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CAA protests bring Delhi to a halt

CAA protests bring Delhi to a halt

New Delhi: As the temperature plunged in the national Capital recording a minimum of 5.2 degrees Celsius on Thursday, marking the season's lowest, there was a lot of heat on the streets of Delhi as it witnessed unprecedented turnout of people from all walks of life, including prominent personalities, educationists, noted jurists, politicians from the Opposition camps and students, to protest against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

As thousands participated in heavy demonstrations, mobile Internet services were shut down in certain parts of the city besides the closure of 20 Metro stations at busiest locations since morning hours. One of the busiest stations, Rajiv Chowk, was also closed for two hours.

Over 1,200 were detained and were let off on the outskirts of the city. Though the law enforcement agencies claimed to minimise hassle as much as they could but traffic in many parts of Delhi-NCR was badly hit. The worst affected was Delhi-Gurugram carriageway where vehicles were lined up to a 16-km stretch. Nearly 40 flights were either cancelled or delayed due to the ongoing protests. For many commuters, the traffic jam was worse than a nightmare as cars were stuck bumper-to-bumper.

Earlier in the day, people started gathering at Mandi House and Red Fort in order to reach Shaheed Park near Khooni Darwaja. Agitators from both the places assembled at the park after a peaceful march but the majority of them were prevented from carrying out the demonstration and were taken into preventive custody. The police, which had barricaded the entire area, made an all-out effort to disperse the crowd claiming that no march can be allowed owing to the imposition of Section 144. The cops took no time to take many of the agitators inside the buses and took them to Surajmal Stadium in Bawana, Rajeev Gandhi Khel Parishar and North-West Delhi. "We were manhandled, forced to sit inside the bus and were taken at the sparse location. Snatching away of the right of peaceful protest is not acceptable for us. It appears that we are not living in a democratic country," said one of the detainees.

Prominent names among the detainees were D Raja, Sitaram Yechury, Nilotpal Basu, Brinda Karat, Ajay Maken's family, Sandeep Dikshit, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav. Besides, students from Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia, JNU and other institutions were also taken into custody by the police. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal raised serious concern over the ongoing crisis demanding immediate withdrawal of the controversial Act.

Yadav was detained from the Red Fort, where prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code were imposed. Left leaders including CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury, D Raja and Brinda Karat were also detained at the Mandi House area. Former Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit was also detained at Mandi House.

Other parts of the city also witnessed similar protests against the CAA as people in large numbers hit the roads. At Jantar Mantar, a huge gathering of the Left-leaning was witnessed staging a dharna against the Centre for passing an amendment full of discrepancies.

Jamia Millia Islamia, which has been the epicentre of the students' agitation since the law got the President's assent, witnessed peaceful protests. Areas like Seelampur, Chandni Chowk, Jantar Mantar, Okhla, Nand Nagri, Gokulpuri, Jafrabad also witnessed massive agitations.

"Internet was slowed down and entry/exit at Metro stations of vulnerable areas were closed for some time. We are also keeping a tab on fake messages and all suspicious activities in and around the city," said Mandeep Singh Randhawa, PRO, Delhi Police.

Anup Verma

Anup Verma

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