Two days after a 17-year-old shot at a student of Jamia Millia Islamia during a protest against the new citizenship law, a man fired at least two shots about 50 metres from the stage at the Shaheen Bagh protest on Saturday. No one was injured in the firing, which took place around 4.45 pm.
The man, who identified himself as Kapil Gujjar while being taken away by police, was nabbed by volunteers and passers-by. “He has identified himself as Kapil, a 25-year-old resident of Dallupura (East Delhi). A country-made pistol was recovered from his possession and two empty cartridges were found at the spot,” said DCP (Southeast) Chinmoy Biswal.
In videos shot by eyewitnesses, Kapil can be heard saying “Jai Shri Ram” and “hamaare desh mein kisi ki nahi chalegi, sirf Hinduon ki chalegi (No one except Hindus will have their way in our country)”. He also said “ours is a Hindu rashtravaadi desh”, even as people in the area called him an “aatankwadi (terrorist)”.
An FIR under the Arms Act and IPC Sections 336 (act endangering life) and 506 (criminal intimidation) has been registered against Kapil at the Shaheen Bagh police station, and he is being questioned.
Joint CP (southern range) Devesh Srivastava said that during initial questioning, Kapil said he left home at 12.30-1 pm and reached Shaheen Bagh in an auto-rickshaw. “He claims he was disturbed by the protests and the trouble it was causing the commuters. He said he operated alone,” said Srivastava.
A senior police officer said Kapil kept changing his statement about the weapon — sometimes saying he has owned the country-made pistol for five years, at other times saying it was borrowed.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hit out at Home Minister Amit Shah following the shooting. “Mr Shah, what have you made of our Delhi? Bullets are being fired in broad daylight. Law and order is in tatters. Polls come and go, politics continues, but for the sake of people of Delhi, please focus on improving the law and order condition.”
The shootings at Jamia and Shaheen Bagh come in the backdrop of a bitter, polarising campaign. Kejriwal has been at the receiving end of attacks by BJP leaders, who have sought to link him to the protests at Shaheen Bagh.
Shah, in several rallies, has urged voters to press the lotus button (BJP’s poll symbol) so hard that the “current” is felt in Shaheen Bagh. On Monday, MoS (Finance) Anurag Thakur, while addressing a poll rally, repeatedly chanted “Desh ke gaddaron ko” while the crowd completed the slogan with “goli maaro saalon ko”. BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma has said that if protests in Shaheen Bagh are allowed to continue, protesters will “enter homes and rape our sisters and daughters”.
However, in a tweet on Saturday morning, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad struck a more conciliatory note, saying: “Government is ready to talk to protesters of Shaheen Bagh but then it should be in a structured form, and the Narendra Modi government is ready to communicate with them and clear all their doubts they have against CAA.”
Firing at Shaheen Bagh: Gunman a father of 3-year-old girl, family has dairy business
Meanwhile, even as DCP Biswal said “the youth fired in the air”, at least three eyewitnesses claimed “he fired once in the air, and once towards the front”. Biswal said the “police staff present near the barricade reacted immediately, overpowered him and took him in custody”. A volunteer at Shaheen Bagh, however, said Kapil was handed over to the police after he was nabbed by volunteers and passers-by.
“I saw the man running with a weapon; he fired in the air and then in front. He then ran back to the barricades and we caught him. He was saying ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘Hindustan mein sirf Hindu hi rahega’,” Nawab-ud-din, an eyewitness, told The Indian Express.
The Jamia gunman had also threatened to “end Shaheen Bagh” in a Facebook post before the shooting.
The shooting at Shaheen Bagh, which has emerged as the epicentre of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), left many shaken. But as panic spread, a few women took to the stage to reassure the protesters: “Hum sherniyaan hain, hum kahin nahi jaayenge (we are lionesses, we will not go anywhere).”
Tabassum Begum (45), who has been protesting since December 15, said, “These are scare tactics. It shows the weakness of people who want the protest to end. We are doing a peaceful protest and are more determined than ever.”
A senior police officer said “security will be increased in Shaheen Bagh and frisking will be ensured”.
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