The Mumbai Police on Tuesday cleared thousands of protestors and activists — who gathered to condemn the attacks in the JNU campus late on Sunday — from the iconic Gateway of India, and shunted them to Azad Maidan, a top official said here.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone I) Sangram Singh Nishandar led a police team to the Gateway of India and requested the protestors, who occupied the area since Sunday midnight to vacate and go to the Azad Maidan, around 2 km away, but they refused to comply.
“The protest here is causing inconvenience to the people, office-going commuters, tourists… Plus, there are no water and toilet facilities here. So we have ”relocated” them to Azad Maidan which is better equipped for such mass gatherings,” DCP Nishandar told the media.
There are indications that the police may book the protestors for trespassing at the venue without police permission which is also a landmark tourist attraction, opposite the Hotel Taj Mahal, and the jetties from where people bound for Elephanta Island or mainland locations like Raigad and Ratnagiri, etc can board ferries, motor-boats, catamarans, etc.
The protests in Mumbai started in a small way around midnight (Sunday-Monday), through messages relayed on social media networks with candle-lit vigils and a procession to the iconic Gateway of India. By afternoon of Monday, the trickle swelled into huge crowds at the Gateway of India, with many protestors apparently prepared for a long vigil on Monday night.
Many of them carried stocks of snacks and water, mobile chargers and battery banks, basic medicines, blankets/shawls to beat the chill, even tampons and napkins. Local eateries chipped in their support by throwing open their toilets for the protestors and even made arrangements for food and water for them as per their requirements.
Present at the Gateway of India on Monday were several politicians and celebrities like Sushant Singh, Varun Grover, Shrikant Matondkar, legislators Abu Asim Azmi, Rohit Pawar, Kapil Patil, farmers leader Ashok Dhawale, activists like Jatin Desai, Fahad Ahmad, NCP leader and Housing Minister Dr. Jitendra Awhad, among many more, who joined the protests.
The participants included students from IIT Bombay, TISS, the University of Mumbai, several city colleges, youth and social organisations, activists and others, who trooped with hand-painted banners/posters with anti-BJP-ABVP slogans, the National Tricolour, pictures of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and other leaders, and demanded action against the perpetrators of the violence at the JNU campus on Sunday.