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27 dead in 2 days, 106 arrested; Delhi remains tense

Last updated on: February 27, 2020 00:57 IST

After two days of communal clashes that claimed 27 lives, a brittle quiet settled over parts of riot-hit northeast Delhi on Wednesday but there was violence in some other places with shops set ablaze and the body of an Intelligence Bureau staffer found in a drain.

IMAGE: A woman carrying a child walks past security forces in a riot affected area after clashes erupted between people demonstrating for and against CAA in New Delhi, on Wednesday. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

As police conducted flag marches and security personnel spread out across the northeastern edge of India's national capital in a bid to quell the violence raging since Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first reaction appealed for peace and brotherhood.

 

Asserting that it was important calm was restored at the earliest, Modi said on Twitter, 'Had an extensive review on the situation prevailing in various parts of Delhi. Police and other agencies are working on the ground to ensure peace and normalcy.'

The task of bringing the situation under control was given to National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

IMAGE: A vandalised private school in Shivpuri area of the riot-affected north east Delhi, on Wednesday. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited some riot-hit areas.

"What has happened has happened. Inshallah, there will be complete peace here," he said as he walked through the mostly mixed neighbourhoods and congested lanes of northeast Delhi and met locals.

On Tuesday, he undertook a late night tour with Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik and newly-appointed Special Commissioner S N Shrivastava.

IMAGE: A security personnel conducts patrolling in Maujpur area of the riot-affected north east Delhi, on Wednesday. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Shrivastava's appointment came in the wake of Patnaik facing flak for failing to curb the spiralling violence in the backdrop of United States President Donald Trump's visit, sources said.

The Delhi Police said it has arrested 106 people for their alleged involvement in the violence and have registered 18 first information reports.

IMAGE: Firefighting personnel attempt to douse a blaze in Gokulpuri area of the riot-affected north east Delhi, on Wednesday. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

"No untoward incident was reported on Wednesday and PCR calls from northeast Delhi have reduced," Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Mandeep Singh Randhawa told reporters.

On day three of the trouble, the death toll rose from 13 on Tuesday to 27 on Wednesday.

"The death toll at GTB Hospital has risen to 25," GTB Hospital Medical Superintendent Sunil Kumar said. Unusually, the estimate of more than 200 injured and the dead has come not from the police but hospital authorities.

IMAGE: Charred remains of a vandalised property set ablaze by rioters in Gokulpuri area. The rioters ran amok on streets, burning and looting shops, pelting stones and thrashing people. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Hospital authorities said of the deceased at the GTB, at least nine received gun shots.

One of the deceased is also a woman, authorities said.

Two deaths were also reported on Wednesday at LNJP Hospottal taking the total count of fatalities to 27.

Calling the situation in northeast Delhi alarming, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Army should be called in as police is 'unable' to establish control.

IMAGE: A bridegroom along with relatives heads for his wedding as they walk past Bhagirathi Vihar area. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Sitaram Yechury described the Delhi violence a 'chilling reminder' of the 2002 Gujarat riots and demanded that Army should be called to control the situation.

At the Delhi Legislative Assembly, Kejriwal said the common man of Delhi did not indulge in violence and alleged that outsiders, some politicians and anti-social elements were behind it.

He also announced Rs 1 crore compensation for the family of Rattan Lal, the Delhi Police Head Constable who lost his life in the violence.

IMAGE: Charred remains of vehicles allegedly set ablaze by rioters during communal violence in Shivpuri area. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Kejriwal, along with his deputy Manish Sisodia, later visited the violence-hit areas.

Away from 'leader-speak', fear hung like a heavy cloud over the area, littered with the detritus of a riot -- mangled and charred vehicles, bricks, stones and jagged glass.

The Intelligence Bureau staffer, identified as Ankit Sharma, was found dead in a drain in Chand Bagh where he stayed.

