Protest hits traffic, Metro

Last Updated 03 April 2014, 20:30 IST

Hundreds of Sikh protesters from Widow Colony in west Delhi on Thursday staged demonstrations outside Tilak Nagar police station after police evicted people from an illegally occupied building in a post-midnight action.

The protests led to three Metro stations being shut to the public.
Led by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, the demonstrators alleged that police had disrupted an akhand path (continuous recitation) of the Guru Granth Sahib and had forcibly taken away the holy book to police station.

Police denied disrespecting the book and claimed that the path was being “continued with utmost care” at the police station.

The over five-hour-long protest was called off after police agreed to the protesters' demand to allow fresh start to the akhand path at the same venue. Police said the decision to have the building evicted again would be taken after the prayers ends on Sunday.

About a dozen persons, including some juveniles, were held by police for the illegal occupancy. Children were let off early on Thursday while others were allowed to go in the afternoon.

The protesters blocked traffic on the Najafgarh Road for the entire duration of the protest. Three Metro stations in the area too were shut down after some youths tried to forcibly enter Subhash Nagar station. Police had to use mild lathicharge to keep them away from disrupting Metro services.

While Tagore Garden station opened within half-an-hour , services at Tilak Nagar and Subhash Nagar stations resumed after protests were called off at about 6 pm.

Several political leaders, including those from the Bharatiya Janata Party, Aam Aadmi Party and Shiromani Akali Dal, either sat with the protesters or visited the disputed site.
Police had earlier visited the disputed site on Wednesday and asked people there to vacate the premises owned by the Department of Social Welfare of Delhi government.

However, Manjeet Singh, presidentof DSGMC, told Deccan Herald that they wanted the premises on lease and that he had spoken to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) and asked for two days' time.

“I asked DCP Ranvir Singh to give us two days' time to request the Lieutenant Governor for the property lease and to complete the akhand path. But despite an assurance, police got in vacated it at midnight itself,” he said.

Protests first began at Widow Colony on Thursday afternoon and soon shifted to the Najafgarh Road outside Tilak Nagar police station. Tpeopple sat on the road and even began a “langar” there.

Apart from Delhi Police, the Rapid Action Force too was deployed. Commuters bore the brunt as even women who ventured into the protest site were harassed by some youths among the demonstrators.

In one such incident, when a woman stood up to the youths who were hitting her car, they diverted their anger towards police, shouting slogans.
They then marched towards Subhash Nagar police station which led to the lathicharge.

(Published 03 April 2014, 20:30 IST)

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