Over 500 policemen stood guard near Jama Masjid on Friday, near where thousands of Muslims defied a ban on offering prayers at the Subhash Park where ruins of a Mughal-era mosque had been found.
People had started gathering at the site since morning and the crowd swelled as the time for afternoon prayers neared. The police had diverted the traffic towards Ring Road and the road from Darya Ganj to Red Fort remained out of bounds for traffic for over three hours.Several teams of policemen started patrolling the area since morning, as the police were not aware of the plan of the local residents. As soon as the Friday prayers at Jama Masjid ended, the local residents started rushing to the site where ruins of a Mughal-era structure, which many believe is Akbarabadi Mosque, was found. Several people had been facilitating their movement by telling them the way to "new mosque".
The namaz started soon after 1:30 pm and ended at 2:15 pm with leaders asking public to remain calm and not to shout slogans. "Appropriate number of staff was present to prevent any untoward incident. Staff of other districts was also called to be present at the site. We were not stopping anyone from entering the site," said a senior police officer, requesting anonymity.
A few metres away from there, members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) staged a protest near Red fort. Around 500 VHP workers had gathered outside the Gauri Shankar temple but were detained and taken to Maurice Nagar police station. They had planned to recite the Hanuman Chalisa and walk up to the site where construction of a new moque is on. Some of those who tried to break the police cordon were overpowered.
After the Delhi High Court directed the police to give full assistance to the north civic body by deploying sufficient police force, a Delhi Police spokesperson said that the orders of court have been received and Delhi Police will ensure that the directions are followed.