Updated: December 18, 2019 7:20:39 am
“I wasn’t expecting that the protest would turn violent in a moment and hundreds of men would turn hostile. They hit us with bricks and stones. We tried to stop them, but they didn’t listen to us,” said Dara Singh, a constable posted with Seelampur police station, who was injured in Tuesday’s violence.
Singh was among 12 policemen who sustained injuries during the protest. Six protesters were also injured. Police said more than 2,000 protesters gathered around Seelampur Chowk at 2 pm and held a “silent protest” against the new citizenship law for an hour.
Alok Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police, Eastern Range, said protesters were initially calm and police officers too asked them to be peaceful. Later, as they started dispersing, some of them attacked police. “We exercised restraint and used teargas to remove the protesters, but they pelted stones at the team. Twelve policemen were injured and rushed to the hospital. The protesters also destroyed three bikes, two buses and a Rapid Action Force (RAF) van,” said Kumar.
Police said three RAF personnel and six civilians were also injured in stone-pelting and were taken to Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital before being discharged later.
A Delhi Police spokesperson told The Indian Express that Dara Singh and a civilian were later referred to GTB Hospital.
Singh said, “I was standing with five to eight other policemen when more than 20 men surrounded us and pelted stones and bricks. Although I was wearing a helmet, a stone hit my left eye and I fell to the ground. I could hear my colleagues trying to pacify the angry crowd, but they were still pelting stones at us. Soon, officers came to my help and took me to the hospital.”
A senior officer from Gokalpuri police station also sustained injuries on his leg when he was trying to remove protesters from the site, said police. JCP Kumar said police took help from locals from RWAs, mosques and madrasas to pacify the crowd.
A constable from Jafrabad police station said, “I thought the protesters were leaving. We weren’t even ready for the violence. Everything was fine until a small group of people shouted slogans and tried to attack us. We tried pushing them and used teargas. I tried to speak to some men. But they even attacked other protesters and those who were trying to cross the road. We had to stop them.”
A local who sustained an injury on his head was discharged from GTB in the evening, said police. Anil Mittal, additional PRO, Delhi Police, said two FIRs were registered at Seelampur and Jafrabad police stations. Five men have been detained and further probe is on.
Aman committee calms tempers
As hundreds of protesters thronged the streets, a call for peace could be heard in the background — that of Aman Committee members urging people to resist violence. “Announcements were made on loudspeakers. We spoke to groups to de-escalate tension,” said Dr Faheem Beg, a committee member. “One of our biggest tasks is to make sure rumours are not spread, since we have seen how one wrong information can impact it. We made announcements and explained to people that it’s our democratic right to protest in a peaceful manner,” he added.
— Amil Bhatnagar
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