Bhim Army chief detained, over 40 in police custody after Friday’s violence

Bhim Army chief detained, over 40 in police custody after Friday’s violence

Chandrashekhar Azad, the Bhim Army’s leader, was taken into custody from outside the Jama Masjid early on Saturday, after giving the Delhi Police a slip on Friday during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the Daryaganj area.

More than 40 people, including at least three minors, were detained after clashes that broke out during the mostly-peaceful agitation against the newly-amended citizenship act in Daryaganj on Friday evening. A case of rioting and arson has been registered at the Daryaganj police station.

Chandrashekhar Azad said he was inside the Jama Masjid during the protest against CAA.

“We have to make sacrifices so that the legislation is taken back. We do not support violence. We were sitting inside the mosque since Friday morning and our people were not involved in violence,” Azad said, according to news agency PTI.

Police resorted to a lathi-charge and used water cannons to disperse the crowd that turned violent in Daryaganj on Friday, just minutes after a two-and-a-half-hour long peaceful agitation against the amended citizenship law got over.

The police action, which followed stone-pelting and arson, forced several people to flee, including many of those who had joined protests that started in the afternoon and went on till evening.

At least 46 people were injured in the stone-pelting and police action.

Police also said the protesters set a private car parked at Subhash Marg in Daryaganj on fire. The fire was immediately doused with water and fire extinguishers.

“Hours after the violent protest near Delhi Gate, around 36 injured people, including eight policemen, got medical treatment at Lok Nayak hospital. One person, who has got a fractured leg is admitted, while two others who have suffered minor head injuries are under observation and not yet admitted,” Lok Nayak Hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Kishore Singh said, according to PTI.

Eye-witnesses said thousands—including protesters, local residents and those who were there to offer Friday prayers—had gathered in the afternoon on Netaji Subhash Marg, where police had put up barricades near Delhi Gate.

The number swelled at around 5pm to about 15,000 as per police estimates and they started to break the cordon.

Police spokesperson MS Randhawa said security personnel first launched water cannons to disperse the crowd and then charged with batons as the agitators torched the private vehicle and started pelting stones.

Some people in the area, however, alleged the police response was disproportionate and indiscriminate, a charge denied by officials.

“Suddenly, some anti-social elements in the gathering started breaking the barricades and pelting stones in a bid to march towards Jantar Mantar against the police advice. Police used water cannon and absolutely minimum force to push them back,” Randhawa said.

Police and residents said that those involved in the violence were “outsiders”.

Fifty-eight additional companies of security personnel were brought in to bolster the strength of local police.