Updated: February 28, 2020 5:04:16 pm
On a day when the Congress president along with senior party leaders met President Ram Nath Kovind to call for the Union Home Minister’s resignation, the ruling BJP alleged that both the Congress and AAP were “politicising” the communal violence and that there were attempts to instigate violence.
Alleging that there was “complete inaction” on part of the Centre in quelling the communal violence in Delhi, a high-level Congress delegation led by Sonia Gandhi Thursday asked President Ram Nath Kovind to call upon the government to “protect and preserve” its raj dharma. The Congress urged the President to call for the removal of Home Minister Amit Shah, saying he “abdicated his duty and allowed the situation to escalate through his inaction”.
Shadab, 22, is ploughing through a heap of rubble. The large polythene bag in his hand has an assortment of things, the charred case of a CPU, a few sooty books, a sheaf of identity cards. Anything that he can salvage from his alma mater, Arun Modern Senior Secondary School, the 30-year-old school in the northeast Delhi neighbourhood of Brijpuri, which was vandalised and gutted on Tuesday evening by a mob. “It all happened in front of my eyes and I couldn’t do anything,” says Shadab, who owns a shoe shop adjacent to the school.
Demanding that the situation in communal violence-scarred Delhi be brought under control at the earliest, leaders of three key BJP allies on Thursday sought action against leaders who have made provocative remarks and condemned the “apathy” and “inaction” of Delhi Police. JD(U) leader K C Tyagi said the police did not show “any interest in controlling the situation or containing violence. He also said there was neither enough deployment nor a “clear direction” on how to contain the violence.
Haryana Power Minister Ranjit Chautala stoked a controversy Thursday by stating that “riots keep happening” and “are part of life”. Chautala was speaking to journalists in the Haryana Assembly complex about the riots in Delhi. He said, “Dekhiye, dange to hote rahte hain, pahle bhi hote rahe hain (See, riots keep happening, these have been taking place earlier too). The entire Delhi was burning when (former PM) Indira Gandhi was assassinated. These (riots) are part of life which keep taking place. The government is controlling this matter vigilantly and curfew had been imposed at all places (in Delhi) yesterday.”
At least 82 people sustained gunshot wounds during the violence in northeast Delhi over the last three days, The Indian Express has learnt. Of them, 21 people succumbed to their injuries, including Head Constable Ratan Lal who was the first reported casualty on Monday evening. With police so far having prepared a list of about 250 victims, including the dead and injured, the figure suggests that one in every three victims suffered bullet injuries — a number that has led to police investigating how so many rioters got access to guns.
Eight-year-old Ali giggled in his mother Shabana’s ear, “Iska naam Sonu rakh do, Ammi.” Next to Shabana (26) lay her day-old baby boy, who yawned in his sleep, unaware of the injury on his mother’s arm, sustained a day before he was born, in a mob attack. On Tuesday afternoon, a pregnant Shabana pleaded with the mob that had entered her house in Karawal Nagar’s Mahalaxmi Vihar not to hit her in the stomach. “The mob beat me with lathis… Some kicked me in the stomach. They stopped after a while, destroyed the house, and left,” said Shabana, as she lay on a bed at Al-Hind Hospital in Old Mustafabad.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for families of those who died in the communal violence in several parts of Northeast Delhi since Sunday. The government has also decided to extend its Farishtey Scheme, under which victims of road accidents and acid attacks can avail treatment at private hospitals for free, to riot victims. Living arrangements for families whose houses are damaged are being made in night-shelters, Kejriwal said.
For the last three days, Mahir (30) and his wife have been checking hospitals, police stations and bus stands nearby to look for their missing 13-year-old daughter. The teenager, a resident of Sonia Vihar, did not return from school on Monday. Amid the riots that have ravaged parts of Northeast Delhi over three days, and reports of bodies in drains, police have received several missing persons complaints.
Fresh instances of violence were seen in Northeast Delhi late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, with one person reportedly being shot at. Police, however, said no major incident of violence has taken place over the last two days. The communal violence in several areas of Northeast Delhi, which flared up on Sunday, has killed 38 people so far. Curfew has been imposed in the area.
On Thursday, the death toll from the violence that rocked Northeast Delhi touched 38. While 34 deaths were reported from GTB Hospital, three were reported from Lok Nayak Hospital and one at Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital. Fifteen post-mortems have been performed by hospitals so far. The Indian Express spoke to families of 30 people who lost their lives in the riots.
Thursday afternoon is the first time Mohammad Azad of Azad Chicken Shop has come out of hiding to assess the damage after his shops and house were burnt and vandalised. His brothers lost a fruit shop and sweet shops, where squished oranges lay scattered on the floor. This is 10 metres from Khajuri Khas police help centre on Bhajanpura main road in Northeast Delhi.
