Soon after a rally was taken out by BJP leader Kapil Mishra near a demonstration against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in northeast Delhi’s Jaffrabad on Sunday, clashes erupted between pro- and anti-CAA protesters in the area. Security officials at the spot admitted the violence, including stone-pelting, threatened to take a communal turn, but was controlled.
Mishra, a former MLA who had been in the news during the recent Assembly polls campaign for provocative slogans, earlier in the day called people, via Twitter, to gather to protest against an anti-CAA demonstration that had moved to a road near the Jaffrabad Metro Station on Saturday night from a nearby sit-in.
In a video released by him after the violence, Mishra can be heard threatening the anti-CAA protesters. He told The Indian Express he had to make the statements to “release pressure” building among the crowd.
The BJP leader gathered along with supporters next to the Maujpur-Babarpur Metro Station, 2 km from the Jaffrabad anti-CAA protest, in the afternoon. As the crowd swelled to more than 200, he could be heard raising slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Jai Shri Ram”. People responded with slogans of “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko”.
According to locals, the former MLA left between 4-4.30 pm, an hour and a half after he had arrived. The violence began almost immediately after, with a group of people seen running from the Jaffrabad side towards Babarpur. As stone-pelting erupted from both sides, more locals gathered and violence spread towards the interiors of Babarpur. Teargas shells were used by police to disperse the crowd, whose numbers rose to more than 500.
Mishra later tweeted, “We have given a three-day ultimatum to the Delhi Police to get the road cleared. Get the Jafrabad and Chandbagh (where another sit-in protest is underway) road cleared”. He also put out a video of his speech at the pro-CAA gathering, where he said, “They (the protesters) want to create trouble in Delhi. That’s why they have closed the roads. That’s why they have created a riot-like situation here. We have not pelted any stones. Till the US President is in India, we are leaving the area peacefully. After that we won’t listen to you (police) if the roads are not vacated.” DCP (North East) Ved Prakash Surya is standing next to him as he makes the speech.
People broke portions of boundary walls to use stones for pelting. A supporter of the anti-CAA protest was dragged and beaten up close to a barricade before he was rescued by police.
Security personnel were seen pelting stones along with CAA supporters at the other side. Police refused to respond to questions regarding this.
While around 5.40 pm, the stone-pelting halted, it again began 10 minutes later, underneath the Maujpur-Babarpur Metro Station and lasted another half-an-hour. The situation was finally brought under control around 6.30 pm.
For security reasons, the entry and exit gates of the Maujpur-Babarpur Metro Station as well as the Jaffrabad Metro Station were closed through the day. Police continue to be deployed in the area in strength.
Alok Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police, Eastern Range, said, “There was stone-pelting. We brought the situation under control and are in constant talks with locals to bring peace. We are in the process of ascertaining the number of injured.”
He added, “It is possible that miscreants who wanted to create a law and order situation entered the area. We will identify them and take appropriate action.”
Late in the evening, heavy barricades were set up on the road leading to the Jaffrabad anti-CAA protest site. Demonstrators, mostly women, have been sitting there to mark their protest against the Act. On Saturday evening, around 500 of them took their protest to a road near the Jaffrabad Metro Station, blocking it, responding to Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad’s call for Bharat bandh on Sunday.
No violence was seen at this site.
During the recent election campaign, Mishra was penalised by the Election Commission for his tweets, in which he likened the polls to a contest between India and Pakistan. In December, Mishra had led a pro-CAA rally where he had raised the slogan “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko”.
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