Two people died in police firing during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Karnataka's Mangaluru on Thursday, a day when agitations broke out simultaneously across the country. A curfew has been imposed until Friday midnight in view of the ongoing protests, and mobile internet has also been suspended for the next two days.
In video footage procured by NDTV, around four policemen in riot gear can be seen shooting even as people stand watching from a distance. The action was reportedly taken to quell a crowd of protesters that was increasingly getting out of control.
Restrictions on large gatherings under Section 144 of the CrPC had been placed over the entire state since the previous evening, with the BJP-led state government denying student groups and activists permission to hold protests against the controversial law.
Police also fired teargas shells and launched a lathicharge to disperse hundreds of protesters, mostly college students and members of Left parties, who had gathered at a marketplace in the city in defiance of prohibitory orders, news agency IANS reported. "Our men were forced to fire tear gas shells on the protesters as some of them turned violent. Also, they refused to disperse despite Section 144 of the CrPC being in force," it quoted a police officer as saying. The protesters have been taken into preventive custody.
Police also cracked down on protests in other parts of the state, including Hubballi, Kalaburagi, Hassan, Mysuru, Ballary and Bengaluru, detaining hundreds of people.
Historian Ramachandra Guha was bodily dragged away by police while he was in the middle of an interview with NDTV at the Town Hall protest in the state capital. "I have been detained by the police for holding a poster of Mahatma Gandhi and speaking about the constitution to the press," the 61-year-old said after he was detained with 30 others at the spot.
Many, including Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, expressed shock over an eminient personality like Mr Guha being treated in such a disrespectful manner. "This is shocking, and reflects the total lack of understanding of an individual's fundamental freedom to express dissent. A peaceful protest should not be mishandled in this manner," she tweeted.
Over 100 protesters were detained from various protest venues across Bengaluru through the day.