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Monday, September 27, 2021

‘My helmet broke, shield was torn’: Six cops who faced mob during Northeast Delhi riots get Police Medal for Gallantry on Independence day

Superintendent of Daman Police Amit Sharma, who was posted as Deputy CP in Shahdara district at the time of the February 2020 riots, was attacked by a mob when he went to Northeast Delhi to control the violence.

Written by Jignasa Sinha | New Delhi |
Updated: August 15, 2021 8:25:17 am
Kumar, Lal (posthumously) and constables Praveen, Mohit and Naveen will also receive the medal alongside Sharma. All six were present on the Wazirabad road and were severely injured in the mob attack. (Representational)

Superintendent of Daman Police Amit Sharma will be one of the six officers receiving the Police Medal for Gallantry (PMG) for their services during the Northeast Delhi riots. Sharma, who was posted as Deputy CP in Shahdara district at the time of the February 2020 riots, was attacked by a mob when he went to Northeast Delhi to control the violence.

A year later, he still remembers February 24, the day he was asked to look into the security situation in another district because then US President Donald Trump was coming to Delhi.

“I left my office around 7 am for a police briefing, thinking we will perform security duty in Northeast Delhi where anti-CAA protests were held. We were hardly 40 men… violence spiralled in narrow streets as mobs started pelting stones and attacking locals with sharp weapons. There were many women protesters who approached us for help. We tried to help them, but protesters turned hostile and everyone was pelting stones at us,” recalled Sharma.

At the Yamuna Vihar intersection, Sharma was with his operator, constable Naveen, when a group of men started pelting stones at them. He said his team was trying to “save children” and other locals from the mob, but soon they found themselves the target. A mob armed with swords, rods, hammers and other sharp weapons started closing in on Sharma.

“I was surrounded… I couldn’t see what was happening but my helmet broke and my shield was torn. I fell unconscious, my subordinates helped me and pulled me back,” said Sharma.

As the mob attacked other policemen as well, Sharma was rushed to a police van. The journey wasn’t safe either – the vehicle was again targeted by a mob and officers had to rescue Sharma, Superintendent of Diu Anuj Kumar (earlier posted as ACP in Delhi) and head constable Ratan Lal from Chand Bagh.

While Lal died at the hospital, Kumar and Sharma sustained serious injuries – the latter’s skull bone had cracked. “To date, I have severe headaches because of the attack… It’s unbearable. I feel we tried doing our duty even when the mob was overpowering us. We wanted women and children to be safe but everyone started attacking us,” said Sharma.

Kumar, Lal (posthumously) and constables Praveen, Mohit and Naveen will also receive the medal alongside Sharma. All six were present on the Wazirabad road and were severely injured in the mob attack.

Kumar, who sustained severe injuries to his neck and head during the riots, was with Sharma at the Wazirabad road.

“We suspect the crowd swelled to 30,000. People were pelting stones at us but we had to move forward and save our team members. I realised Sharma was hit in the head and Lal was shot. I still remember my subordinates and I lifted Sharma and jumped a two-metre fence to save everyone. I was hit with swords and hammers in the head and neck. The injuries were severe and reaching the hospital was a hard task,” said Kumar.

Lal is survived by his wife Poonam and their three children aged 14, 11 and 9, who live in Delhi’s Burari.

“My husband fought with hundreds that day. I remember going to the hospital and seeing him injured. I was told he was thrashed and shot at by the mob. He was also trying to save his seniors. Now, I am alone and have to look after my children by myself. We received compensation from Delhi Police and Delhi government but I wasn’t given a job that was promised by the latter. We are proud he is getting the medal. He was a loving husband and a great father,” said Poonam, Lal’s wife.

 

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