Mizos Protesting CAA in B’Luru Heckled, Asked If They’re from ULFA
An anti-CAA protest staged by people from Mizoram in Bengaluru last week turned ugly after protesters were heckled.
Two days before the Karnataka police enforced Section 144 in various parts of the state, on 19 December, a silent anti-CAA protest by natives of Mizoram in Bengaluru, led to them being harassed and racially profiled.
A video recording of the incident shows a man, who identified himself as a local resident, asking protesters if they were affiliated to ‘ULFA or some other militant organisation’.
He can also be seen taking photographs of the group and repeatedly asking: ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What are you doing here?’.
The irony of accusing Mizos of being part of Assam’s separatist group was lost on this particular local resident.
On Tuesday, 17 December, around 120 students, professors and professionals from Mizoram held placards and a banner, protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act outside Mizoram House in BTM Layout.
While the protest lasted for 3 hours, till around 6 pm, it was after the actual protest, when only a handful of people remained, that the incident occurred.
In another video taken earlier the same evening, he can be seen arguing with two women over clicking their picture without their consent.
“I am a journalist, this is my area, I can take a picture. If you have the right to protest, I have the right to report what’s happening,” he can be heard as saying. He is also reported to have told some protesters that he was pro-CAA and that they couldn’t protest there.
Just a few minutes before the incident, local police had stopped outside Mizo House and inquired about the gathering. They had taken three of the community leaders to the nearby station for questioning.
Bethel Lalrotluanga, a student who was one of the three people taken to the station, said that the police was friendly and had only wanted to be intimated about such gatherings for their protection.
It was after the cops left that the group claims they were harassed.
‘He Said He Was a Facebook Journalist’
Embassy Lawbei, a former journalist currently working as a professor at a local college, is one of the two women seen on video arguing with the resident. She said that she was forced to step in when the man snatched some posters from girls at the protest.
“He said he's a journalist. I said I was also a journalist and told him to show his ID. That’s when he said he's a Facebook journalist. He started telling people gathering around that we were protesting against Hinduism... he followed us to our waiting auto until the driver also told him to back off,” Lawbei said.
“He snatched their (the girls) posters and said that he supports CAA. He said, ‘This is my locality, why are you protesting here’. I told him we have the right to assemble and protest so I became his target,” she added.
‘Disappointed He Reduced Us to Separatism'
Lawbei said that she was disappointed that the man assumed they were from the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), when they were not even Assamese.
“See that’s the thing, he wouldn’t have reacted if we didn't look different. The cops had come as protocol. I am quite disappointed because I think the whole point of our protest is not us being part of some militant, insurgent group. It’s the opposite of separatism,” she said.
She added that people from Northeast were very ethno-cultural, indigenous people who want to protect their identity. “He didn’t even try to find out where we were from... we are all different but he homogenised us. The only knowledge he had of Northeast is ULFA and that’s sad,” she said.
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