New Delhi: Fourteen people, including the ”main conspirators”, were arrested over the violence in northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, where an uneasy calm prevailed on Sunday as companies of anti-riot police patrolled the streets and people mostly stayed indoors.
To cool tensions, the Delhi Police held a meeting with members of Aman (peace) Committees, and asked them to counter any rumours and appeal to people in their areas to maintain peace.
Adarsh Nagar BJP Councillor Garima Gupta blamed illegal Bangladeshi immigrants for the violence and tried to raise the issue during the meeting. But, the police officer in the meeting told her she was digressing from the issue, she said.
Eight police personnel and a local were injured in stone-pelting and arson after clashes broke out between two communities in Jahangirpuri during a Hanuman Jayanti procession on Saturday evening. Some vehicles were also torched.
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Security has been beefed up in and around C and D blocks. Barricades have been put up and police personnel deployed every 200 meters, police said.
While some members of the two communities alleged that actions of the other side triggered the violence, a few locals said the two communities have been living in the area peacefully for decades and blamed ”outsiders” for the violence.
BJP demanded a probe into the role of ”illegal immigrants” in the incident and blamed the ”ideology of appeasement” pursued by previous governments over the last 70 years for communal riots across the country.
On the other hand, Congress accused those in power of lacking empathy and called on Delhiites to stay united.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Northwest) Usha Rangnani said an FIR was registered on Saturday under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 147 (rioting) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under the Arms Act.
Fourteen people have been arrested in connection with the FIR, she said.
One of the arrested accused, Md. Aslam, fired a bullet that hit a Delhi Police sub-inspector. The pistol used by him has been recovered from his possession, the DCP said, adding that he has also been found to be involved in a previous case.
The injured are being treated at Babu Jagjeevan Ram Memorial Hospital. The condition of the sub-inspector who received the bullet injury is stated to be stable, Rangnani said.
One of the ”main conspirators” behind the violence, Ansar (35), a resident of Jahangirpuri, was also found to be involved in two cases of assault and arrested a few times under preventive sections, she said.
Deependra Pathak, Special Commissioner (Law and Order-Zone 1) said efforts are being made to identify other accused through CCTV and other video footage.
”Right now, the situation is totally under control. We have our additional force deployed here. We have done peace committee meetings and are also in touch with the prominent residents of the areas. They gave assurances that they would maintain peace in their respective areas,” he said.
”Drones and facial recognition software are being used to identify those involved in creating the ruckus. All mobile footage and CCTV cameras installed in and around the vicinity are being scanned to identify the culprits and trace them,” he added.
There was a heavy police deployment in C Block, the epicentre of the communal clash. Shops near the mosque in C Block remained shut.
Mukesh, a shopkeeper who stays near the mosque, said those who tried to disrupt peace in the area must have been ”outsiders”.
”I have been staying here for the last 35 years but have never seen such violence in this area. Hindus and Muslims live here peacefully. People who were part of the procession must have been outsiders and not locals,” he said.
Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters here, party spokesperson Sambit Patra said the clashes in Jahangirpuri are under investigation and all should wait for the outcome.
He also hit out at opposition leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, over their joint statement expressing deep concern over the recent incidents of hate speech and communal violence, saying this ”selective politics” is ”harmful” for the country.
Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala urged the people of Delhi to take it upon themselves to stay united and alert.
”Delhi be alert..Delhi be safe…Delhi stay united.
”Violence, riots and frenzy will not make religion ‘safe’, neither will anyone be strong, yes, our India will definitely become weak,” Surjewala said.
He accused those in power of lacking empathy.
A delegation of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) met Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana and submitted a memorandum demanding that culprits be identified and strict action be taken against them.
According to a memorandum handed over to Asthana by the VHP delegation, the right-wing group said if the Delhi Police was not capable of providing adequate security, then Bajrang Dal members, who were part of Saturday’s procession, would have to make their own security arrangements.
Saturday’s clash was the first communal flare-up in the national capital since the February 2020 riots in northeast Delhi which had left over 50 dead and scores injured.