More than 500 people have been detained or arrested and 48 FIRs registered in connection with the Northeast Delhi violence even as 7,000 paramilitary personnel have been deployed to maintain calm, the Home Ministry said Thursday. Home Minister Amit Shah took a review meeting of the prevailing situation in the capital and noted that there had been no major incident in the last 36 hours. The meeting was attended by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Delhi Police chief Amulya Patnaik and Special CP S N Srivastava.
Riots that took place in parts of Northeast Delhi over the last few days have left many schoolgoing children scarred. With exams postponed, schools shut, and their neighbourhoods gripped with tension, several children are worried about their academics, friends and the future. Aliyah Mansoori (17), a class XI student of a school in Dayalpur, said she has been traumatised since her home in Shiv Vihar was attacked by rioters. She and her family have since shifted to a relative’s place in Mustafabad.
Poor communication between local police and their seniors on Monday afternoon gave Shahrukh Khan (27), who allegedly fired eight rounds at Northeast Delhi’s Maujpur while standing right in front of a policeman, enough time to flee. Four days after a video of Khan waving a country-made pistol at a police personnel went viral, he is yet to be traced. Ten teams of the Delhi Police, including the Special Cell, have been formed to arrest him.
A day after police recovered a body from a drain in Jafrabad, three more bodies were recovered from another drain in Gokulpuri Thursday. To ensure no more bodies are left in the drains in the area, police are seeking help from local divers. Early Thursday morning, locals saw a hand jutting out of the garbage piled at the Gokulpuri drain and called police. Around 7 am, the patrolling team of around 50 personnel called local divers and told them to bring out the body.
Deeming the violence occurring in the national capital as the most recent in a chain of various “communal genocides” carried out by “fascist regimes”, left leaning student outfits from the city gathered at Panjab University’s (PU) student centre to conduct a “People’s March Against Fascism”, marking the death anniversary of freedom fighter Chandra Shekhar Azaad.
Ravinder Sharma, the father of IB staffer Ankit Sharma, who was killed during the riots in Khajuri Khas, in his complaint to the police, alleged that AAP councillor Tahir Hussain had assembled goons at his residence who were firing guns and throwing petrol bombs from the rooftop. Ankit’s body was found dumped in a drain in Jafarabad Wednesday.
With three mosques being targeted during the violence, a group of men from both communities have got together to prevent retaliatory attacks on Shiv Temple in Babu Nagar in Old Mustafabad, keeping watch 24×7. Mohd Haseen (24), a BA student of Delhi University’s Deshbandhu College, is among those who have been making sure communal tension in adjoining areas doesn’t spread to their locality.
Delhi Police has registered an FIR under IPC Sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) against AAP councillor Tahir Hussain in connection with the killing of Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma, whose body was pulled out of a drain in northeast Delhi Wednesday.
A day after it was directed by a Delhi High Court bench headed by Justice S Muralidhar to register FIRs against four BJP leaders and others who made hate speeches in the run-up to the communal violence in northeast Delhi, the Delhi Police and the Centre, which was made an impleader Thursday, repeated their claim that the “prevailing situation” was not “conducive” to lodge the FIRs.
Barely hours after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, accompanied by senior Delhi Police officers, visited the riot-hit areas of northeast Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he “had an extensive review on the situation prevailing in various parts of Delhi.” Admitting that the Delhi Police could not bring the situation under control, BJP sources said the government was keen on putting the “administration” into action to contain the violence which has claimed 27 lives so far.
India is descending into a night of dread and despair. The ongoing riots in Delhi are not a tactical aberration, some absent-minded lapse of attention. They have been in the making for a while, and represent the future that our ruling classes, with our aid and support, have imagined for us. The idea is to carpet bomb the Indian republic as we know it, and replace it with a regime that thrives on cruelty, fear, division and violence.
This moment is one that Delhi had not thought could come again. After all, large-scale communal violence was a thing of the past in this city. It is the delay that will hang in the air, when all is calm again. Delay that the ruling party deploys as political tactic and strategy. Delay that sharpens minority fears and anxieties about a discriminatory law and gives room for majoritarianism to swell and grow. The violence in Delhi will, it must, die down. But it will take sustained political effort and wisdom to make the scars of delay fade away.
A newly married man, a carpenter, a DJ, a businessman, a construction worker and a father who went to buy toffees for his children — they are among the 33 people who died during the violent clashes that gripped several areas of Northeast Delhi for the past four days. While the bodies lay inside mortuaries, grieving families waited outside to take them home.
Less than 100 metres away, at the Gokalpuri tyre market set ablaze over the last three days, a lone constable from the police station sat on the pavement and watched fire officials at work. On Tuesday, he had stood at the entrance, watching as men with bikes, lathis in their hands, sped past raising slogans. He has one explanation for what changed overnight: “Upar se order aa gaye raat ko…. Ab sab shaant hai.”
