Updated: February 25, 2020 4:41:18 am
A Delhi Police head constable and four civilians were killed and as many as 78, including a DCP, were injured as several parts of northeast Delhi turned into a battlezone and violence spiralled over the new citizenship law. Rival mobs, armed with sticks, rods and petrol bombs, torched vehicles, shops and homes. Until midnight Monday, violence was still on, a petrol pump in Bhajanpura was allegedly set ablaze.
This is the second day of clashes in the city where US President Donald Trump arrived in the evening for the main leg of his two-day India visit.
Today’s violence came after clashes erupted in the same district Sunday, barely 30 minutes after BJP’s Kapil Mishra held a rally to counter protests against the law and warned of action if anti-CAA protesters didn’t clear the road.
Maujpur, Jaffrabad, Bhajanpura, Yamuna Vihar, Chand Bagh and Gokalpuri saw heavy stone-pelting between two communities. While Sunday’s violence was largely set off by a clash between those opposing and those in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Monday’s clashes were more communally charged. The first incident of violence was reported at around 11 am and, by afternoon, large areas were littered with stones and burning storefronts, tyres and homes.
Police identified the head constable as Rattan Lal (42), a father of three who was posted at the office of ACP Gokalpuri. The dead civilians were identified as Mohd Furqaan (32), a resident of Kardampuri and a father of two; local residents Shahid and Rahul Solanki. The fourth civilian was unidentified until late Monday night.
DCP (Shahdara) Amit Sharma suffered serious head injuries and was taken to GTB Hospital. He was critical until Monday night. Also at the same hospital were Rohit Kumar Shukla (25) and Sahil Dabbas (22), both of whom said they had gunshot injuries in the leg.
In the afternoon, a man identified as Shahrukh was detained for allegedly firing at least eight shots into the crowd, said a Delhi Police officer. A video of the firing had gone viral during the day, showing Shahrukh firing the gun in close proximity to a policeman.
At 3.20 pm, Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Very distressing news regarding disturbance of peace and harmony in parts of Delhi coming in. I sincerely urge Hon’ble LG n Hon’ble Union Home Minister to restore law and order n ensure that peace and harmony is maintained. Nobody should be allowed to orchestrate flagrations.”
Despite reports of arson from several areas, the Delhi Fire Service (DFS) couldn’t make it to the spot for several hours to douse the flames and DFS director Atul Garg said, “We got hundreds of SOS calls and there was a lot of confusion. Two DFS vehicles were vandalised by protesters and three firefighters were injured in the stone-pelting. We managed to reach the spot after many hours.”
By afternoon, Delhi Police had imposed Section 144 in several parts of the district but crowds continued to pour into the streets and narrow bylanes. Though violence subsided later in the evening, late night saw some more stone-pelting.
Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy suggested that the violence had been orchestrated with an eye on the visit of US President Donald Trump and that those behind organising the protests must be held accountable for “maligning” the country’s reputation. “The violence in Delhi is highly condemnable. Narendra Modi ji is working tirelessly to get India greater respect in the world. Some political parties are working to malign the country’s image. To commit arson, indulge in rioting and to kill a policeman while US President Donald Trump is here… it is something that Rahul Gandhi and other political parties that are supporting it will have to answer about,” Reddy told The Indian Express.
Asking why these politicians were not speaking on these protests, Reddy said, “The Indian government will not tolerate this violence. We will conduct a high-level enquiry. Whoever is found guilty will be punished. Investigations will reveal the people behind this. By organising such protests when a world leader is in the country what kind of message do these people want to convey to the world about India? Do people who hold the national flag in one hand and engage in arson by the other have right to hold the flag?”
The Ministry of Home Affairs, meanwhile, is in constant touch with Delhi Police, taking stock of the situation, officials said.
Sources said Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had spoken to Delhi Police chief Amulya Patnaik who has been stationed in the police control room to constantly monitor the situation and guide police action.
Reacting to the continuing violence in Delhi, Bhalla said, “Senior officers are already in the field. Sufficient forces have already been deployed. Situation is under control.”
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