Catalonia’s long-disputed independence, derived from Catalan nationalism, which seeks the independence of Catalonia from Spain, began today as people came out to vote for the Independence Referendum.

Catalonia's campaign to break away from Spain first gained momentum in 2010 when Spain’s economy fell during the financial crisis.

Now once again Spain is bracing for a challenge to its territorial unity as the Catalan regional Government has arranged for an Independence referendum that has not only been suspended by the constitutional court of the country but has faced brutal blows by the central Government in Madrid. 

But despite these roadblocks, reports in the Guardian suggest that the Catalan Government has predicted that out of 5.3 million eligible voters in Catalonia 60% are going to head to the voting polls in order to challenge the Spanish Government. 

The Spanish government, however, has declared the vote illegal. 

But in spite of continual efforts by the Spanish government and the ongoing rains, people of Catalonia are coming out in great numbers to try and vote. 

Reports say that people have been coming out of their homes and queuing outside Cervantes primary school located in central Barcelona since 5 a.m. An agricultural engineer, Joan Garcia spoke to the Guardian and said that people are in good spirits despite the rains and really serious about their reasons to be here. 

One man present in the crowd who chose to stay anonymous said that the Catalans had a right to vote. "I’m European, not African. In Africa, they don’t let people vote. Catalans need to vote. They’re robbing us in Spain. Spain has lost 22 colonies. Today it’s going to lose another," he said. 

However, regardless of the determined voters, riot police has been deployed everywhere to prevent the vote from taking place. CNN reported that the Deputy Mayor of Barcelona said that members from the Guardia Civil, the national police, fired rubber bullets on people as they attempted to vote. 

Reports further state that the police shattered their way into a polling station by breaking a window in Girona where Regional President Carles Puigdemont was due to vote. 

Ada Colau, Barcelona’s mayor has since tweeted her displeasure about the Spanish police’s involvement in the referendum. She wrote a tweet that translates as: A cowardly president has filled our city with police. Barcelona, the city of peace, is not afraid.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has condemned the violence and asked the Spanish government via Twitter to let the voters vote in peace. 

Several videos of Spanish police in riot gear are being shared on social media.

Catalonia’s government says 38 people have been treated by emergency services till now. 

In their defense, the Spanish national police also took to Twitter and said that it is resisting harassment and provocation while they complete their function of defending the law.

Catalonia, which is an affluent region in Spain, despite having its own regional government has continuously argued that they are a separate nation with their own history and culture. They have demanded fiscal independence. However many, including Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, insist that the country cannot be divided.