Mosque area tense, two held for stoning cops


New Delhi: The area close to an upcoming mosque at an excavated site near the Jama Masjid remained tense Sunday even as two people were arrested and several detained over pelting of stones the night before on policemen posted there. No violence was reported.

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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.

“An inspector, a head constable and eight constables were injured when the mob pelted stones at them,” Additional Commissioner of Police Devesh Chandra Srivastva told IANS.

Srivastva added that Navin, 21, a local resident of the area, and Irfak of east Delhi’s Seelampur area, had been arrested.

Many others were detained for questioning, police sources said.

Police officials told IANS that the situation continued to be volatile and “anything could happen”, though there had been “no violent incidents so far today”.

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.

Some shopkeepers who normally open their establishments in Daryaganj on Sundays preferred to keep their shutters down.

“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.

Policemen carrying teargas shells and contingents from Rapid Action Force along with several riot-control vehicles were in place Sunday to reinforce the security after Saturday’s incident.

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.

The excavation site has been the epicentre of controversy ever since a building’s remains were discovered early this month at the site for Delhi Metro work.

Some people from the area claimed that the ruins were those of the 17th century Mughal-era Akbarabadi Mosque. However, the Delhi high court Friday ordered that the site be handed over to Archaeological Survey of India for investigation.