As many as 150 cadre, including 25 women, of the Social Democratic Party of India staged a demonstration on Sunday in front of the head post office, demanding the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to open the centuries-old mosque inside the Vellore Fort for worship.
The protestors were arrested by the police for not seeking its permission for the stir.
The demonstration was led by State treasurer of the party Asnad Ahmed. The protestors raised slogans demanding the ASI to open the structure for worship for the Islam community. The demonstration that was staged at around 3 pm created tense moments in the area for a while, said the police.
The mosque had been under the control of the ASI since 1921. It was protected under the Ancient Monuments Preservation and Maintenance Act, 1994. The mosque had not been used for worshipping for nearly two centuries, the ASI officials said and added that the department had been maintaining the status quo of the structure as it was not being used as a place for worshipping when the ASI had taken it under its custody.
The ASI wanted to maintain the status quo.
The police arrested the protestors and kept them in a marriage hall. They were released later in the day.
In the meantime, the district police stepped up the security in and around the structure, which was the bone of contention for nearly a decade now. The department also deployed around 50 policemen in the vicinity, to prevent any attempt of forced entry into the restricted area.