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Mumbai protest: Protesters evicted from Gateway of India and relocated to Azad Maidan

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on January 07, 2020 Published on January 07, 2020

Protests being held at Azad Maiden against the use of violence by goons in Delhi's JNU has been called off. This comes after the Mumbai police shifted the venue for the gateway of India in South Mumbai to Azad Maiden. Photo: Paul Noronha

Hundreds of people gathered at the Gateway of India under a spontaneous ‘Occupy Gateway’ protest to express their support and condemn the violence against JNU students

Authorities have relocated over 100 people protesting against the attack on students in JNU to Azad Maidan.

The protesters, who were camping near the Gateway of India, have been moved to Azad Maidan on Tuesday morning according to reports.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Gateway of India under a spontaneous ‘Occupy Gateway’ protest to express their support and condemn the violence against Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students on Monday.

Violence erupted on the JNU campus on Sunday as masked goons entered the campus and hostels, attacked the students and vandalised property. Placards protesting the JNU attack and demanding resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah were spotted.

The protests became further controversial as ‘Free Kashmir’ campaigning began amid ongoing protests. Mumbai Police is said to be investigating the matter, reports said.

The protesters are currently not allowed to leave the ground nor is anyone allowed to enter the protest grounds to prevent further disruption.

Reason for relocation

The Mumbai Police said that the primary reason for the eviction was the inconvenience caused the public in the form of traffic jams and road blocks.

Authorities claimed that they have received complaints regarding the inconvenience caused by the protest near Gateway of India, which is a tourist spot. They also received complaints from the Taj Hotel, which is located near the protest area.

“It was an unlawful assembly. People were getting inconvenienced,”said DCP Sangramsingh Nishandar in an interview with Quint. “They have the right (to protest) and they were told that they can come to Azad Maidan and protest, but they were insistent on Gateway of India. It is historical place, we cannot take Mumbaikars for granted. Roads cannot be jammed and blocked.”

Mumbai Police, which is active on social media, explained the whole situation in a series of tweets. “Dear Mumbaikars, Azad Maidan is the designated place for all agitations in South Mumbai as per Hon. HC instructions,” a tweet read. “However, some agitators gathered at an important South Mumbai location for a long duration without any permission causing immense inconvenience to office going Mumbaikars, local residents, tourists and also caused major traffic congestion in the area.”

“Despite repeated sincere endeavours from the local Police to convince them to relocate to Azad Maidan, they remained unreasonably adamant. Consequently, in the interest of the general public, they were relocated to Azad Maidan, in a peaceful and professional manner. We call upon fellow Mumbaikars to desist from taking any step which may cause inconvenience to the citizens.”

Mumbai Police is said to have peacefully located the protesters to Azad Maidan from the Gateway Protests and is said to have used force only when necessary according to reports.

Better facilities

Better toilet and water facilities at Azad Maidan, coupled with convenience were cited by authorities as major reasons for the relocation.

A tweet sent out by senior journalist Sachin Kalbag read, “We were shifted peacefully, the police did not use any aggression or violence,” one protester told me. “Just that they are not letting us go back to Gateway of India. #GatewayOfIndia #GatewayProtest”

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Published on January 07, 2020
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