New Delhi: The situation in Northeast Delhi’s Jaffrabad-Maujpur region remained grim Monday as violent clashes between pro- and anti-Citizenship Act protesters continued for a second day, resulting in the death of a police constable and a civilian.
Multiple shops, small stores as well as vehicles like cars and autorickshaws were set on fire in the afternoon.
“My auto was parked outside a shop in Maujpur. When I went back to it in the afternoon, I saw it’s completely charred,” said 40-year-old Muhammad Shami, who has been driving an auto in the area for over a decade.
Head constable Ratan Lal, who was deployed in Maujpur area, reportedly suffered an injury in the stone pelting, leading to his death. A civilian also succumbed to his injuries, Delhi Police confirmed.
Amid the protests, an unidentified man opened fire, shooting 8 rounds. No injuries were reported from this incident, and police sources said a hunt was on to nab him.
According to a senior police officer, over 50 people were injured in the violence, of which 20 have been admitted at GTB Hospital.
A total of six policemen have also been admitted to the Max hospital, including a deputy commissioner of police and additional commissioner of police.
Clash of protests
Two protests with opposite demands and separated by a few hundred metres disrupted the peace in the Jaffrabad-Maujpur region, beginning Sunday evening. Although police canvassed the area and put up barricades to control the violence, by Monday afternoon, the situation had escalated.
In Maujpur, women held a rally demanding the enactment of the amended Citizenship Act (CAA), and said they would “recreate their own Shaheen Bagh”.
“We won’t move until they move. If they can block roads and cause inconvenience, so can we,” Ritu Sharma, a protester, told ThePrint.
Amid chants of ‘Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro s****n ko’ (shoot the traitors), the women said they wanted the CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC) to be implemented across the country.
“Why should Muslims of Pakistan be allowed citizenship? We want CAA-NRC,” said another woman protester.
Jaffrabad metro station, where 24×7 anti-CAA protests began Saturday, saw numbers swell by Monday.
“We aren’t enjoying sitting here, even with the continued violence. (But) we need to because we know that if we get up, they will know that they can silence us,” said Halima Sheikh, a 65-year-old woman protester.
‘Not our fault’
Both protests denied any involvement in the violence and blamed the other side. There was also resistance to speak to the media, or anyone taking any video recordings.
Several men were seen carrying hockey sticks and lathis as police looked on.
“We are trying our best to bring the law and order situation under control,” additional DCP (northeast Delhi) Rajender Singh Sagar, who was at the spot, told ThePrint.
A senior officer said the police were in the process of registering cases of rioting and arson and are still working on bringing the situation “under control as stone pelting is continuing in pockets of the area”.
“Our first priority is to control the situation and our force is working for the same. Next, we will be identifying the miscreants with the help of video footage that we accessed from several sources,” the police officer said, adding that over a dozen people have been detained from different areas.
No arrests had been made as of late Monday evening.
Politics & Trump
Union Minister of State (Home) G. Kishan Reddy condemned the violence and said the government “will not spare” the miscreants.
“We have not tried to stop these protests through police action for the past two months as everyone has a right to protest in a democracy. What is happening now is violence and the government will take serious action in this,” he said.
“A protest is fine if done keeping in mind the Constitution, till it is peaceful. But if you go against the Constitution, then government will not forgive you,” he added.
Reddy also said the violence was an attempt to taint India’s image before the world. US President Donald Trump landed in Delhi Monday evening as a part of his two-day India visit.
“To congregate and pelt stones at a time when Trump is visiting, is against the nation, its government. It is an attempt to tarnish India’s image before the world,” Reddy said.
Reddy said sufficient force, including the Rapid Action Force, had been deployed in Delhi to control the situation.
Earlier in the day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had tweeted, urging citizens to “show restraint, compassion and understanding no matter what the provocation”.
“The violence today in Delhi is disturbing and must be unequivocally condemned. Peaceful protests are a sign of a healthy democracy, but violence can never be justified,” Gandhi added.
(With inputs from Ananya Bhardwaj)