Despite Sec 144 in Jamshedpur, Anti-CAA Voices Remain Undeterred
Section 144 has been used in Jamshedpur time and again to suppress anti-CAA protests.
Section 144 has been used in Jamshedpur time and again to suppress anti-CAA protests.(Photo: Kamran Akhter/The Quint)

Despite Sec 144 in Jamshedpur, Anti-CAA Voices Remain Undeterred

Jharkhand’s Jamshedpur is famous as a calm industrial town and only a few would associate it with agitations or rebellions, even though it has a history of communal riots. At a time when the whole country has risen up to protect India’s secular fabric, Jamshedpur was indeed a late participant to jump on to the bandwagon of the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR).

Despite efforts by some extreme elements and the administration alike to silence this newfound voice of dissent, Jamshedpur is now rising. Entailed below is the sequence of events.

Because of the assembly elections, model code of conduct and Section 144 were imposed in Jamshedpur till 20 December 2019.

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The election results were declared on 23 December 2019, in which the ruling BJP government was overthrown and a coalition government of JMM and Congress emerged victorious. The first major protest, which was scheduled for 24 December, was rescheduled to 26 December with due permission from the administration. It was pushed by two days because there was a pro-CAA rally on the same day. The sub- divisional officer (SDO) first extended the curfew till 4 January 2020, and asked the protesters to reschedule the demonstration as they needed more time to make security arrangements.

The protests held before 26 December were organised at a small scale and had seen lathi-charge by the police, citing violation of Section 144. Section 144 was again extended till 14 January mentioning the protests as the reason.

Women Take the Lead

After 14 January, the protests gained momentum mainly under the leadership of two committees Samvidhan Bachao Sangharsh Samiti and Dastur-e-hind Bachao Samiti.

The protests were confined to some small pockets of the city with a few exceptions. A two-day all women’s sit-in protest at Jugsalai in Jamshedpur proved to be a huge success.

A women’s meeting was held on 24 January where it was decided that a 72-hour Shaheen Bagh-style sit-in protest would be organised on 30 January, i.e. Mahatma Gandhi’s 72nd death anniversary.

On Republic Day, a human chain was formed at Sakchi gol chakkar led by women, which was followed by another women’s protest at Barinagar.

Also Read : Shaheen Bagh Protesters Not Stopping School Buses, Then Who Is?

Jamshedpur’s ‘Shaheen Bagh’ Protest Quelled

An application stating the starting date and time of protest was duly submitted to and received by the administration on 29 January.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

From that evening, posts started circulating on social media, inciting ‘kattar’ Hindus to gather at the protest site at 9:30 am to “stop a Shaheen Bagh from taking shape in Jamshedpur.”

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Police, in the wee hours, went to the protest site and took a few workers and an organiser of the protest to the SDO’s office. This was followed by a meeting between the organisers and the SDO till 3:30 am. It was given in writing that the protest would be rescheduled to 3 February, and a detailed written permission was promised by the administration by 1 February. The reason cited was that the administration needed more time to provide security in lieu of Saraswati Puja and visarjan processions.

The organisers then decided to address the protesters at the site, informing them about the postponement and paid their respect on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Also Read : Women in Khureji Khas Quit Jobs to Participate in Anti-CAA Protest

Meanwhile, a counter-protest by so-called local Hindu outfits like Vishwa Hindu Parishad commenced at the site and there were calls for more people to join them. Despite the presence of the police, they cornered an aged Sikh anti-CAA protest organiser and chanted “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko”. Police formed a human barricade to separate both groups to avoid any escalation. Slogans were raised against the SDO. The police stood as mute spectators.

An anti-CAA protester, who was on his way to pick up his vehicle, was cornered and got involved in a verbal spat with some miscreants and the police. The police detained him but took no detainees from the groups, who were raising violent and provocative slogans.

The organisers of anti-CAA protests filed a complaint at Sakchi Police Station with proof of the provocative social media posts and slogans. The detainee was released in the evening.

There was a complaint filed by members of VHP as well. An FIR was lodged against 25 named and 300 unnamed persons from both sides, and a show-cause notice sent to all (The Quint has accessed these documents).

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Later that night, section 144 was imposed till 14 February. A dharna was organised in front of the deputy commissioner’s office on 31 January but before it started, CAA supporters – under the banner of Hindu Utsav Samiti – tore up posters and placards in the presence of the DC and SDO.

The organisers did not receive the permission on 1 February as promised. They were told that further information will be given after 8 February.

The administration has time and again used Section 144 to quell any sort of protests against the CAA. 

Interestingly, permission was granted for a ‘maha aarti’ in support of CAA on 27 December 2019 at Sakchi’s Ambagan Maidan. Usually, the reason for not granting permission to protest at the same site is that it could flare up communal tensions. How does one site become sensitive for non-violent protesters but the same does not happen for CAA supporters?

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