen came to the venue. Heavy police force was deployed to pull out the protesters and make the crowd disperse, during which several men were allegedly injured.

“It was a very peaceful protest. The police forced us to leave. When we refused to leave the venue and continued to protest, we were pulled by our hair and dragged on the road. The men were made to run and beaten with lathis. Some men were carried by policemen and manhandled. At least 20 men and five women were thrown into a van and the van went around this area for some time. Later, they were brought back. But several of them have been injured as they were manhandled,” tells Rafiya Syed, a relative of a woman who was manhandled by the police.

Rafiya, who was also part of the sit-in on Friday, is now agitating with others in front of the Washermanpet police station. “This is police excess. Action should be taken against the policemen who were involved in lathi-charge,” says Rafiya.

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