New Delhi: A large number of people on Friday offered prayers at the site of a religious structure demolished by authorities in south Delhi after the government
stepped in to defuse tension over the issue.
Around 1,000 people led by Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, entered the site in Jangpura B-Block this afternoon and offered prayers amid heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces.
Some people were also earlier allowed to offer prayers at the site in the morning during which they allegedly demolished a wall adjoining the site.
The structure, built "illegally" on DDA land, was demolished by the housing body on early morning Wednesday acting on a Delhi High Court order and people were not allowed to enter the premises, leading to tension in the locality. Police had to use batons to disperse protestors who wanted to offer prayers at the site that day.
However, the government decided to allow people to offer prayers at the site after Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit talked to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Union Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy.
In the morning, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit met Bukhari at the Jama Masjid and conveyed to him the message of Chidambaram and Reddy that prayers will be allowed at the site of the structure.
"Chidambaram and Reddy have stepped in. Now they are saying they will allow prayers at the site. Dikshit told us that the government will buy the land and give it to the Wakf Board to rebuild a mosque," Bukhari said at a gathering at Jama Masjid before leaving for the site to lead the prayers.
Attacking Congress, he said, "This is a conspiracy by the Congress. It is not an issue between Hindus and Muslims. Our fight is against government and Congress. We will fight this injustice against Muslims," he said.
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav described the demolition as a "very sad" incident. "I will fight along with Muslims for justice. The Ranganath Misra Committee said this community is the most poor and deprived and Congress
government is attacking them," he told the gathering.
Earlier in the day, some 1,000 people offered prayers in front of a police station claiming that police were not permitting entry of more than 100 people at the site.
As Bukhari left for the site of demolition, a large number of people started marching towards Jangpura but were prevented by police from moving forward. This led to
sloganeering in the area and a DTC bus was damaged.
However, the situation was brought under control soon and the traffic was thrown open.
Earlier in the afternoon, a community leader in Nizamuddin had said, "police decided to allow only 100 people having identity cards at the site so we offered prayers in front of the police station."
When asked if they restricted entry to the site, a senior police official had said, "We are not stopping them but are taking maximum precaution to prevent any untoward incident."
There was heavy deployment of forces in Nizamuddin and Jama Masjid area. Paramilitary troops, including Rapid Action Force personnel and policemen, were present in large numbers and entry of heavy vehicles was restricted on Mathura Road stretch from Bhogal to Nizamuddin crossing.
Vehicular movement was affected in Nizamuddin and Jangpura as well as Daryaganj due to protests.