Citizenship protests: Hundreds detained; mobile, internet services suspended in Delhi


Opposition leaders including D Raja, Sitaram Yechury, Nilotpal Basu, Brinda Karat, Ajay Maken Sandeep Dikshit and activists Yogendra Yadav, Umar Khalid, were among those detained near the Red Fort and Mandi House -- the sites of the two planned demonstrations.

New Delhi: Hundreds of students, activists and opposition leaders were detained on Thursday when they defied prohibitory orders to protest against the new citizenship law as large parts of the national capital reeled under restrictions on mobile internet services and traffic movement.

Opposition leaders including D Raja, Sitaram Yechury, Nilotpal Basu, Brinda Karat, Ajay Maken Sandeep Dikshit and activists Yogendra Yadav, Umar Khalid, were among those detained near the Red Fort and Mandi House -- the sites of the two planned demonstrations.

Hundreds of flag-waving students and activists converged near the historic Jantar Mantar in the afternoon to voice their anger against the contentious law after police forcefully evicted protesters from areas around Red Fort and Mandi House. Permission for holding any demonstration in the two sites was not granted.

In the locality around the Red Fort, scores of protestors were dragged into buses by police in a bid to clear the area where Section 144 of the CrPC was imposed which restricts gathering of more than four people.

Entry and exit gates of at least 18 Delhi Metro stations were shut while barricades were erected in large part of South, East and North Delhi to check movement of protesters, triggering massive traffic snarls in large parts of the city.

Internet, voice and messaging services by Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio were suspended in parts of Delhi-NCR, in perhaps for the first time that the national capital experienced such restrictions.

Jyoti Saha, accompanied by her five year old twins at the Jantar Mantar protest, said:"So tomorrow, when they (police) make appeals to parents to not let their kids go to protest, they (kids) should know what they should do so."

Small demonstrations took place in several areas including Rajghat, Shantivan, Daryaganj and Jamia Nagar and Kashmiri Gate.

"How many people will your jails hold? As Gandhiji said, once people lose the fear of being detained, they are free. Then the oppressors have lost. That is what is happening with the CAA protests," tweeted activist Prashant Bhushan before he was detained.

After he was detained, Swaraj Abhiyan President Yogendra Yadav urged people to continue their peaceful protest but warned against committing "any mistake".

"One day we might be grateful to @narendramodi and @AmitShah for they brought the whole of India together through protests like today's. One day we shall feel proud that we registered our voice against this unconstitutional law," Yadav tweeted.

As the city witnessed massive protest over the citizenship aw, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the union government not to implement the new legislation.

"I appeal to the Centre with folded hands to not bring this legislation at this time. The need of the hour is to provide employed to the youth. We should all try to bring employment opportunities for our children and this law is not needed," he said on the sidelines of an event.

Scores of protestors at the Jantar Mantar offered roses to security personnel withe a message of "Love in return of hatred", saying police can lathicharge them as much as they want.

Some lawyers participating in the demonstration also offered legal assistance to protestors in case they are detained by the Delhi Police.

Several posters have been put up at the protest site against the amended Citizenship law. One of posters read --"Digital India with no internet, Janta mange rozi roti, milti hamko lathi gali, save constitution save country."

"They (police) can block the roads and close the metro stations. Let people walk through each street. Let each street be remembered in history for these protests," said Ramesh Ram, a law student.

Large parts of South, East, North and Central Delhi witnessed heavy traffic jams as major roads were barricaded to stop movement of protesters. According to a senior police official, at least 300 people were detained.

"I have just been detained from Lal Qila. About a thousand protesters already detained. Thousands on the way," Yadav tweeted.

The Delhi Police has urged protesters to go to the designated place for their protest. "We are requesting the protestors to please apply for the designated place for the protest. In the non-designated places, public face problems and many emergency services get affected.

"We urge people to not listen to any rumours. Section 144 has already been imposed in the area. Please cooperate with the Delhi Police," said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Mandeep Singh Randhawa said.

Two protests are scheduled in the national capital, one by students and activists and the other by left parties. The two marches are to meet at Shaheen Park near ITO.

PTI

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