Seventeen security personnel and around 50 locals were reportedly injured in a clash in Jor Bagh,South Delhi,when thousands gathered outside Karbala mosque for Chehlum,an annual event that takes place 10 days after Muharram.
The people gathered for the ceremony alleged that one of the gates of the mosque was barricaded by the police leading to the agitation. As people tried to open the locked gate,police allegedly used force to stop them.
According to those in the crowd,police resorted to lathicharge and lobbed teargas shells inside the mosque. They also claimed that police action was not due to any violence by the crowd.
The incidents was reported around 6 pm on Sunday.
This is the barbaric attitude of the police towards us. They threw teargas shells inside the mosque and also fired two shots in the air. It could have led to a stampede because everybody was scared and started running. Many people got injured in the lathicharge. Women and children could not see because of the teargas. We did not pelt stones or hit them,it was the police who started to beat our boys with lathis. It could have resulted in a big tragedy, said Dr Shamshul Hassan,an eyewitness.
Participants also claimed that many persons,including a few children,were taken to the hospital due to injuries.
Police,however,denied use of force. They said the crowd tried to force open the gate,which has remained locked for years. As policemen tried to stop them,participants pelted them with stones from inside the mosque,resulting in injuries to police personnel.
Police also denied the use of teargas shells.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Southern range) Amulya Patnaik said,The locals are exaggerating the issue. They started pelting stones from inside,and to control the situation the police had to fire in the air. Many vehicles were damaged. Four CRPF jawans,10 Delhi Police officials,including an ACP and two inspectors,received head injuries. There was no lathicharge by the police.
The participants have demanded the suspension of the ACP and the SHO of the area,alleging that they are biased towards the minority population and they deliberately initiated violence. Deputy Commissioner of Police (South),Additional Commissioner of Police and other officers who were present on the spot said they were looking into the matter and will accordingly register a case.
The religious structure is located on a disputed land and a case is pending in the Delhi High Court. Police said they wanted to avoid a violent situation,due to which they had barricaded the disputed gate.