The remains of the riot — burnt shops, shattered glass, teargas shells and presence of paramilitary forces — made Maujpur main road look like a ghost town Wednesday. But in gali numbers 4 and 6 of Gurdwara Mohalla, less than 100 metres away, the scenes were starkly different. To ensure no violence takes place inside their lane, residents collected Rs 4,000 on Tuesday and got a metal gate fixed at the colony so non-residents cannot come in.
Coming down on hate speeches made by BJP leaders and expressing “anguish” over the communal violence in northeast Delhi that has left at least 27 people dead, the Delhi High Court Wednesday questioned the conduct of Delhi Police and directed it to register FIRs against those who made the speeches, saying “this city has seen enough violence” and “let it not repeat 1984” when anti-Sikh riots claimed over 2,700 lives in Delhi alone.
Since Monday, there was no room for any patient inside the Al Hind Hospital in Old Mustafabad and the violence had, effectively, walled off the hospital from the city — its supplies depleting, patients stranded. That changed Tuesday night when the Delhi High Court, well past midnight, ordered the police to ensure safe passage for the evacuation from Al Hind of those critical.
The body of a 25-year-old Intelligence Bureau security assistant, who had been missing since Tuesday evening, was on Wednesday found inside a drain in northeast Delhi’s Chand Bagh area.
Alleging a “well planned conspiracy” behind the violence in Delhi, the Congress on Wednesday demanded the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah, holding him responsible for “a colossal failure of duty”. It said the Delhi government was “equally responsible” for “not activating the administration to reach out to the people to maintain peace and harmony”.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, along with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and AAP leader Gopal Rai, visited riot-affected Shiv Vihar in Northeast Delhi on Wednesday evening. Violence has rocked areas of Northeast Delhi since Sunday evening, after an alleged clash between pro- and anti-CAA groups.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Wednesday appealed from the Delhi Assembly to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to call in the Army to control the situation in the capital if violence continues to escalate. Earlier in the day, Kejriwal said he had written to Shah, asking that curfew be imposed and the Army called in.
Until recently, the Yamuna Vihar and Chand Bagh neighbourhoods were one wide road apart — the National Highway 9, which cuts through North East Delhi. The distance gradually grew as an anti-CAA protest raged in the area. Over Monday and Tuesday, the gulf widened further, leaving a gaping hole in the middle — one that cannot be seen, but felt. On Wednesday, it could be felt in the words of Sumit Rohilla, whose private coaching academy in Yamuna Vihar was targeted by rioters “from Chand Bagh”.
A saffron flag inscribed with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ fluttered on top of a minaret and a Tricolour lay mangled a step below. On Tuesday, rioters had desecrated the mosque and set it on fire, and torched and looted at least four homes underneath. Videos of men climbing the minaret had been circulated through Tuesday. This was one of two mosques, a kilometre apart, targeted inside Ashok Nagar, between noon and 3 pm. Two kilometres away in Brijpuri, another mosque was desecrated by rioters and torched.
Visiting riot-hit areas in Northeast Delhi Wednesday, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval Wednesday assured locals that “peace will prevail”. This is the second visit by Doval to the area in less than 24 hours. On Tuesday night, he toured riot-hit areas in the district and sought details of the dead and injured. On Wednesday afternoon, Doval interacted with locals in Maujpur and Jafrabad. And though he was greeted by slogans of ‘Delhi Police zindabad’ in both areas, two residents from Jafrabad aired their complaints.
After three days of arson and violence in areas surrounding his neighbourhood in Northeast Delhi’s Maujpur, 15-year-old Sambhav left home for his first-ever board examination on Wednesday morning. “There was a lot of violence since Sunday, so he was unable to study very well. We locked ourselves inside our homes. He kept running to the windows to see what was happening outside. I thought his exam would get affected by this but he called me and said it went well,” said his mother Meenakshi Singh, waiting for him to return home in the afternoon.
In embattled neighbourhood after neighbourhood in northeast Delhi, which has been in the grip of violence for three days, one story played through Tuesday from morning to midnight — groups of young men armed with sticks and rods looking for a fight, setting shops and homes owned by Muslims on fire. All right under the nose of the police who either stood as silent spectators, looked the other way or were plain missing when they were most needed. The death toll from the violence touched 17 by Wednesday morning.
Three days into the violence and reports of arson and attacks coming in even late Tuesday night, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited riot-hit northeast Delhi. Doval first headed to the office of DCP (Northeast) in Seelampur, Ved Prakash Surya, accompanied by Commissioner of Police Amulya Patnaik. Sources said he sought details of the dead and injured and the number of those arrested and detained.
