'Are we in world’s largest democracy?: Daryaganj locals blame 'outsiders' for violence during anti-CAA stir, accuse cops of violating right to protest peacefully

  • Fifteen people who were arrested in connection with the violence in Daryaganj in Old Delhi have been remanded to judicial custody

  • Meanwhile, normalcy is returning for the Daryaganj residents, who bore witness to large-protests against the Act on Friday afternoon

  • People in the crowded lanes and by-lanes claimed that their right to protest peacefully was violated by Delhi Police

Fifteen people who were arrested in connection with the violence in Daryaganj in Old Delhi during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act have been remanded to judicial custody for two days. Their bail pleas will be heard at 12 pm Monday.

This, even as lawyers claimed that several more were detained at Daryaganj, Paharganj, Seemapuri and Tis Hazari police stations but the police has refused to share how many people were detained. Ali Zia Kabir Choudhary, a lawyer, said that the police has neither shared the list of those arrested, nor have they shared the copies of FIRs. Despite repeated attempts by Firstpost, the Delhi Police declined to comment, saying only that their public statement is out in the media.

 Are we in world’s largest democracy?: Daryaganj locals blame outsiders for violence during anti-CAA stir, accuse cops of violating right to protest peacefully

Police personnel walks past a charred vehicle allegedly torched by protesters during a rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), in New Delhi. PTI

Choudhary suspects some of the protesters are  badly injured, which is why the police have not shared the details. “We have filed an application with the magistrate who has asked the police to share copies of the FIRs and has even summoned the Station House Officer,” he added. Choudhary further claimed one minor was released by the police around 2 am but he was too scared to speak or even file a complaint.

Meanwhile, normalcy is returning for the Daryaganj residents, who bore witness to large-protests against the Act on Friday afternoon. People in the crowded lanes and by-lanes of this part of the National Capital  claimed that their right to protest peacefully was violated by Delhi Police. They allege the police used water cannons and lathi-charged the crowd. Naeem Khan, who runs a tea shop near Jama Masjid, said, “Everyone was protesting peacefully throughout the day. Not a single scuffle was reported from Jama Masjid.”

According to him, even at Daryaganj, to where protesters had marched from Jamia Masjid, people were protesting peacefully and following police instructions to maintain calm. However, he claimed that around 6 pm on Friday, someone hurled stones at the police after which police led a brutal clampdown, injuring dozens, and arrested 15. A car was also set ablaze.

Eyewitnesses said that more than 20 were injured and taken Sabharwal Hospital and Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital and that some even had fractures. ANI quoted LNJP Medical Superintendent Kishore Singh as saying 36 injured protesters were brought to the hospital for treatment. Seven policemen were also brought to the hospital.

“How can someone set a car on fire right outside the DCP office? Where were the policemen?” Khan wondered.

Several others in the neighbourhood raised similar concerns and accused 'outsiders' of creating trouble. At the Jamia Masjid, demonstrators raised slogans against the Act, sang songs about peace and harmony and even managed traffic. Similarly at Daryaganj, the protesters followed police orders and maintained calm.

On Friday, before the prayers, the police erected barriers at all gates except Gate 1 of Jama Masjid. People were being asked to show their identity proof to be allowed to go through, which irked many locals. Some had long arguments with the police on why they should show their identity proofs to access their place of worship.

Even metro gates leading to the mosque were shut. The prayers went smoothly and thereafter a large crowd gathered at the stairs of the historic monument and began raising slogans. Soon, the crowd swelled into the thousands and the street leading to the mosque was swarmed with people.

Amidst sloganeering, thousands began applauding after Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who called this protest, emerged on the stairs with a copy of the Constitution in one hand and BR Ambedkar’s poster in the other. He soon began reading from the Constitution. As Azad continued to read from the Constitution, police waited for him to exit the mosque. Finally, after an hour of jostling, Azad emerged and a police officer put his arms around his neck to restrain him. However, after his supporters got into a scuffle with the police, Azad managed to free himself and fled the spot.

Protesters continued to raise slogans, sang patriotic songs like 'saare jahan se acha' and were critical of not just Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, but also of the media which they claimed was working for the government. Protesters began walking towards Jantar Mantar peacefully only to find that all roads leading to Jama Masjid were barricaded.

With a heavy police presence clad in rot gear waiting, the protesters halted and began shouting slogans, waving Indian flags and placards. The situation looked peaceful and under control.

“Don’t we have the right to protest peacefully? CAA will create an existential crisis for Muslims of this country and if we don’t raise our voice, we all might end up in detention centers,” claimed Mohammad Rizwan of Daryaganj.

Seeking release of the detained, a large group gathered outside police headquarters in Delhi. The protesters then attempted to march from ITO to Delhi Gate but were not allowed to do so. “Are we living in the world’s biggest democracy? It doesn’t seem so. I am out for the protest for the first time but it was worth it because we should not let draconian laws change the secular fabric of this country,” said businessman Abdallah Bin Ali.

Meanwhile, more protests are expected across Delhi and Choudhary fears there could be more attacks and detentions and that he is ready to take the police head on and secure bail for those detained.

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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2019 19:54:03 IST