Bhopal: A protest march attended by thousands against the amended Citizenship Act and proposed implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) took a violent turn in Jabalpur, following which police clamped curfew in the area.
The mob pelted stones at policemen and media personnel and damaged public property. Some of the injured police officers had to be taken to the hospital.
Despite prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) being in place in the district, thousands took to streets on Friday afternoon to protest against the new law. Curfew was imposed in four police station areas — Adhartal, Hanumantal, Gohalpur and Kotwali — later in the evening as the demonstrations turned violent.
Police said incidents of stone pelting took place soon after Friday prayers got over and locals disbanded into small groups and disappeared in small lanes and tried to lead processions.
When the groups were stopped from going ahead with their rallies through barricades, the protesters started hurling stones on police personnel in various areas, including Razzaq Chowk, Bahorabag, Raddi Chowki, Gohalpur and Char Khambha.
Reporters and camera crew were also targeted and the protesters warned them against the covering the unrest. Several mediapersons were hit by stones. The mob comprised children and teenagers.
“Besides elders, kids and teenagers between 7 to 15 years who might be having no idea of CAA and NRC and CAA, pelted stones on policemen and damaged their vehicles, but our armed force practised restraint,” said Jabalpur Superintendent of Police Amit Singh.
He said presence of masked children in the crowd was a clear indication that they were instigated by certain elements, adding police lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the mob. As the priority is to bring things under control, curfew has been imposed in four police station areas, he added.
Internet services were suspended in Jabalpur town, while the same was done for a few hours in Bhopal, a senior officer from the police headquarters said. Sources claimed the Gohalpur area in Jabalpur witnessed violence even after curfew was clamped in the region.
Tension had gripped the old city areas after thousands gathered in cramped lanes and bylanes of Moti Masjid area after Friday prayers. A religious gathering was also organised at the same time in the area in Tarjuma mosque to discuss the issue of CAA and NRC.
However, a strong police presence and an effective barricading ensured that the protest passed off peacefully and no untoward incident was reported from the area.
Till Friday, prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been issued in 50 of the 52 districts, and processions, gatherings and rallies have been banned by the administration till further orders.
Peaceful protests were also staged in other districts, including Datia, Mandsaur and Shivpuri during the day.