For the third weekend in a row, after the Citizenship Amendment Bill took centrestage, Delhi and surrounding areas in the national capital region remained on tenterhooks. However, the day ended on a relatively peaceful note with no violence reported from Delhi and adjoining districts in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
With a few anti-CAA protests scheduled and people expected to gather in large numbers for the traditional Friday afternoon prayers at mosques, the authorities were not taking any chances. A total of 29 companies comprising personnel from Delhi Police, Rapid Action Force and CRPF were deployed across Delhi in anticipation of trouble today.
Security forces were out on duty by 7 a.m. on Friday, with focus on spots that had witnessed violence or tension in the preceding two weeks. Areas that had police deployment in strength included Jama Masjid, Fatehpuri Masjid, Masjid Moth and Hauz Khas.
Until noon, an air of tension hung over areas such as Seelampur, Jaffrabad, Jamia Nagar and Zakir Nagar that had witnessed violence last week but after the Friday afternoon prayers, people dispersed peacefully.
Police forces were stationed in large numbers at Jor Bagh, from where a procession was to move towards the Prime Minister's residence to protest Bheem Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad's arrest during the anti-CAA protests last week. However, the protestors who numbered around a 150, dispersed peacefully after marching for a short distance.
The UP Bhavan here was also the venue for an anti-CAA protests as students from various universities tried to gather there, but the police foiled their attempts. The students, who arrived in singles and pairs, were promptly detained by the police and bundled away from the spot in vehicles stationed nearby.
The Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Nagar areas which had witnessed unprecedented tension and violence earlier, were a picture of peaceful protest on Friday. The Jamia Millia Islamia students offered prayers at the mosque within the campus while in Shaheen Bagh, the protestors offered prayers at the earlier protest spot.
Friday's peaceful demonstrations brought some relief to Delhi residents who have been on tenterhooks ever since violence erupted over the CAA. Tension has been simmering over the weekends since the past three weeks.
The controversial Citizenship Amendment Act provides for granting citizenship to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and has evoked widespread protests, especially in Delhi.