New Delhi: As violence returned to the national capital Tuesday, when thousands of protesters clashed with police in North-east Delhi’s Seelampur area, those out on the streets told ThePrint that they had simply wanted to voice their dissent against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and blamed the police for the chaos.
Mohammad Junaid, a 22-year-old student, and one of those leading the protest said, “The worst is even young children were beaten with lathis.” He pointed towards a 9-year-old with an injured finger.
The protesters not only raised slogans against the citizenship Act but also the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Delhi Police action at Jamia Millia Islamia Sunday.
“This isn’t just about us Muslims but, in fact, all of us as a nation. Hindus and Muslims are one,” said Feroz Khan, who works with an NGO.
Haji Afzal, a councillor in the area, claimed that it was time to teach the country’s leadership a lesson.
“If we all don’t come together now, when will we?” he said. “Narendra Modi and his friend Amit Shah can’t have it their way always. Are they not watching the news? Do they not know what is happening?”
While the first group of protesters dispersed around noon, another set raised anti-police slogans at about 5:30 pm. Echoing in unison, “Delhi Police haaye haaye”, the crowd walked from Yamuna Vihar towards the Seelampur chowk.
At the time of filing this report, a few local residents of the area were heard making requests to the crowd by loudspeaker to maintain peace and remain calm.
A day of violence
The clashes erupted at Seelampur Chowk when police prevented the protesters from moving towards Jaffrabad. A senior police officer requesting anonymity said the protests began around noon. It turned violent at around 1.15 pm.
Angry protesters torched several bikes and damaged a DTC bus as well as a private one.
Plumes of smoke billowed from at least two localities. Following this, police resorted to baton charges and fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesters.
Police officials told ThePrint that two bikes belonging to the traffic police were also burnt by the demonstrators.
The police were heavily outnumbered and resorted to constant tear gas shelling. Several metro stations — including Seelampur on the Red Line and Welcome, Jaffrabad and Maujpur-Babarpur on the Pink Line — were closed for several hours in the evening.
A large number of policemen and security personnel were deployed following the violence.
The road was full of broken glass pieces, with police alleging that they were of glass bottles full of petrol.