‘Mumbai’s Shaheen Bagh’: Gateway of India Midnight Protest Goes On
That’s a phrase we kept hearing again and again outside the iconic Gateway of India late on the night of Sunday, 5 January, as hundreds of Mumbaikars gathered for a massive midnight vigil in solidarity with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), hours after masked goons assaulted students and professors on campus.
If Mumbai residents coming out of their homes at midnight for a protest seems unlikely to you, wait till you hear this. The impromptu protest is still on, after more than twelve hours since it began.
The call for the continuous sit-in was unplanned as well. A while after 2 am on Sunday night, one of the protesters from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences made a remark, which immediately resonated with many of those gathered. She said, “Why should we leave this place? Why should this protest end tonight? We should stay here. Let us make the Gateway of India Mumbai’s Shaheen Bagh!”
The anger against what happened in Delhi was palpable, but the protest was entirely peaceful. From chants of “Azadi” to slogans saying “We Are JNU”, from poetry recitals to passionate speeches by students and activists, the condemnation of the attack on JNU rang loud and clear.
The Delhi Police, which comes under the purview of the central government, was slammed for its role in allowing the violence.
Mohammad Ikram, a 46-year-old fashion designer, was one of the protesters on Sunday night. “I am here to protest against the violence in JNU. If you beat and assault anyone who disagrees with you, it is called a dictatorship,” he said.
How did Ikram find out about the protest, we asked him. “I got a message on WhatsApp from a friend at 1:30 am, saying that a protest was on, and I came here immediately.”
There was also a candlelight vigil to show solidarity with the JNU students, as the protesters assembled on the pavement across the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel near the Gateway of India.
Can Gateway of India then truly become Mumbai’s Shaheen Bagh? Given how the city has chosen to surprise us, who knows?
Assault on a University: JNU Edition
Violence broke out in JNU on Sunday night as masked men armed with sticks and rods attacked students and teachers and damaged property on the campus.
Eyewitnesses alleged that the attackers entered the premises when a meeting was being held by JNU Teachers' Association over the issue of violence on the campus, and assaulted students and professors. They also barged into three hostels.
Video footage shows a group of men, who were brandishing hockey sticks and rods, moving around a building.
The Left-controlled JNUSU and the RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) blamed each other for the incident.
(With inputs from PTI)
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