NEW DELHI: The capital witnessed another wave of protests against the newly amended Citizenship Act, the biggest of which began at the Jama Masjid on Friday afternoon.
There was high drama as Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad who led the protest at the mosque escaped after being detained by police.
Azad had earlier announced the protest march against the Citizenship Act from Jama Masjid to Jantar Mantar. However, the police had denied permission for the demonstration.
To prevent him from reaching Jama Masjid, the police was trying to contact Azad since morning but his phone was switched off.
Later, soon after the afternoon prayers, Azad emerged with his supporters at the stairs of the mosque. Holding up a copy of the constitution and a photo of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, he was shouting slogans and waving flags.
He was detained soon after the prayers but managed to dodge the police. His associate and senior lawyer Mehmood Pracha was present at the mosque with him.
Mohammad Asim, a resident of the walled city, said Azad, taking advantage of the large number of protesters, had disappeared in the narrow lanes of the area.
Later, residents of the area and Azad supporters sat on a dharna outside the gate number one of Jama Masjid.
Hundreds of agitators are still at the site and raising slogans against the contentious act.
However, the police are making efforts to convince them to leave the place.
Drones also kept a vigil on the large gathering which raised slogans like 'Inquilab Zindabad' and sang 'Saare Jahan Se Accha'.
The police have made heavy security arrangements in the area and lanes have been barricaded to prevent people from moving further.
In view of the protests, the entrances and exits at three nearby Metro stations -- Jama Masjid, Chawri Bazaar, and Red Fort -- were sealed by police anticipating that more people may turn up at Jama Masjid.
Elderly and eminent residents of the area are constantly making appeals to people to stay calm and maintain peace.
Earlier, in an embarrassment to the security agencies, Sharmishta Mukherjee, president of the Delhi Congress Mahila Morcha (women wing), protested outside the residence of Union home minister Amit Shah against the CAA.
She was detained with women party workers and taken to the Mandir Marg police station.
"Around 50 other women members of the Delhi Mahila Congress were also detained with me," she said.
Protests are also continuing outside the Jamia Millia Islamia on Friday with day-long demonstrations and cultural programmes planned.
Since it’s a Friday, the crowd was on the thinner side in the morning, with protesters expected to assemble in more numbers after Friday prayers.
“Protests are going on but there are fewer numbers right now since there is namaaz today. We are expecting people to pour in after the namaz,” said a student, Aijaz.
Ehtemam Khan of the Dayar-i-Shouq Student’s Charter said that they are expecting over 3000 people after the prayers.
“The cultural front will be singing revolutionary songs while we also have young poets to recite poetry,” he added.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation had shut down the entry and exit gates of Jamia Millia Islamia and Jasola Vihar in Shaheen Bagh in the morning but later opened them up again.
(With ENS and Agencies inputs)