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Delhi violence toll up to 42, some signs of normalcy

Last updated on: February 28, 2020 21:16 IST

The death toll in Delhi's communal violence rose to 42 on Friday as the situation showed some signs of returning to normalcy and clouds of smoke cleared to reveal the extent of the damage from the worst riots in the city in over three decades.

IMAGE: Security personnel patrol on a street following clashes over the amended citizenship law at Mustafabad in northeast Delhi. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

As people gingerly stepped out for work and opened shops and other establishments in northeast Delhi, anxiety escalated outside the Guru Teg Bahadur hospital where people waited outside the mortuary to receive the bodies of their loved ones.

Police and paramilitary personnel also maintained a strict vigil in view of the Friday prayers at mosques.

 

The maulvis of the mosques in riot-hit areas appealed for peace and harmony and put out announcements asking people not to fall prey to rumours and cooperate with police.

The GTB hospital has recorded 38 deaths, the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash hospital three, while the Jag Pravesh Chandra hospital reported one death, officials said.

Delhi Police spokesperson Mandeep Singh Randhawa, however, maintained that the death toll stood at 38.

Randhawa told reporters that a total of 148 FIRs were registered and 630 people were either arrested or detained so far.

IMAGE: Security personnel inspect the riot-hit areas in northeast Delhi's Bhagirathi Vihar. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

"No untoward incident was reported today(Friday)," he said, adding prohibitory orders were relaxed for 10 hours in several areas.

He said forensic science laboratory teams have been called in and the crime scenes are being revisited.

More than 250 people have been injured in the communal clashes over the amended citizenship law, police said, amid reports that one in every three victims suffered bullet injuries.

IMAGE: A slingshot believed to have been used to hurl brickbats is seen tied to a railing in the backdrop of charred remains of vehicles set ablaze by rioters in Shiv Vihar area of northeast Delhi. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

The areas mainly affected include Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Chand Bagh, Khajuri Khas and Bhajanpura.

While civic workers swept the streets and bylanes of northeast Delhi littered with bricks, broken glass and other detritus of three days of communal clashes, some shopkeepers sorted through the charred remains of their vandalised and burnt shops.

Shops and other establishments opened in some places and more private vehicles were seen on roads.

IMAGE: A shopkeeper sorts through the charred remains of a vandalized and burned shop at Khajuri Khas extension area of northeast Delhi. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Autos and e-rickshaws also began plying in some areas as people stepped out of their homes to get back to work or catch up on essential errands.

Officials also said they were making extra efforts to quell rumours, and were holding regular flag marches and interactions in the neighbourhoods of affected areas as confidence-building measures.

"My job will be to ensure people feel safe and also that police is there for them," said senior IPS officer S N Shrivastava, who will take over as Delhi police commissioner from Sunday.

IMAGE: East Delhi Municipal Corporation workers clear brick-bats lying on a road following Tuesday's violence over new citizenship law at Khajuri Khas area of northeast Delhi. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

He said 331 peace meetings have been held in the affected areas over the last two days.

Shrivastava was repatriated from the Central Reserve Police Force and appointed as the special commissioner (law and order) of Delhi Police earlier this week when the violence started.

IMAGE: Forensics investigate the premises of suspended Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain's house following clashes over new citizenship law at Karawal Nagar in northeast Delhi. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Nearly 7,000 paramilitary personnel have been deployed in the affected areas since Monday. Hundreds of Delhi Police personnel are also on the ground to maintain peace.

As survivors struggled to come to grips with the violence, victims recounted tales of horror.

IMAGE: People leave their houses following clashes at Brij Puri area. Photograph: PTI Photo

"We jumped from the first floor with dupattas wrapped around our bodies to save ourselves," said a 45-year-old woman at Al-Hind Hospital, recalling how she and her two daughters were forced to flee their home after a mob allegedly barged in and molested them.

The nightmare on Wednesday night ended only after the three entered a Muslim-dominated lane.

"I was at home when a mob barged in. I and my two daughters were molested and our clothes torn by the mob," the woman, who runs an NGO in Karawal Nagar, claimed with tears in her eyes.

IMAGE: People take refuge at a residence in Chaman Park area of Mustafabad. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

The Delhi Police also initiated an "outreach programme" as part of which its officials met imams and maulvis of mosques

The exercise was carried by senior officials outside mosques in Kardampuri and Kabir Nagar.

These areas witnessed pitched battles between two communities for three days from Monday.

During the meeting, senior police officers were briefed about the recent riots.

IMAGE: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy CM Manish Sisodia address a press conference in New Delhi. Photograph: Arun Sharma/PTI Photo

The policemen posted in these areas briefed senior officials that people of these two areas, which witnessed large scale violence from Tuesday, have been generally peaceful and claimed it was the "outsiders" from adjoining areas such as Seelampur and Jaffrabad who indulged in violence.

Senior police officials were asked to take stock of the situation, especially keeping in mind that it was a Friday and some miscreants may take advantage of large gatherings to engineer an unrest again, they said.

The senior officials assured that police will take every action against the miscreants and ensure safety of locals.

IMAGE: Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal interacts with locals during inspection at an area in northeast Delhi. Photograph: PTI Photo

After a visit to Jaffrabad, one of the worst affected areas, National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma said the situation is peaceful but there is "tension in the air".

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Delhi government has set up nine shelters for the riot-affected people and is distributing food among them.

Addressing a news conference, he said the government has started distributing Rs 25,000 in cash, as part of compensation, to those whose houses have been burnt during the violence.

IMAGE: A woman stands near charred remains of vandalised property set ablaze by rioters during communal violence over the amended citizenship law in northeast Delhi. Photograph: Arun Sharma/PTI Photo

For assistance of the violence-hit people, Kejriwal said the government has appointed 18 magistrates and four night magistrates.

Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal visited the riot-affected areas to take stock of the situation and interacted with locals.

Baijal visited Maujpur, Jaffrabad and Gokulpuri, an official said.

He was accompanied by senior police officers.

This is his first visit to the riot-hit areas. 

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