Death toll in Delhi violence climbs to 13
New Delhi, Feb 25: Smoke billowed in the air and mobs roamed unchecked through the streets, burning shops, pelting stones and threatening locals, as fresh violence tore through northeast Delhi, killing eight more people on Tuesday and taking the toll in the communal clashes over the amended citizenship law to 13.
As tension smouldered in the national capital’s northeast and the sun set over another restive day, violence cut a swathe through several localities, including Chand Bagh and Bhajanpura, with stones and other missiles hurled and shops set ablaze.
Rioters damaged two fire tenders in Gokulpuri and crowds raising incendiary slogans set on fire fruit carts, rickshaws and anything that came in their way in the epicentre of the trouble Maujpur and other places.
With US President Donald Trump also in the city, Delhi Police ramped up security. It fired teargas shells to disperse the rioters — armed with stones, rods and even swords and many wearing helmets to protect themselves — and was assisted by paramilitary personnel.
Streets were littered with mangled remains of vehicles, bricks and burnt tyres, mute testimony to the violence and bloodshed that took on a communal taint on Monday and injured about 180 people, including 48 police personnel.
According to GTB Hospital Medical Superintendent Sunil Kumar, six people were declared brought dead on Tuesday, taking the death toll in 11. At least 35 injured people were also taken to the hospital today.
“Fifty percent of those injured have sustained bullet injuries,” Kumar added.
As the violence continued unabated, police officials said the situation was under control and flag marches were conducted in Bhajanpura, Khajuri Khas and other places.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah convened a meeting with Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Police chief Amulya Patnaik and others to address the situation.
The meeting resolved that workers of political parties should join hands to restore peace and peace committees should be reactivated in all localities.
In scenes not seen in the national capital for decades, frenzied groups thrashed people on the road and vandalised vehicles.
The media also came under attack.
Akshay, a journalist with JK 24X7 News, received a bullet injury and was in a serious condition in hospital, and two reporters from NDTV were beaten and punched by rioters. Many other journalists were heckled and told to go back. Schools were shut and fearful residents stayed indoors as restless crowds roamed the streets, seemingly unmindful of prohibitory orders restricting the assembly of more than four people imposed on Monday.
“There is hardly any police presence in the area. Rioters are running around threatening people, vandalising shops. Families need to be evacuated. We are unsafe in our own homes,” said a resident of Maujpur, requesting anonymity.
Another added that this is the first time in 35 years — possibly since the 1984 anti-Sikh riots — that he has seen a situation such as this. “The area had always remained peaceful,” he told PTI.
Trouble continued through the day.
Around 5 pm in Chand Bagh, for instance, security personnel were pelted with stones. They chased the mob, only to be attacked afresh with some people also armed with petrol bombs.
A few residents in Yamuna Vihar and Jaffrabad told PTI they had seen rioters with swords in their hands.
The 13 killed include Delhi Police head constable Ratan Lal. While Lal died of gunshot wounds, it is still not yet clear what killed the others or who they all were.
Among those killed was Vinod Kumar, a resident of Ghonda who was brought dead to the hospital whose body is at the morgue of the Jag Parvesh Hospital.
Also killed was Mohammad Furkan from Kardampuri, near Jafrabad, who got married in 2014 and has two children. His brother, Mohammed Imran, overcome with grief, said they were both in the handicrafts business.
“He had gone to get some food for his children. Someone told me he had been shot. I couldn’t believe it as I had met him barely an hour earlier. I kept calling him… I then rushed to GTB Hospital where I was told that he is dead,” he told reporters, sobbing inconsolably outside the hospital.
Imran blamed BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s tweet, giving Delhi Police an ultimatum to clear the streets of protesters and saying people would be quiet only until Trump is in India.
“Before that everything was peaceful,” he said.
One person seen brandishing a gun before police on Monday was identified as Shah Rukh. Police said 11 FIRs have been filed.
Kejriwal, who held a meeting with senior officials and MLAs of all parties to discuss the situation, asked people to refrain from violence and said all issues can be dealt with through dialogue.
“Stop this madness,” he said after visiting the injured in GTB Hospital.
“I have met the people who were injured, also met some people who sustained bullet injuries. The biggest concern is to stop the violence. I appeal to everyone to stop the violence,” he said.
Five stations on the Delhi Metro’s Pink Line were closed for the second consecutive day on Tuesday in the wake of the trouble.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Shahdara) Amit Sharma underwent an operation on Monday night for the head injury sustained during the clashes.