A protest against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Old Washermenpet turned violent on Friday after police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowds gathered on the streets. A 70-year-old man is suspected to have died at the time of the protest.
The stir started around 2 pm on Friday, where protesters, including women and children, assembled in huge numbers raising slogans against the implementation of CAA, NRC and NPR. They blocked the interior streets of Old Washermenpet and the entrance to Mint Bridge, police said. A huge contingent of 1,000 police personnel were deployed to forcefully remove people from the spot and put them into detention vans. As a large number of them refused to leave the area, police started lathi-charge to evict them. According to a protestor, the police used excessive force, and at times, groups of 10 simultaneously lathi-charged individual protesters.
“Cops lathi-charged three times between 2 and 5pm. We were injured and some people have been admitted to Stanley Government Hospital,” said another person at the protest. “We refused to move as we were protesting peacefully. That was when police began hitting us,” added the protester on conditions of anonymity. Several were detained and taken to a marriage hall nearby and the area witnessed traffic blocks. As news spread on the death of an old man, violence broke out in the night with a few protestors resorting to pelting stones at the police. Joint Commissioner of Police (West) Vijayakumari was reportedly injured in the melee. Heavy police deployment continued in the area till late in the night. As videos of the incident went viral, widespread condemnation poured out against what appeared to be excessive force by the police. Later, protests spread to other parts of the city, including ECR, Alandur and Anna Nagar. Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan held talks with Muslim group leaders to defuse the situation.