The Delhi Police used batons and water cannons on people protesting against the amended citizenship law in Old Delhi’s Daryaganj locality on Friday, hours after massive rallies at the city’s Jama Masjid led by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, video footage from the area showed.
Thirty-six injured protestors were admitted in the Lok Nayak Hospital, a hospital official confirmed. Some protestors with head injuries were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.
Eight minors were detained at the Daryaganj police station. However, they were later released. Police officials said 40 people had been detained in connection with the protests at Daryaganj. Lawyers were initially denied access to them.
Earlier in the evening, the protestors, who were carrying Indian flags and “Save the Constitution” banners, were marching from Jama Masjid to Jantar Mantar in Central Delhi, when they were stopped at Delhi Gate, NDTV reported. The Delhi Police put up barricades to stop the march. However, the crowd refused to back down and a car was set on fire outside Daryaganj police station as a confrontation became imminent. Policemen, who deployed anti-riot Vajra vehicles, then used water cannons and to disperse the crowd, and assaulted them with batons.
“I was walking with a massive crowd of protestors,” sociologist Sanjay Srivastava told Scroll.in. “Then 100 metres from the police station, people were being chased by the police, and lathicharged. People were streaming a video of a burning car near Delhi Gate. The police then mercilessly beat young men, and shoved them into buses. Minor stone pelting began once the police started chasing the protestors.”
Pinjra Tod, a collective of women activists, said it was feared that many people had serious injuries. “This is an urgent appeal for legal and medical help for the people injured and trapped there,” it tweeted. Children were among those injured, it added.
The latest clampdown came hours after the protest at Jama Masjid. Earlier in the day, Delhi Police detained Delhi Mahila Congress chief Sharmistha Mukherjee and other party workers while they were protesting near Home Minister Amit Shah’s residence.
On Thursday, thousands of people had taken to the streets of the capital to voice their opposition to the law that grants citizenship to people from six persecuted religious communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – except Muslims – provided they have lived in India for six years, and entered India on or before December 31, 2014.