A head constable was among five people killed as violence spiralled over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in northeast Delhi, with houses, shops, vehicles and a petrol pump being torched and stones being hurled. 78 others, including several paramilitary and Delhi Police personnel, were reportedly injured.
According to many journalists who covered the riots in Delhi, trouble started on February 23 when anti-CAA protesters sat in dharna at the Jaffarabad police station. BJP's Kapil Mishra made provocative speeches asking supporters to gather and vacate the protesters.
Things became more tense on February 24, and police fired tear gas shells and resorted to lathicharge as clashes broke out between the right wing and anti-CAA groups at Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Chandbagh, Khureji Khas and Bhajanpura. Security personnel conducted flag marches and prohibitory orders were clamped to bring the situation under control. At many places, the police were accused of aiding the right wing activists.
Sporadic clashes continued late into Monday night in Maujpur and other areas. A mob set a tyre market on fire in the Gokulpuri area on Monday night. A call about the massive blaze was received around 8.30 pm, following which 15 fire tenders were sent, a fire department official said. Several shops were gutted in the fire, the official said, adding that it was brought under control by 11.40 pm.
What happened on Monday
Ratan Lal (42), a head constable attached to the office of the Assistant Commissioner of Police Gokulpuri, died after he sustained injuries during stone pelting at Gokulpuri.
The Delhi government confirmed that three civilians died in the clashes and that 50 people had come with injuries to hospitals for treatment. However, media reports said that a fourth civilian was also dead, and according to the Indian Express, 78 were injured.
The civilians dead have been identified as 32-year-old Kardampuri resident Mohd Furqaan, Shahid and Rahul Solanki. The fourth person is yet to be identified.
All the shops in the areas were shut but the stick-carrying protestors vandalised them by pelting stones. Some right wing activists were also seen gheraoing and assaulting a Muslim man. Blood was oozing from his head, while some of the attackers raised provocative slogans. Photographs of this assault was captured by Danish Siddiqui of Reuters.
A protester also fired multiple rounds in the air at Jaffarabad. In a widely-circulated video, the man brandishing a gun can be seen walking up to a Delhi Police personnel, and then walking away, firing a few rounds in the air.
The man has reportedly been identified as Shahrukh, a resident of the area, and according to an AltNews report, he came from the anti-CAA side of protesters.
A petrol pump and two school buses were torched at Bhajanpura-Yamuna Vihar border during the rampage by the protesters.
Police chased and hit at least four young men with batons near a footbridge on one side of the road, where dozens of personnel were deployed in anti-riot gear, a PTI reporter witnessed. At least half a dozen youths were also picked up in a truck by the police.
Another unidentified man was chased down and assaulted as he ran to escape the mob at an intersection under the Gokulpuri flyover around 6.30 pm.
In a tweet, Reuters reporter Devjyot Ghoshal said that a policeman could be heard saying: “Go ahead and throw stones” to pro-CAA protesters.
There was some coordination, too.— Devjyot Ghoshal (@DevjyotGhoshal) February 24, 2020
“Go ahead and throw stones,” one policeman shouted to protesters backing the law, during one of the running battles.
Why there weren't more cops immediately deployed is a little puzzling. pic.twitter.com/lxgc8446EH
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Monday evening told reporters that the situation 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.
However, Delhi minister and Babarpur MLA Gopal Rai tweeted that rioting was continuing at night in his constituency.
Police have imposed section 144 of the CrPC, which prohibits the assembly of four or more people, in areas affected by violence in northeast Delhi.
"They stay in our country, eat out food and root for Pakistan. These days girls say 'Pakistan is ours', if you are talking about Pakistan so much, then go and live there too," Vandana Sharma, a resident of Babarpur, told @thequint— Aishwarya S Iyer (@iyersaishwarya) February 25, 2020
This is at the Maujpur chowk. pic.twitter.com/YrpJl3gz9b
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.
The violence in northeast Delhi came amid US President Donald Trump’s visit to India.
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said the death of the 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.
Delhi ministers Gopal Rai, Imran Hussain and AAP MLAs camped outside the House of the LG Anil Baijal, seeking an appointment with him for the deployment of sufficient police forces in the areas hit by violence. Special Commissioner of Police Rajesh Khurana met the AAP MLAs as the representative of the LG and assured them that adequate security will be deployed in the vulnerable areas, Rai, who is the Delhi Environment Minister, said on Twitter.
An urgent meeting of MLAs and officials from the areas hit by violence in northeast Delhi has been called Delhi CM Kejriwal at his residence on Tuesday morning.
Am v worried abt prevailing situation in certain parts of Del. All of us together shud make all efforts to restore peace in our city. I again urge everyone to shun violence— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 25, 2020
Am meeting all MLAs (of all parties) of affected areas along wid senior officials in a while
With inputs from PTI
Note: TNM is not on the ground reporting on the riots. This report has been put together from various news reports.