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'Locals Warn You About Routes With Protestors': Indians Living in France

Since the protests broke out, the nights are punctuated with protestors hurling fireworks and clashing with police.

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"Two nights in a row, I kept hearing fireworks go off. Last night, 30 June, at around 2 am, I was woken up by people shouting and screaming. It was very loud. Although I could not see many people from my window, I could hear large crowds chanting slogans in French. More fireworks went off, and eventually, the police came in and cleared out the area." 
Rishabh Radhakrishnan, 27

Saint-Denis, a northern suburb town, is usually very peaceful, but for the last few days, the sounds of fireworks at night are all that Rishabh Radhakrishnan hears.

Since the protests broke out, the nights are punctuated with protestors hurling fireworks and clashing with police.

Protestors and a police van in the Parisienne suburb of Colombes on 30 June 2023.

(Photo courtesy: Charles Martin Raj Pidakala)

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The shooting of a teenager, Nahel M, who was of Algerian descent, by a police officer, has sparked massive protests and riots all across France. 

Over the past few nights, the situation has gotten worse. 

Even as the days are somewhat normal, the nights are punctuated with protestors hurling fireworks, clashing with the police, and chanting slogans. 

Since the protests broke out, 27-year-old Radhakrishnan has avoided heading into the city and has reserved his movement only to his locality. The sheer number of police officers on the streets is highly unusual, he says.

In the quieter city of Metz, located in northeastern France, Salil Kanade, a student, was returning home with a few friends after dinner on the night of Friday, 30 June. He had not thought that the protests would reach Metz. 

Since the protests broke out, the nights are punctuated with protestors hurling fireworks and clashing with police.

A fire breaking out in the distance.

June 30, 2023. Metz, France.

(Photo courtesy: Salil Kanade)

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But, Kanade's group was stopped by locals who warned them of a fire on a particular street and suggested that they avoid it altogether. From a distance, the 23-year-old student spotted the fire and around 7-8 police officers manning the street. 

He also received a text from a friend who lived in a high-rise building in the city that he could see a big fire from his window. 

"The gates to the train station were shut at 7 pm last night (30 June). Only one gate was open. Police officers were checking people who were entering and exiting. They wanted to control the number of people getting on the trains. The trains were still running." 
Salil Kanade, 23

The protests, which have persisted for four days consecutively, have been violent. As many as 40,000 police and riot officers, including France's elite Raid Squad, have been deployed to quell the protests. 

Since the protests broke out, the nights are punctuated with protestors hurling fireworks and clashing with police.

Rioters in the Parisienne suburb of Colombes after a clash with the police on 30 June. 

(Photo courtesy: Charles Martin Raj Pidakala)

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Hundreds of protestors have been arrested, and around 200 police officers have been injured in the clashes. 

Kanade tells The Quint World, "The rioters do not want to harm the civilians per se. They block the roads on their own. They tell you in advance not to enter those roads. It's not like the protests here (in Metz) are starting randomly. But yes, they have been violent." 

Amid the violent protests, Kanade’s family back home in Pune, India, are worried about his safety. “I received a call from home. All are worried about me and want to know the situation in Metz. I assured them that I’m safe and at home,” he said. 

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Topics:  Police Brutality   Paris   France 

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