Protests erupted across the National Capital on Friday evening after a relatively peaceful day of city-wide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) . A vehicle was set ablaze outside the Daryaganj police station followed by stone-pelting by protesters. The police responded with baton charges and water cannons to control the crowds.
Late in the evening, protests continued at several locations, including Jama Masjid, Seelampur, Seemapuri, Connaught Place and India Gate.
M.S. Randhawa, Delhi police spokesperson said protesters marching from Jama Masjid to Jantar Mantar, were stopped at Delhi Gate. Police persuaded them to disperse. In the evening, suddenly some anti-social elements in the gathering started breaking the barricades and indulged in stone-pelting in a bid to march towards Jantar Mantar against the police advice. Police used water cannon and absolutely minimum force to push them back.
“Around 40 protesters have been detained. Several protesters got injured during the rampage have been rushed to LNJP hospital for treatment,” said Mr Randhawa.
The epicentre of the protest was around the Jama Masjid where a large number of people held a protest after Friday prayers, defying prohibitory orders and police clampdown.
Dodging the Delhi police, Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad surfaced inside the Jama Masjid, hours after security personnel tried to detain him and stopped his march to Jantar Mantar.
Mr. Aazad urged his supporters to carry on the protest peacefully.
“Those who are indulging in violence are not our people. Our peaceful protest continues at the historic Jama Masjid. Ambedkarites do not indulge in violence...Those indulging in violence are from RSS and not from our outfit. I am at Jama Masjid and will stay here,” he tweeted.
As many as 17 stations on the metro network were closed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), in a bid to restrict movement of protesters. Entrances and exits to major stations like Rajiv Chowk, Central Secretariat and Kashmere Gate were also closed with only interchange facilities available to commuters already on the network.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra joined students protesting against the CAA at the India Gate, saying the measures were “anti-poor”. Accompanied by her daughter Miraya, Ms. Gandhi said the government wants every Indian to stand in line to prove one’s citizenship in the same manner in which they did after note ban.
In support too
While demonstrations against the Act took place across Delhi, a large crowd gathered at the Central Park in Connaught Place in support of the CAA.
Amidst chants of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, those backing the Act held a rallt along the inner circle against “opposition parties who were fooling people by spreading misinformation.”
(With inputs from PTI)