12:09 GMT26 January 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Police in New Delhi have arrested the leader of a group of “untouchables” or Dalits who were protesting a controversial citizenship law outside the historic Jama Masjid Mosque.

    An anti-Citizenship Law protest march by Bhim Army leader Chandrasekhar Azad planned to go from Jama Masjid Mosque to Jantar Mantar in the centre of New Delhi, close to Indian Parliament.

    But since he had no permission for the march, Delhi Police stopped Azad and his supporters outside the mosque and later arrested him.

    But the police failed to produce any concrete evidence against Azad during a bail hearing at a Delhi court, on Tuesday.

    Annoyed by the insistence of the public prosecutor representing the Delhi Police to deny bail to Azad, the judge asked him if the mosque was in Pakistan.

    “You are behaving as if Jama Masjid is Pakistan. Even if it was Pakistan, you can go there and protest. Pakistan was a part of undivided India,” the judge shot back.

    Azad was charged with protesting without permission and igniting violence but the court slammed the police for its failure to produce any evidence against him.

    “Do you think Delhi Police is so backward that it has no devices to record anything?” Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said while blasting the police authorities after they revealed that they have only drone images of the gathering as evidence and no other recording.

    Azad and his supporters were protesting against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 enacted by the federal government in early December. The law seeks to provide citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis and Buddhists, excluding Muslims from three neighbouring Islamic countries, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

    Large number of supporters of Azad later marched towards Jantar Mantar, but the police stopped them while some unidentified protesters set a few vehicles on fire and clashed with police.

    The lawyer for Azad argued that there was no evidence to prove the allegations levelled against him and said his arrest was illegal.

    The police initially arrested a further 15 people, but the court already granted them bail on 9 January.

     

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