Massive Protest at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan Warns Against Imminent NPR
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan to register their disapproval against CAA-NRC-NPR.
Even as the Maharashtra government is reportedly gearing up to implement NPR enumeration in the state, tens of thousands of protesters gathered at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan on Saturday, 15 February, to register their disapproval against CAA-NRC-NPR.
Speakers addressing the gathering repeatedly urged the protesters that, as and when NPR enumerators visit their homes, they should refuse to furnish any information to them.
The protest was organised by the Maharashtra chapter of the 'National Alliance Against CAA-NRC-NPR’, and those in attendance had come to Azad Maidan from various parts of Mumbai and suburbs like Navi Mumbai and Thane.
Waving the Tricolour and holding banners denouncing CAA-NRC-NPR in their hands, the protesters raised slogans like ‘Modi-Shah se azadi, CAA-NRC se azadi’ (freedom from PM Modi and Amit Shah, freedom from CAA and NRC).
Justice (retired) BG Kolse Patil, social activist Teesta Setalvad, actor Sushant Singh, Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi were among those who spoke at the protest.
Massive Turnout at Azad Maidan
Here’s a picture that gives you a sense of how big the turnout at Azad Maidan was.
From the dais, speakers also recited Faiz Ahmad Faiz's famous Urdu poem "Hum Dekhenge", which has become a veritable anthem for the anti-CAA protests in the country.
Saffron Flags at Protest Against CAA-NRC-NPR
Maharashtra Gears Up for NPR
In the midst of nationwide protests against the CAA, NRC and NPR, the Maharashtra government has reportedly started preparations to begin enumeration for the National Population Register and census exercises in the state.
Twenty district collectors and 15 municipal corporation chiefs were briefed on 6 February about the execution of the NPR by Census Director Rashmi Zagade and the General Administration Department’s Principal Secretary, Valsa Nair, Mumbai Mirror reported.
The exercise, which the Union Government expects to be carried out from 1 May to 15 June, will use a force of about 3.34 lakh people to implement the two procedures in Maharashtra.
The Sena-NCP-Congress state government is expected to issue a notification about the drive soon, Hindustan Times reported, citing officials within the ministry.
NPR: A Pressure Point for Sena-NCP-Cong Coalition
While the Congress has spoken against NPR, the NCP and Sena have remained relatively quieter about the issue. NCP leader Majeed Memon, however, sought to clarify that the Sharad Pawar-led party too is against the NPR exercise.
“It is clear that the NCP is not supporting NPR. Sharad Pawar has made it clear. The ultimate decision has to be accepted by all three parties.”Majeed Memon, NCP, in a statement to CNN-News18
The Maharashtra government has not introduced a resolution to boycott the NPR, unlike West Bengal, Kerala and Puducherry, whose Assemblies have passed formal resolutions against conducting the population register exercise.
Anti-CAA protesters in Mumbai Bagh, Mumbra and elsewhere in the state have maintained throughout that their opposition is against the CAA, NRC and NPR.
Xavier's Former Principal Expresses Dismay Over Violence on Campuses
Addressing protesters at Azad Maidan, Father Frazer Mascarenhas, a Jesuit priest and former Principal of St Xavier's College, Mumbai, said, "I was Principal of Xavier's for 12 years. I just cannot imagine how goons can enter a college campus and unleash violence and the police not do anything. When there was a terrorist attack in this part of the city (next to the college campus, on 26/11), the police arrived within minutes. But in JNU, violence went on and the Delhi Police did nothing."
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