IMAGE: Shopkeepers carry their belongings in a rickshaw after salvaging them from their damaged shops in a riot-affected area. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Sharma may have been killed in stone pelting, officials said.

Shops and schools were closed and many streets deserted with police making announcements that no one should come out of their homes.

Officials said the Central Board of Secondary Education Class 12 English exam on Thursday has been postponed in the northeast and parts of east Delhi in view of the turbulent situation due to violence.

IMAGE: Muslims leave a Hindu dominated locality in a riot-affected area. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

There was heavy deployment of force in Chand Bagh with security personnel not allowing anyone to come out. The blackened walls of a 'mazaar' in the locality spoke volumes of the violence the day before.

In Ashok Nagar, a mosque was vandalised and set on fire by miscreants, a day before.

The shops outside the mosque, belonging to Hindus and Muslims, were also set on fire.

After two days of mobs roaming unchecked through the streets, looting shops and setting property on fire, the uneasy quiet was a respite.
But not everywhere.

IMAGE: Policemen move in a truck in a riot-affected area. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

In Gokulpuri, for instance, smoke darkened the skies with rioters setting on fire shops.

Meharban, in his mid-thirties, was allegedly beaten by a mob in Chand Bagh area and later thrown into the drain.

"I went to buy flour. People there asked whether I was a Muslim and then started thrashing me. They later threw me in the drain of Chand Bagh," he said.

The incident occurred around 2.30 pm. Meharban, who sustained head injuries, could barely talk, was taken to a hospital in a PCR van.

IMAGE: A man walks past damaged vehicles after they were set on fire by a mob in a riot-affected area. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

Their livelihoods lost with their shops looted and their children in a state of panic after witnessing the bloodshed, many people were seen leaving their homes.

Among them was a family that promised to be back, but said they did not know when.

At the GTB Hospital, many grieving family members were waiting to collect the bodies of their dear ones.

Asked if the victims have been identified, he said, "Many people have been identified, some are yet to be."

He, however, declined to divulge the identity of the deceased.

Patients have several kinds of injuries, including from gunshots, stones and other weapons and many were hurt while jumping from rooftops to escape the rioters, hospital authorities said.

The 'gush' of injured patients had reduced to a trickle.

The injured recounted horrific accounts of violence that they witnessed and how they managed to escape the deadly violence.

Districts magistrates of North-East and Shahadra districts accompanied by senior officials of the Revenue Department and the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) were also the hospital to take stock of the situation.

Holding the Centre and the Delhi government responsible for the violence -- perhaps the first time since 1984 that the city has seen such scenes of communal mayhem -- Congress president Sonia Gandhi called for the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah.

"The conspiracy was witnessed during Delhi polls and BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) leaders gave hate speeches creating atmosphere of fear and hatred," she said.

Shah must take responsibility for the violence in Delhi and resign, she said.

The slugfest continued with the Bharatiya Janata Party, in turn, accusing Gandhi of politicising the violence.

IMAGE:People stand next to the wreckage of motorcycles that were set on fire by a mob. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

"Violence is ending. Investigation is on to find out the truth and identify culprits... At such a time, attacking government and politicising violence is dirty politics," said Union minister Prakash Javadekar, adding that it also demoralises police.

That was also a concern of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who asked a Supreme Court bench not to make any adverse observations relating to the violence as it will demoralise the police force.

An apex court bench of justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph lashed out at law enforcing agencies for allowing the 'instigators of violence' to get away and said they should act as per law without waiting for somebody's nod.

"If somebody makes an inflammatory remark, police has to take action," it said.

The Delhi high court also reprimanded Delhi Police.

"... We should never allow another 1984... especially under the watch of the court and under your (Delhi Police) watch... We have to be very, very alert," a bench of justices S Muralidhar and Anup J Bhambhani said.

In a midnight hearing, the Delhi high court directed police to ensure safe passage to government hospitals and emergency treatment for those injured in the communal violence erupted in northeast Delhi over the amended citizenship law.

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