Mumbai: Protesters Who Didn’t Even Attend 6th Jan Rally, Booked

“I was in campus the whole time,” says TISS students named in police FIR for attending Hutatma Chowk rally on 6 Jan.

Updated
India
3 min read
(Left to Right) TISS student Bhatta Ram;Protesters gathered at Gateway of India; Activist Feroze Mithiborwala.
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Out of the 31 protesters booked by Mumbai police for attending a march from Hutatma Chowk to The Gateway of India on 6 January, many did not even seem to have attended the rally. The protest that took place a day after masked goons unleashed violence inside JNU, saw many Mumbaikars hold a rally between 2-6 pm on Monday, 6 January. A day later on 7 January, these protesters were booked by the police for unlawful assembly.

TISS Students Union President, Bhatta Ram, is one such individual. Despite being inside the college campus in Mumbai’s Chembur area the whole time, Bhatta Ram’s name found its way into the FIR and he found out about this through his friends.

“At that time, I was in the campus, near the main gate because MLA Rohit Pawar had come to the campus to meet the director. I had written a letter to him on the matter of providing scholarships to Maharashtra’s ST and OBC students. I was in the campus itself and then went out for 10-15 minutes to drink tea outside the campus. Since I was unwell, I didn’t go for any protest that day. Not even the protest at Gateway of India.”
Bhatta Ram, President of Students Union, TISS 
A screenshot of a picture TISS Student Union President Bhatta Ram took with MLA Rohit Pawar on 6 January.
A screenshot of a picture TISS Student Union President Bhatta Ram took with MLA Rohit Pawar on 6 January.
Photo Courtesy: Bhatta Ram

Bhatta Ram who has since then been hospitalised, also has photos to prove his point. TISS professor Dr Meena Gopal too, whose name has been mentioned in the FIR, denied attending the protest.

Activist Feroze Mithiborwala, another individual who has been booked for allegedly attending the march, claimed that he was at the Gateway of India throughout the day

“As far as Hutatma Chowk is concerned, I did not go there. I wasn’t even a part of the rally. I got to know that I was a part of the case over there as well. They don’t have any evidence. So, if they can produce any photographs or video evidence, we’d like to see that.”
Feroze Mithiborwala, Activist 

“By 12-12:15, I reached Gateway of India. Around 2 pm, the police began to talk to me at Gateway because they knew us. They spoke about the constitution and the courts. I said that the constitution is there but the High Courts and Supreme Court in this country are failing the youth and students and people of this country,” Mithiborwala told The Quint.

“To save this country we will have to break the law and gather at the Gateway and we are not going from here. I was at Gateway all through the course of the night and I went home at 6 in the morning. I returned at around 11 am and I was there till that night and back home later,” he added.

The Mumbai police spokesperson told The Quint that an investigation is underway to determine whether those mentioned in the FIR were a part of the protest or not.

“All names mentioned are being confirmed through CCTV footage and other means. Based on the evidence obtained during the investigation, appropriate action will be taken.”
DCP Pranaya Ashok, spokesperson, Mumbai Police 

Meanwhile, uncertainty prevails for those who have been named in the FIR.

“I haven’t yet told my family about the FIR or the fact that I have been admitted to the hospital as they would be stressed. No one from my family is educated. Even if there is an FIR in my name, no one with come to bail me out,” said Bhatta Ram.

“I am stressed out about the FIR because I want to study further, do my PhD abroad but I won’t able to go because of this. Even if I apply for a govt job, the FIR will be mentioned,” he added.

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