More than 1,200 protestors were detained on Thursday morning for defying prohibitory orders near the Red Fort in Delhi during demonstrations against the amendments to the Citizenship Act, PTI reported. Police had imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure – which bans a gathering of more than four people – in the area.
Voice, internet and SMS services were blocked for four hours in some parts of the city, and entry and exit gates were shut at 20 metro stations through the day. The stations were gradually opened in the evening.
Demonstrations continued at Jantar Mantar in the afternoon after protestors were not allowed to hold the two planned protests. One was planned by students and activists near the Red Fort, and another by Left parties near Mandi House. Visuals outside the Red Fort showed heavy police deployment. Permissions for protests near the monument had already been denied.
Activists Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and Harsh Mander, Left leaders D Raja, Sitaram Yechury, Nilotpal Basu and Brinda Karat, and former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid were among those detained at different locations. Several students of Jamia Millia Islamia and activists also sat inside the Jamia Masjid complex in protest.
Following his detention at Red Fort, Yadav tweeted that he was being taken to Bawana police station. “About a thousand protesters already detained,” he tweeted. “It is an honour to be detained on 19th of December, a small tribute to Ashfakulla Khan and Ramprasad Bismil.” Yadav said former MP Dharamvir Gandhi has also been detained along with him.
Police station areas where prohibitory orders were imposed are Kashmere Gate, Kotwali, and Lahori Gate, unidentified officials said. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the Centre to not bring the amendments to the Citizenship Act and instead give employment to the youth, ANI reported.
Police urged people to not listen to rumours and to cooperate with authorities. “We are requesting the protestors to please apply for the designated place for the protest,” the Delhi Police tweeted. “In the non-designated places, public face problems and many emergency services get affected.”
At the Red Fort, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ajit K Singla told some protestors: “If you have a memo of demands, give it to me. We have implemented Section 144. If anti-social elements try to breach peace, you people won’t be able to control it.”
Communication services, metro and road traffic hit
The Delhi Police issued an order to block communication of all kinds – voice, SMS and internet – from 9 am to 1 pm in the walled city areas of north and central districts, Mandi House, Seelampur, Jaffrabad, Mustafabad, Jamia Nagar, Shaheen Bagh and Bawana, PTI reported. The order was issued to service providers Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.
Earlier in the morning, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation began announcing the closure of entry and exit gates at several metro stations. As many as 20 metro stations were not available for entry and exit for several hours during the day, but only two – Jamia Millia Islamia, Jasola Vihar Shaheen Bagh – were closed till the evening.
Traffic congestion was reported from several areas due to police barricades, including on the Delhi-Gurugram route, where vehicles were lined up for as long as 10 km, PTI reported. “Police have placed barricades and are checking vehicles coming from Gurgaon to Delhi due to which the traffic is affected on the stretch,” the Delhi Traffic Police tweeted.
Meanwhile, historian Ramachandra Guha was among some of the protestors detained in Bengaluru. “I have been detained for holding a photo of Mahatma Gandhi and speaking to the press,” he told NDTV. Another lone demonstrator was seen being taken away by the police in Bengaluru, Karnataka. He was carrying a poster outside Town Hall of the city.