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Bhim Army chief taken into police custody

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Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad

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New Delhi:  Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad was detained by police outside the Jama Masjid early Saturday, after he played hide and seek with security personnel for several hours.

On Friday evening, after security personnel tried to detain him during a march led by his Bhim Army against the new citizenship law from Jama Masjid to Jantar Mantar, Azad surfaced inside the mosque. He had given the Delhi Police a slip to reach the mosque.

"We have to make sacrifices so that the legislation is taken back. We do not support violence. We were sitting inside the mosque since Friday morning and our people were not involved in violence," he said.

A large number of police personnel had stayed put near the mosque, waiting for Azad to come outside as a large number of people gathered there.

Senior police officers were persuading him to come outside the mosque since last evening. The drama continued for several hours and Azad finally agreed around 3.15am on Saturday.

Azad, whose name means free or independent, said his group was not involved in the violence near Delhi Gate. "Policemen dressed as civilians are instigating violence in a bid to scuttle the protests," he alleged.

Asked how he breached the tight security ring outside the Jama Masjid, he told PTI that he sneaked into Jama Masjid around 1:30 pm on Friday, wearing a skull cap and wrapping himself in a long shawl. "My name is Chandra Shekhar Azad. Police cannot hold me captive. I wore a cap and a shawl and entered the masjid easily." The protesters marching towards Jantar Mantar from Jama Masjid were stopped by police and paramilitary personnel near Delhi Gate. The protest turned violent on Friday evening with demonstrators setting a car on fire and damaging a few vehicles and police resorting to lathi-charge and use of water cannon.

The protest will continue till Home Minister Amit Shah resigns, he said, adding he will soon address the protesters at Jamia Millia Islamia.

Azad said he had urged his supporters to carry on the protest peacefully.

"Those who are indulging in violence are not our people. Our peaceful protest continues at the historic Jama Masjid. Ambedkarites do not indulge in violence.

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