Bengaluru: Thousands of anti-Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) protesters on Monday brought the Karnataka capital to a grinding halt with huge rallies and sit-in demonstrations to demand its withdrawal, police said.
"As Section 144 (of the CrPC) was lifted on Sunday across the city after three days, protest marches and sit-in demonstrations were allowed under tight security. Barring stray incidents, the protests were by and large peaceful," a police official told IANS.
Being the first working day of the week, the peak hour vehicular traffic was gridlocked due to the protests. As 35-40 organisations representing students, activists, lawyers and minorities under the 'Joint Action Committee of Bengaluru' marched to Quddus Saheb Eidgah ground near Cantonment from different routes, the city was under lockdown for hours since noon.
"Vehicular movements were diverted and parking banned on all roads to enable the protest rallies proceed to the grounds under enhanced vigil," Deputy Commissioner of Police, Central, Chetan Singh Rothore said.
Fearing trouble and attacks, shops and commercial establishments in many areas downed shutters as protestors marched to the venue.
"As the ground was packed with about 1 lakh protestors, including women and elders, barricades were placed around to prevent stampedes and gates were shut to avoid overcrowding," added Rathore.
Carrying placards and banners against the CAA, the protesters pledged to launch a civil disobedience movement if the Union government did not scrap the CAA and stop implementing the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
"The Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS want two countries like Mohammed Ali Jinnah. One Islamic and another for Hindus. The BJP should change its name to Bharatiya Jinnah Party," former IAS officer Harsh Mander told the protesters, drawing huge applause and jeers.
Calling upon the people to revive Gandiji's civil disobedience movement against the British during the freedom struggle, he said the people should prepare to go jail to prevent the implementation of the CAA.
Former IAS officer Shashikant Senthil, who resigned as Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada in protest against the Centre's "anti-people policies", accused the Modi government of planning to divide and rule the people.
Retired Supreme Court judge Gopal Gowda, who also participated in the protest demo, read the Preamble of the Constitution with several lawyers.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah should allay the fears of the people on the purpose of the CAA and NRC," he said.