At hospitals in northeast Delhi on Tuesday, grief knew no religion. Sitting outside the mortuary of Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital was Hari Singh Solanki (69), who lost his eldest son in the clashes on Monday. His family members blamed BJP leader Kapil Mishra for instigating violence in the area — relatives of some of the others killed or injured too blamed Mishra, and many demanded severe punishment.
An Express journalist, who went for reporting in Delhi’s Karawal Nagar, was onfronted by a mob that assaulted him. “I was spared momentarily until another mob followed me. A man, seemingly in his 50s, removed my spectacles, stepped on them and slapped me twice for “reporting from a Hindu-dominated area”. They checked my press card. “Shivnarayan Rajpurohit, hmm. Hindu ho? Bach gaye.” Not satisfied, they wanted more proof whether I was a real Hindu. “Bolo Jai Shri Ram”. I was silent.”
In an unprecedented midnight hearing at the judge’s residence, Justice S Muralidhar and Justice A J Bhambhani ordered immediate evacuation of the injured from Mustabafad’s Al Hind Hospital. A forum, consisting doctors from various government and private hospitals, had moved Delhi High Court late Tuesday night seeking police protection for ambulances heading towards medical facilities with people injured in violence at North East Delhi’s Mustafabad area. The bench also said that the injured be moved to GTB or other nearby hospitals, which had the facilities to treat them.
Under pressure to respond more effectively as violence escalated in the national capital, which he won by an overwhelming majority just earlier this month, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal suggested he had faith in the Centre’s handling of the situation. This, even as his own MLA, Atishi, tweeted: “Violence and arson has been continuing for 48 hours now. Police, civilians, Hindus, Muslims are injured in large numbers. At least 10 people have died. If police are unable to maintain law and order, why is Amit Shah not imposing curfew? Why is the Army not being called in?”
For over three hours on Tuesday afternoon, residents of Bhajanpura burnt shops and pelted stones, gradually advancing towards the Muslim-dominated Chand Bagh area. Till afternoon, there was little police presence to push them back. Eventually, at 5.05 pm, reinforcements arrived in the form of the Rapid Action Force and Delhi Police armed in riot gear, who lobbed teargas shells and pelted stones into Chand Bagh as part of their “area domination exercise”. Their tactics in dealing with Bhajanpura residents were relatively more muted, and involved asking them to back off minus the teargas.
A packet of halwa and parathas for his children — this was the first thing on Mohammad Zubair’s mind when he stepped out of his house in Chand Bagh on Monday. Photos of the brutal assault on Zubair were captured by a Reuters photographer and shared widely on Tuesday. The next thing Zubair remembered is waking up at GTB Hospital. He does not remember much about the attack, but the photograph brings up painful memories. “I don’t remember much. I just hoped my children were safe. I can’t bear to look at my photograph, my legs shiver with pain,” Zubair told The Indian Express.
Hours after an emergency meeting was called by Home Minister Amit Shah Tuesday afternoon in connection with the violence in Northeast Delhi, S N Shrivastava, a 1985-batch AGMUT cadre officer, was repatriated to the Delhi Police from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). He has been appointed as Special Commissioner (Law and Order). Sources told The Indian Express that the decision to appoint Shrivastava with immediate effect was taken after the performance of Delhi Police was analysed by the Home Ministry, which found lack of action on its part since Saturday night.
East Delhi BJP MP Gautam Gambhir Tuesday condemned the violence over the amended citizenship law and demanded strict action against anyone, including his party colleague Kapil Mishra, if they gave provocative speeches. “Whoever, no matter which party he belongs to, whether he is Kapil Mishra or anyone else, who give speeches to provoke people, action should be taken against them,” Gambhir said.
Class X and XII board exams scheduled to take place Wednesday have been postponed for students of 86 centres located in Northeast and East Delhi due to violence in these areas. The announcement was made late Tuesday night by CBSE. Class X CBSE students are sitting for their first exam, English, and Class XII students have the Web Application and Media exam Wednesday.
A 30-year-old TV journalist from JK 24X7 News was shot at while an NDTV journalist was allegedly thrashed by rioters in Northeast Delhi Tuesday. Akash Napa was covering the violence at Maujpur at noon when a group of men shot him in his left shoulder, said his colleagues. He was rushed to hospital.
Three days into the violence in Northeast Delhi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Tuesday held his first high-level meeting with political representatives and said the violence was spontaneous. As the death toll climbed to 13 and violence continued, Shah expressed confidence in Delhi Police and officials ruled out calling the Army.
Saving fellow officers from stone-pelters who had outnumbered them, Delhi Police Head Constable Rattan Lal (42) suffered multiple injuries to his head and body and a gunshot wound before he died, a member of his family said Tuesday.Around 2 pm Monday, Lal was in Dayalpur with a police force when around “thousands” of people came out together and pelted stones at them, said his cousin Sunder Lal (46).
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