Mosque area tense, many held for stoning cops
New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) The area close to an upcoming mosque at an excavated site near the Jama Masjid remained tense Sunday after a number of people were arrested over pelting of stones the night before on policemen posted there. No violence was reported.
The authorities Saturday afternoon stopped the construction work of the mosque on the Delhi High Court's order and handed over the site to archaeologists but late in the night a mob pelted stones and injured 10 policemen.
The police officials, monitoring the area, told IANS that the situation was volatile and "anything could happen", though there had been "no violent incidents so far today".
According to officials, the Saturday's incident left 10 policemen injured and a number of people were arrested.
"We have arrested a few people in this connection. An inspector and a head constable and eight constables were injured when the mob pelted stones at them," Additional Commissioner of Police Devesh Chandra Srivastva told IANS. He did not specify the number of those arrested.
The police post and the gates of the excavation site bore marks of stones that hit them Saturday, while a car lay smashed in a by-lane nearby. The protestors had also attacked some buses Saturday night.
Most of the shops in Daryaganj were closed Sunday, also the weekly market closing day for a section of traders.
"It is the anti-social elements who are behind such acts. The normal people always want to live in peace," claimed a shop owner who had opened his shop. He said he usually observed Friday as his weekly closing day.
The excavation site has been the epicentre of controversy ever since a building's remains were discovered early this month at the site excavated for Delhi Metro work.
Some people from the area claimed that the ruins were those of the 17th century mosque and started building a fresh structure at the site.
However, the Delhi high court had Friday ordered that the site be handed over to Archaeological Survey of India for investigation.
Late Saturday night, police, following court orders, removed people who had gathered at the site for offering prayers and the crowds pelted stones at them.
Policemen carrying teargas shells and contingents from Rapid Action Force along with several riot-control vehicles were in place Sunday to reinforce the security.
The mob had disappeared but small groups of people had gathered around the site while an occasional youngster would shout slogans while passing police pickets.
Several people could be seen trying to peep through the boundary of the excavation site while others climbed the gates and walls of the hospital across the road to have a better look of the controversial spot.
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