People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 48

November 28, 2010


Mumbai Protests Obama visit


US president Barack Obama landed at Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai at 12.50 pm on November 6, 2010, the day Mumbaikars were celebrating Diwali. His host UPA government was sure that Obama was to face hostile protest demonstrations at many places, if he is taken by road to Taj Mahal Hotel, where he was to stay. So they flew him on helicopter to INS Shukra anchored in sea in the vicinity of his place of stay. The whole area in South Mumbai, surrounding Taj was turned into a fortress. Citizens, hawkers and photographers who could have otherwise done brisk business, were forbidden to enter the surrounding. About 45,000 policemen and other security personnel were deployed to ensure security for Obama. The police commissioner had banned assembly of more than five persons and demonstrations throughout Mumbai for a fortnight.


At 5.00 pm, Churchgate railway station reverberated with vigorous slogans “Obama Go Back”, “Down! Down! Butcher American Imperialism!”, “Stop pressurising India for pro-US foreign policy, unrestrained opening for US capital and multinationals in agriculture, retail trade, education and the services sectors!” “Lift US embargo on trade with Cuba!”, “Withdraw troops from Afghanistan-Iraq”, “Give justice to Bhopal gas accident victims!” “Extradite Murderer Warren Anderson and Terrorist David Headley to India”.


Slogan shouting demonstrators of CPI(M) and CPI marched towards Taj hotel. Policemen were bewildered, taken aback, they prevented the protestors from marching further. As soon as the protestors with banners, placards, Party flags and black flags trooped out of the platform, policemen and officers barricaded them. There was scuffle between protestors and the police forces, with protestors pushing the policemen trying to prevent them from marching forward. This lasted for half an hour.


Thereafter, slogan shouting protestors and other participants were addressed by CPI(M) state secretary Ashok Dhawale, Mumbai secretary Mahendra Singh CPI Mumbai secretary Prakash Reddy,  Bharat Bachao Andolan leader Feroze Mithibhorewala. When the demonstrators scuffled with police forces, electronic media cameras continuously clicked. Police had not bargained for such vigorous demonstration, anticipating that the demonstrators will walk into the waiting police van or stage tame Satyagraha. The demonstration challenged the police but they were helpless. After the demonstrators had been dispersed, police arrested a few including  CPI(M) state committee member Vivek Monteiro and CPI Mumbai secretary Prakash Reddy. Those taken into custody were promptly released as demonstrations threatened to haunt the police.