The government on Friday stepped in to defuse the crisis over demolition of a mosque in south Delhi, assuring locals that prayers will be allowed at the spot even as protestors took out a march from old city toward the site.
Amid heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces in the Jangpura-Nizamuddin area, 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.
Meanwhile, some 3,000 people took out a march from Jama Masjid towards Jangpura where the mosque, built "illegally" on DDA land, was demolished by it acting on a court order.
Religious leaders, including Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari, left from the walled city mosque in a vehicles while locals, who were initially blocked by police, were later allowed to march. Some protestors damaged window-panes of a DTC bus in the area, police said.
In the morning, chief minister Sheila Dikshit met Bukhari and conveyed to him the message of union home minister P Chidambaram and Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy that prayers will be allowed at the site of the mosque, a top official of Delhi government told PTI.
When asked if they were restricting entry to the site, a senior police official said, "We are not stopping them but are taking maximum precaution to prevent any untoward incident."
A community leader in Nizamuddin said, "Police decided to allow only 100 people having identity cards at the site so we decided to offer prayers in front of the police station."
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.
"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 claimed.
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 said.
DDA had demolished the mosque on January 12, leading to violence and tension in the area. Police had to use batons to disperse protestors who wanted to offer prayers at the site that day.