New Delhi: The Hanuman Jayanti procession during which violence broke out in Northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri Saturday evening was held without permission, Delhi Police said Monday, adding that an FIR had been lodged against its organisers.
However, a national spokesperson of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), while confirming that the organisers belonged to the outfit, contested the police’s claims, alleging that they had “proof” in the form of a “written permission”.
A communal flare-up erupted on 16 April during a ‘Shobha Yatra’ held to mark Hanuman Jayanti. Stone-pelting and the use of firearms left nine people injured in the violence.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Northwest) Usha Rangnani said that an FIR was registered against the organisers of the yatra Sunday at the Jahangirpuri police station for proceeding with the procession without permission.
“The FIR has been lodged under IPC Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). One accused has joined the investigation,” she added.
Police said three Hanuman Jayanti rallies passed through Jahangirpuri Saturday. “The processions carried out during the morning and noon had due permission,” said DCP Rangnani.
However, the procession that passed the locality’s C Block around 6 pm saw clashes break out between Hindus and Muslims in front of the Jama Masjid near Kushal Cinema.
Police sources said the organisers of the evening rally belonged to the VHP and the Delhi unit of its youth wing Bajrang Dal.
When contacted, VHP national spokesperson Vinod Bansal told ThePrint that the organisers of the ‘Shobha Yatra’ belonged to his outfit, but refuted the police’s claims that they proceeded without permission.
“We have proof that the police had granted us permission to carry out the procession well before it started. If any action is taken against the VHP or its workers, the police records will come into question. We will submit our proof in court,” he added.
Asked what proof he had, he referred to a “permission letter”, but refused to elaborate on the same.
According to the Delhi Police, initial investigation has revealed that an altercation broke out between Hindus and Muslims as the rally reached the mosque, leading to stone-pelting. Even though it was controlled initially, the situation flared up within minutes over alleged sloganeering.
An FIR was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by a Delhi Police inspector at 11.40 pm Saturday. Police resorted to firing tear gas shells to bring the situation under control. Firearms and swords were recovered from the accused. The case was transferred to the Crime Branch Sunday.
Youth seen ‘opening fire’ in video held
On Monday, a youth identified as Sonu alias Imam was arrested in connection with the violence. According to the police, the 28-year-old was seen in videos that surfaced online Sunday, allegedly opening fire during the clash.
This brings the total number of arrests in the case to 23. Two minors have been apprehended as well.
A police team also visited Sonu’s house on C.D. Park Road in Jahangirpuri. “Family members pelted stones in retaliation and one person was detained,” DCP Rangnani said.
Claim of attempt to hoist saffron flags baseless, says top cop
Speaking at a press conference Monday, Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana refuted claims that attempts were made to hoist saffron flags atop the mosque, which led to the violence, calling them “baseless”.
“We are monitoring social media closely, and legal action will be taken against those who are found spreading misinformation,” he added.
The police chief further said that a forensics team examined the crime spot and collected samples Monday. “Fourteen police teams are investigating the case from different angles. The investigation is in the initial phase. We are analysing all technical evidence and probing all angles,” he added.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)