New Delhi: There was anger among protesters gathered at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi Thursday evening as the gunman who opened fire near the campus was described as “mentally unstable” and “a minor” by some media outlets.
“Some media sections are trying to portray him as being mentally unstable or juvenile,” Mohammad Faiz, a BTech student at Jamia, told ThePrint.
“When Sharjeel Imam can be called a terrorist based on some statements — then why is a man who opened fire at students not being called a terrorist?”
There was a wave of shock around the country as an armed assailant made his way towards an anti-CAA stir near the Jamia campus Thursday afternoon. According to footage from the scene, he didn’t appear daunted by the police presence and, wielding a gun, screamed, “yeh lo azadi (here’s your freedom)”.
He reportedly opened fire and one student was injured as a bullet hit him in the hand. In the aftermath of the attack, it emerged that the assailant had posted several incendiary posts on his Facebook page.
Footage of Delhi Police appearing to just stand by and not immediately reining in the assailant, identified as a teenager from UP, went viral too, further stoking public anger.
“They were standing there with their hands folded, or their chins resting on their lathis — while he opened fire. This shows Delhi Police was never interested in acting against the violence,” said Sangeeta Bajpai, a student of Panjab University.
‘Please don’t resort to violence’
Soon after the incident, the crowds at Jamia swelled as students from other universities, including Delhi University, joined the protesters and attempted to remove the police barricades placed along the university-to-Holy-Family-Hospital stretch. There were allegations that the student injured in the shooting had to climb over the barricades to reach the other side for medical assistance.
As the students tried to climb up the barricades, and also move them, police kept appealing to them to maintain peace.
“This is Gandhi Jayanti, you are holding Gandhi posters — so please don’t resort to violence” was a common refrain emanating from police loudspeakers.
“They need to cooperate with us. The barricades only exist so that the peace and harmony of the city isn’t disrupted,” said Kumar Gyanesh, additional deputy commissioner of Delhi Police, told ThePrint.
“I am sure the students are listening to us, and will move away.” Asked about the shooting, he refused to comment.
Politicians need to be held accountable
In the recent days, BJP leaders Kapil Mishra and Anurag Thakur have used incendiary language in their interactions with supporters, especially a controversial chant that goes “desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko (shoot the traitors)”.
In the context of the protests against the CAA, the term “traitors” has been lobbed at those demonstrating against the Act.
The fact that a young gunman opened fire days after Thakur made the incendiary chant at a Delhi rally was pointed out by social media users. The protesters at Jamia echoed the sentiment.
“They say ‘goli maaro’, so, of course, people will listen to them. When you institutionalise hate and vigilantism — this is the obvious ground effect,” said Jamia student Ayesha Renna.
The students also called out initial reportage by some media outlets that sought to suggest the gunman was a Jamia student and an anti-CAA protester.
“This is their ploy to demonise the protesters,” said Faiz.