Prominent Shia cleric Kalbe Jawad and several thousand of his supporters, who have kept the 18th century monument Bada Imambara locked for 11 days, courted arrest near the Chhota Imambara here on Monday evening.
Minutes after courting arrest, the cleric, who is seeking removal of Syed Wasim Rizvi from the chairmanship of Shia Central Waqf Board (SCWB), announced that gates of the Bada Imambara and Chhota Imambara would continue to remain locked.
After their arrest, Jawad and the others were taken to the Police Lines where the cleric insisted that he wanted to go to jail. The cleric and his supporters were released late in the evening, said district magistrate Raj Shekhar.
Jawad was supposed to court arrest on Sunday. But the arrest was delayed for a day due to shortage of buses to carry the protesters. Several women and children also joined the protest on the cleric's call.
The cleric claimed that several tourists who visited the Bada Imambara were found drinking in the past. Despite being a popular tourist spot, the Imambara was also a religious place where Muslims offered prayers, he said. The gates of the two Imambaras would be thrown open only if the authorities concerned stopped the drunken tourists from entering these places, he added.
Earlier, while addressing the protesters, Jawad hit out at senior UP minister Azam Khan and Rizvi. He said that the government should not think that the agitation had come to an end with his arrest. The protest would continue till his demands were met, he added.
Considering the sensitivity of the matter, the district administration had made elaborate arrangements. The stretch between Tile Wali Masjid and Bada Imambara to Chhota Imambara was completely blocked. The protest led to a major traffic chaos in Chowk and adjoining areas. Traffic was diverted from Kudiya Ghat.