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Home Ministry, political parties urge peace as violence escalates in Delhi

Poornima Joshi A M Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on February 26, 2020 Published on February 25, 2020

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during a high-level meeting to discuss the prevailing situation in the capital after violence in north-east Delhi over the amended citizenship law, in New Delhi on Tuesday.   -  PTI

Fear and anger among anti-CAA protestors who want the man shooting the policeman identified, call for action against Kapil Mishra who made provocative speeches

Violence escalated towards the evening in some North East Delhi localities on Tuesday with rival communities groups clashing over Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) with 13 deaths and at least 150 injured admitted in different hospitals.

Fear and anger boiled over in areas like Jaffrabad where women have led anti-CAA protest for the past one month and the residents strained over police barricades while rival groups chanted slogans from the neighbouring Maujpur during the day. Despite prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC, arson and mob attacks were reported from Chandbagh area, also in North East Delhi.

In a statement from the Union Home Ministry, the Home Minister Amit Shah was quoted as expressing confidence in the Delhi police and appealing to all to desist from spreading rumours, there was extreme anger against BJP leader Kapil Mishra who had threatened the anti-CAA protestors on Sunday that they will be “cleared out if they do not stop the protests”. A group of six lawyers and activists in Jaffrabad have registered an FIR against Kapil Mishra in the local police station. The local BJP MP from the East Delhi constituency Gautam Gambhir too said that “anyone, be it Kapil Mishra or anybody else, who is provoking people should be punished”.

A day-long tour of Jaffrabad revealed that the residents believe that the armed man shooting at a policeman should be identified at the earliest and punished because that has resulted in disaffection and communal polarisation.

“We have been protesting for nearly two months. We have cooperated with the police. We do not want any violence. We want this man who shot at the policeman identified and punished,” said Babboo Mallik, a businessman in Jaffrabad.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressed a meeting of senior officials of the Delhi Police, Home Ministry and the State administration. Shah urged political parties to exercise restraint and to rise above party lines to tackle the situation. Shah said that the borders of Delhi with the states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have been under surveillance for the last three days and Delhi Police has been taking adequate steps, like checks and other precautionary measures in view of the upcoming Supreme Court hearing relating to issues pertaining to Citizenship Law. He said additional forces may be deployed in affected areas, as per requirement and urged political parties to avoid provocative speeches and statements which could flare up the situation.

A release from the Union Home Ministry said Shah expressed confidence in Delhi Police and said that the force has shown maximum restraint to get the situation under control. He appealed to all to desist from spreading rumours, and said political parties should cooperate with police to quell these rumours and dispel fear among public. He also supported the move to re-activate local peace committees and said that such committees should include representatives of all sections of society.

Kejriwal, earlier on Tuesday morning, held an urgent meeting with Ministers, MLAs, officials and other representatives of people on the situation. Talking to reporters after the meeting, he said MLAs of the affected areas informed him that there was a severe shortage of police force. “I have also asked the District Magistrates to take out a peace march with police in these areas. The hospital authorities have been asked to be prepared and provide quality medical aid to the injured. Fire department has been asked to coordinate with the Police and reach the affected areas on time. In the meeting, the MLAs of the border areas said that people are coming from outside. There is a need to seal the borders and do preventive arrests,” the Chief Minister said.

Congress said it will assist the governments’ efforts to restore peace. “This is Gandhi, Nehru, Patel’s India, can any Indian accept this mindless violence? Congress appeals to the people of Delhi to maintain communal harmony and thwart all attempts of the forces dividing the country on the basis of religion,” party spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

CPI(M) leaders Brinda Karat and KM Tiwari said in a letter to Shah that BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s open call for forcibly removing the protesters from various sites led to violence. “Detailed reports and video images are available of the highly provocative and communal slogans given by groups of men armed with lathis and bricks in the areas surrounding the protest sites. A journalist’s account is graphic evidence of the communal nature of the mobilisation by groups to disrupt and attack the protest sites. This has led to violent clashes and retaliatory violence. The image of a man waving a revolver at a police personnel and then firing, later identified as one Shahrukh also shows the involvement of criminal elements in the retaliation,” they said in the letter.

Meanwhile, protestors in Shaheen Bagh told BusinessLine that they are thankful to the Supreme Court for the judicial intervention. “It is the Supreme Court intervention that saved us. Otherwise, we would have been the first target of violence than Jaffrabad,” said a protestor. Protestors reason out that the ongoing judicial mediation between the protestors and the Centre could be the only reason why the pro-CAA crowd spared them.

A leader of the protests told BusinessLine that he fears that the real intention of the riot could be to paint the protests as communal. “We fear that they may crack down on us as soon as Trump’s visit gets over. They want to paint every anti-CAA protest as communal. They will cite the riots to muzzle the protests,” he added.

He added that the protestors are extra vigilant to ensure peace. “After the Jaffrabad riots, support to our protests have strengthened. A number of people from various walks of life have renewed their solidarity for the fight against CAA,” he claimed. The Supreme Court will hear the matter on Wednesday.

Published on February 25, 2020
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