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Over 400 protesters booked for Mumbai’s ‘Shaheen Bagh’, but participants say won’t budge

Mumbai police have issued notice to over 400 protesters on BMC assistant commissioner's complaint that they are blocking road repairs.

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Mumbai: Police in Mumbai have begun registering FIRs against Muslim women leading a Shaheen Bagh-like protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at Mumbai Bagh. The protest entered its 14th day Sunday. 

The FIRs are being lodged on a complaint filed by the assistant commissioner of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Alka Sassane. 

The protesters have been charged under IPC Section 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and over 400 of them have been issued police notices in this regard. 

Over the past 14 days, notices have also been issued to 50 protesters under Section 149 of the CrPC, which empowers police to take action in order to prevent cognisable offences.   

This notice reads that police have been asking the protesters to leave the venue since the night of 26 January but they have refused. 

“You will be held responsible if there is a law and order situation. Traffic has been affected and the local residents are facing a problem,” reads the notice. “If a law and order problem arises you will be held responsible and this notice will be used as evidence against you in court.”

Police have also invoked sections 313 and 314 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, against the protesters. Section 313 says that no person shall, except with the written permission of the BMC commissioner, place upon any public place any chair, bench, box or any other thing so as to form an encroachment. Section 314 gives the civic body powers to remove such an encroachment without notice.   

ThePrint tried to reach Sassane for comment, but repeated calls to her went unanswered. 

Also read: Muslim women come up with ‘Mumbai Bagh’ in solidarity with Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh

Protesters obstructing road repair work: Complaint

Sassane’s complaint says the protesters are obstructing repair work that is underway on the road. However, there has been no repair work on the road for three months. 

Shopkeepers along the road who have been keeping a vigil for the safety of the protesters say the BMC, which is led by the Shiv Sena, has not bothered with pursuing repairs after digging up the road over three months ago.  

“This road has been under construction for a very long time. The choice of the road as a protest venue was precisely because it is a neglected stretch,” social activist Firoze Mithiborwala told ThePrint. “Now they want the women to clear the road as they want to finish the construction work. This is harassment.”

Mithiborwala himself has been served a notice. The social activist, along with a team of volunteers, has been helping the protesters with food, water and keeping an eye on their safety.    

Despite the notices, the women protesters are adamant that they will not leave the road. “They have started harassing us. Ours is a peaceful protest. We are not obstructing traffic or causing a law-and-order problem,” said Nazima (28), who has been at the protest sit-in for the past 14 days.

The Mumbai Bagh women are protesting in solidarity with those at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi. “We will not move before our sisters in Shaheen Bagh do. The politicians think that because we are Muslims they can ill-treat us. This is my country too,” said Shahzia, a homemaker who has also been at the protest site since the beginning. 

Also read: Shiv Sena flip-flop on CAA continues, now Uddhav Thackeray says law has been misunderstood


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