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Delhi: 23 picked up day after communal flare-up in Jahangirpuri; many have criminal record, say police

Police said initial investigation has revealed that one of the accused, who works at a mobile phone repair shop, is the main conspirator and allegedly has a criminal record.

Written by Mahender Singh Manral | New Delhi |
Updated: April 18, 2022 6:49:22 pm
A day after the violence, which left 10-12 people injured, including seven police personnel, tension was palpable in the area.

A day after communal clashes broke out in Northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri following a shobha yatra organised to mark Hanuman Jayanti, the Delhi Police on Sunday arrested 20 persons and apprehended three minors on charges of rioting and unlawful assembly.

Police said initial investigation has revealed that one of the accused, who works at a mobile phone repair shop, is the main conspirator and allegedly has a criminal record.

DCP (Northwest district) Usha Rangnani said, “During investigation, one of the conspirators, Mohd Ansar (35), a resident of B Block in Jahangirpuri, has been arrested. He was found to be previously involved in two cases of assault. He was also arrested repeatedly under preventive sections and booked five times under the Gambling Act and Arms Act. Further investigation is on.”

“We have recovered three firearms and five swords from the possession of those arrested,” she added.

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According to senior officers, at least eight of those arrested have a criminal record, with some being arrested in the past on charges ranging from rioting to attempt to murder.

The FIR, registered at Jahangirpuri police station based on a complaint filed by inspector Rajiv Ranjan Singh, states: “It was a peaceful shobha yatra procession to mark Hanuman Jayanti, but around 6 pm, when they reached a mosque in C-block, a man, identified as Md Ansar, along with four-five associates came and started arguing with the people involved in the yatra. The argument escalated and stone-pelting started from both sides, and a stampede ensued.”

Inspector Ranjan further states in the FIR that following the argument, he requested those involved to make peace and they had dispersed. “… But within minutes, both sides again started pelting stones and raising slogans. I informed the control room and additional forces rushed to the spot. Senior officers asked them to be peaceful, but one side was constantly doing stone-pelting and we fired 40-50 tear shells to disperse the crowd. We controlled the crowd but, in the meantime, they also attacked police personnel. Sub-inspector Meda Lal received a gunshot injury, and six-seven policemen and a local were also injured.”

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The DCP said they have arrested the man who allegedly fired at the sub-inspector. “A pistol was recovered from his possession,” an officer said.

Speaking to The Indian Express on Sunday, Meda Lal said “eight to 10 rounds” had been fired. “If police had not placed themselves in between (the two sides), a lot more people would have been injured,” he said.

Apart from Ansar, the DCP identified the arrested men as Zahid (20), Shahjad (33), Mukhtyaar Ali (28), Mohd Ali (18), Amir (19), Aksar (26), Noor Alam (28), Zakir (22), Md Akram (22), Md Imtiyaz (29), Mohd Ali (27), Ahid Khan (35), Salim (36) Sheikh Saurabh (42), Suraj (21), Neeraj (19), Suken (45), Suresh (43), Sujeet Sarkar (38).

The accused include scrap dealers, fish sellers and employees of shops that repair mobile phones and fans. On Sunday, the families of the men insisted they had been picked up in police raids despite not being involved in the violence.

Special CP (Law and Order) Dependra Pathak, however, dismissed claims that arrests had been made arbitrarily. “We made these arrests after ascertaining facts… like CCTV footage and human intelligence. We investigated this in a fair and professional manner and have taken action accordingly.”

A day after the violence, which left 10-12 people injured, including seven police personnel, tension was palpable in the area.

An aman (peace) committee organised by authorities during the day came to an abrupt halt as a BJP councillor blamed “illegal immigrants” for the violence, leading to flared tempers. Tensions also mounted outside Jahangirpuri police station on Sunday afternoon as BJP workers and women from families of those arrested for Saturday’s violence raised slogans against each other.

During the day, the BJP MP from the constituency, Hans Raj Hans, as well as the party’s Delhi unit chief, Adesh Gupta, visited the area.

In a statement on Saturday, the Aam Aadmi Party blamed the BJP for the violence, saying, “Seeing how the recent events have panned out, it is clear that the BJP itself is behind the violence. Adesh Gupta himself honoured and felicitated eight goons who were arrested for vandalism and hooliganism. When you yourself honour such goons, you send a message to the masses that you are on the side of violence. The AAP also celebrated the Hanuman Janamotsav wholeheartedly through its shobha yatra… as well as Delhi government’s Sundarkand in Gole Market area later in the day. Why is it that such violence doesn’t take place in AAP’s events and only happens when BJP organises it? It is clear that the BJP is a party of goons and thugs who only care about creating violence and causing riots.”

The VHP, meanwhile, maintained there had been no provocation from those participating in the yatra. Its state wing president Kapil Khanna said, “The yatra was organised by VHP’s youth wing Bajrang Dal. By the time it reached the C-block chowk, there was stone pelting. There was no provocation from our side. It was a peaceful procession.”

Senior officers said the probe will expand over the coming days. They claimed to have recovered over 100 video clips from Saturday and identified around 50 “miscreants” so far. Officers said they are verifying several claims – including a purported video showing members of the yatra wielding guns and whether there had been an attempt to plant saffron flags at the mosque. Officers also said they are relying on facial recognition software to identify those involved in the violence.

The FIR, police said, has been lodged under IPC sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 307 (attempt to murder), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 323 (causing hurt), 436 (mischief by fire), 34 (common intention) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) and Section 27 of the Arms Act.


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