Protests related to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) took a violent turn on Monday in Maujpur and Jaffrabad areas of North East Delhi as pro and anti-CAA protesters clashed with each other for the second consecutive day.
Several areas of Delhi’s North East district witnessed fresh clashes over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), resulting in the death of five people including one policeman. The situation de-escalated late evening but not before at least 50 other people were injured.
The violent clashes have coincided with US President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to New Delhi, where he will spend most of Wednesday. Security forces are believed to be on guard to prevent any such clashes in the national capital.
A literal battlefield
Visuals from the violence-affected areas in Delhi resembled mini battlefields as clashes between pro and anti-CAA protesters turned ugly. Many vehicles, shops and houses were burnt down during the clashes. In fact, a petrol pump was also torched by agitators in Bhajanpura area.
Stones, pieces of bricks and glass shards lay strewn on road and plumes of smoke billowed from houses, shops and vehicles which were torched by mobs in northeast Delhi.
Vehicles were set on fire on Monday after clashes broke between pro and anti-CAA protesters. (Photo: AP)
In a widely-circulated video, a protestor brandishing a gun walked up to a Delhi Police personnel. He then walked away and fired a few rounds in the air.
Sources said the man in the video had been identified and appropriate action would be taken against him.
While initial clashes started Sunday afternoon, the situation escalated further on Monday as protesters not only engaged in arson but also stone-pelting.
Police tried to control the situation by firing tear gas shells at protesters but ultimately resorted to lathicharge as clashes worsened over CAA in Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Chandbagh, Khuriji Khas and Bhajanpura.
Security personnel conducted flag marches and prohibitory orders were clamped to bring the situation under control. Section 144 has been imposed in 10 areas of Delhi’s North East district.
5 dead, several injured
As mentioned earlier, the clashes on Monday have led to the death of five people and several have been injured. Four deaths were reported earlier on Monday, however, one more was reported late night.
Ratan Lal (42), a head constable attached to the office of the ACP Gokalpuri, died after he sustained injuries during stonepelting at Gokalpuri.
Three other civilians succumbed to injuries in the clashes, a Delhi government official said, adding 50 people with injuries had come to the hospital for treatment.
At least 11 police personnel, including Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Shahdara, Amit Sharma and ACP (Gokalpuri) Anuj Kumar were injured while trying to quell the protests. Two CRPF police personnel were also injured, sources said.
Visuals from the violent North East Delhi protest on Monday. (Photo: PTI)
According to reports, 45 injured have been admitted tp in GTB Hospital in Dilshad Garden, 15 in Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital in Shahdra while Six injured policemen including DCP are undergoing treatment at Max Hospital.
In the aftermath of the violence, government sources alleged that violence in the national capital was “orchestrated” by some for publicity as it coincides with Trump’s visit to Delhi.
They said Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik was stationed at the police control room and closely monitoring the situation.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla told reporters the situation in the national capital was fully under control and sufficient forces were deployed on the ground. Officials said at least eight companies (100 personnel each) of central armed police were present on the ground, besides the Delhi Police.
Protesters hurl brick-bats during clashes between pro and anti-CAA protesters in North East Delhi on Monday. (Photo: PTI)
All private and government schools in North East Delhi district will remain closed on Tuesday in the wake of the violence, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted.
The violence-affected areas witnessed several rounds of stone-pelting from pro and anti-CAA protestors. The roads were strewn with bricks, stones and glass shards.
A petrol pump and two school buses were torched at Bhajanpura-Yamuna Vihar border during the rampage by the protestors.
Vehicular traffic remained restricted on road number 59, which leads to Bhajanpura on one side and Ghaziabad via Gokulpuri flyover on the other side, causing inconvenience to commuters and locals, including students.
Caught in the crossfire
A youth wanting to pick up his elder sister from her office, a man from Aligarh hoping to join his family at a hospital, students going to take their board exams, and women hawkers waiting to return home were among the several people caught in the crossfire during clashes in Delhi on Monday.
“I don’t know how are we going to go back home now,” a woman hawker, standing along with a fellow hawker at C Block Yamuna Vihar bus stand, wondered as they waited for a DTC bus.
A 20-year-old man carrying a helmet said he had to leave his motorcycle in Gokulpuri as he tried to make his way to Mustafabad but was stuck at barricades put by the police.
Delhi Police personnel attempt to regain control during clashes between pro and anti-CAA protesters in North East Delhi on Monday. (Photo: PTI)
“My sister works there and she is calling me repeatedly, asking me to come and take her home in this situation. I am unable to find a way to reach her,” the man, visibly worried, told PTI.
A family from Aligarh district in Uttar Pradesh which had come to Rohini for a member’s treatment was also left stranded.
“Five of us, including two women, had come here in the morning. Rest four are still at the hospital in Rohini and I had come here for some work. Now I am waiting for the violence to end so that I can go pick them up and we all can return home,” a man, who identified himself as Abhishek Thakur, said as he sat on a pavement with his hatchback parked near Dayalpur police station.
How it all started
Violence had occurred on Sunday also over the amended citizenship law near Jaffrabad over blocking off the road by anti-CAA protesters, while similar sit-ins were launched in several other parts of the national capital including Hauz Rani.
The situation had escalated after BJP leader Kapil Mishra called a gathering on Sunday. Mishra demanded that police remove the anti-CAA protestors within three days.
A group of CAA supporters in Delhi’s Maujpur on Sunday. (Photo: PTI)
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the Centre to restore law and order in the national capital. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said he has instructed Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik to ensure the situation is brought under control.
“Very distressing news regarding disturbance of peace and harmony in parts of Delhi coming in. I sincerely urge Hon’ble LG n Hon’ble Union Home Minister to restore law and order n ensure that peace and harmony is maintained. Nobody should be allowed to orchestrate flagrations (sic),” Kejriwal tweeted.
In a tweet, Sisodia said all internal exams scheduled for Tuesday in schools in northeast Delhi will not be held and he will speak to Union HRD Minister R P Nishank on the issue of postponing the Board exam in this district.
Taking to Twitter, Baijal said, “Instructed @DelhiPolice and @CPDelhi to ensure that law and order are maintained in North East Delhi. The situation is being closely monitored. I urge everyone to exercise restraint for the maintenance of peace and harmony.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday condemned the violence in Delhi and urged people to show restraint, compassion, and understanding irrespective of the provocation.
He said peaceful protests are a sign of a healthy democracy, but violence can never be justified.
“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. I urge the citizens of Delhi to show restraint, compassion and understanding no matter what the provocation,” Gandhi tweeted.
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said the death of a Delhi Police head constable was a “ploy” to embarrass India during Trump’s visit and likened it to the massacre of Sikhs in Chattisinghpura in 2000 during the then US president Bill Clinton’s trip to the country.
“Shocked to hear the death of HC Sh Ratanlal in a brutal & barbaric manner. This reminds me of the massacre of Sikhs in Chattisinghpura during Clinton’s visit. Incidents change but anti-India forces remain the same. A ploy to embarrass India, Request all to remain calm & maintain peace,” she said in a tweet.
The Delhi Metro has closed entry and exit at the Jaffrabad, Maujpur-Babarpur, Shiv Vihar, Gokulpuri, Johri Enclave stations as violence prevailed in the area. The entry and exit of Central Secretariat, Patel Chowk and Udyog Bhawan were shut for nearly an hour.