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Delhi violence: Deadly protests rock the national capital

What started as protests for and against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAA) have taken a violent and communal turn. Jafrabad and Maujpur are the epicentres of this violence. Hindus and Muslims live in the same localities here and in some areas only lanes separate them.

Last Updated: Feb 26, 2020, 09.20 AM IST
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PTI
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Connected to the Maujpur chowk is a market of items ranging from clothes to electronics. Several of these shops were vandalised and the products gathered in a heap outside and set on fire.
NEW DELHI: Tuesday was the third day since violence broke out in north-east Delhi. The situation was still tense. In the deserted streets of the riot-hit areas, men from the Hindu and Muslim communities were seen carrying iron rods and bats, in a bid to guard the areas where they reside. Shops were vandalised and the products inside burnt over claims that they belonged to the other community. In this chaos, firing, stone pelting and use of petrol bombs took place. While 10 people, including a police official have been killed, and 130 civilians are left injured, the police are finally pushing back the mob.

What started as protests for and against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAA) have taken a violent and communal turn. Jafrabad and Maujpur are the epicentres of this violence. Hindus and Muslims live in the same localities here and in some areas only lanes separate them. Upon visiting the area, men were seen carrying iron rods and bats, brandishing them as weapons. The police barricaded a part of the main Maujpur road. Entry to Maujpur from Jafrabad was possible only through small bylanes. At Maujpur, some buildings along the main road were burnt over the past two days. Bricks and shards of glass were strewn on the deserted road, while men holding bats stood watch near the lanes connecting to the road. It gave an unsafe feeling.

The road led to the Maujpur chowk, where a large crowd had gathered and were chanting Hindu religious slogans. “The violence broke out on Sunday. It happened after anti-CAA protesters gathered at Jafrabad and those opposing them assembled at the Maujpur chowk. Stone pelting took place between them,” said Ravinder, who owns a shop nearby.

Connected to the Maujpur chowk is a market of items ranging from clothes to electronics. Several of these shops were vandalised and the products gathered in a heap outside and set on fire. Near one particular shop lay broken LCD TV screens. “It probably belonged to a Muslim and that is why it was targeted. It was the right thing to do,” a local said.

A little further away, outside a vandalised store lay shoes and slippers that were burnt, turned black with the fire and only their labels left visible. People had broken a steel shutter of a shop and gutted some of the products, including a fridge. “Can you stay here I will return to shift the products upstairs,” a man who appeared to be the shop owner said to an acquaintance standing near him.

After he left, a youth carrying a bat strode by, striking the gutted fridge. “At least leave that, it has already been destroyed,” a local shouted to him.

“What has happened is wrong. It should not have taken place,” the local said.

Around 100 metres away is the Maujpur-Babarpur metro station that had been closed in view of the violence. Here, the Delhi Police and Rapid Action Force contingents in riot gear were deployed. A nallah here separates Maujpur from Kardam Puri, a Muslim dominated area from where shots were fired and stones pelted. In turn, people at Maujpur hurled petrol bombs and threw stones to that locality as well.

Later, the police started pushing people back into the lanes, as a bid to end the violence and control the situation. Additional Commissioner of Police Mandeep Singh Randhawa, the police spokesperson, said that sufficient force has been deployed in the north-east district, including in Maujpur, Gokulpuri, Bhajanpura and Karawal Nagar where violence also broke out. “The north-east is under control. Some stray incidents have taken place and the police is responding to them,” Randhawa said, adding that drones were being used to monitor the situation.

Some of these incidents include arson, vandalising shops and damaging vehicles. Motorists were stopped and directed to identify their religion. Questions arise on why the police were not able to preempt and control the situation when the violence broke out.

Randhawa said that following Monday, the police have imposed section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibits the assembly of four or people, in the north-east district. Eleven FIRs on murder, attempt to murder, rioting and arson have been registered and about 20 to 25 people have been detained. About 130 civilians and 56 police personnel have been injured. One of the injured police personnel is Deputy Commissioner of Police (Shahdara) Amit Sharma, who sustained head injuries. Police sources said that a mob had surrounded him in a bid to lynch him. Head Constable Ratan Lal who was killed in the violence on Monday had died of gunshot injuries. The police has pointed out that civilians have opened fire. One of the detainees, Shahrukh, who had pointed a gun at a police official and fired a few rounds will be arrested.

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