In a repeat of what has happened in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and the capital, the Delhi police have arrested 14 people – all Muslim – in connection with the communal clash broke out in North Delhi’s Jahangirpuri area on the evening of Saturday, April 16, after a Hindutva procession allegedly attempted to hoist and then wave a saffron flag in front of a local mosque. On the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, a procession of Bajrang Dal Members undertaking a Shobha Yatra reportedly reached the mosque in Jahangirpuri’s Block C at 5 pm, when the incident took place.
AajTak had this report on the violence from eye-witnesses where the chronology of the aggression clearly shows that it was the aggressive Hindutva mob that disturbed peace and harmony by attempting to enter the Jama Masjid at Jahangirpuri. Turned away by an angry lot of Muslim youth they returned with the police and again attempted desecration and attack.
NDTV also interviewed the neighbour of one of those arrested. “Ansar and family have been living here for 12 years and they’ve never indulged in any kind of violence. They have always helped us”: Kamlesh Gupta, main accused Ansar’s neighbour.
#JahagirpuriViolence | “Ansar and family have been living here for 12 years and they’ve never indulged in any kind of violence. They have always helped us”: Kamlesh Gupta, main accused Ansar’s neighbour pic.twitter.com/6yWbJtnxam
— NDTV (@ndtv) April 17, 2022
According to another by NDTV, nine people were injured during the scuffle, including eight police officers and one civilian. Sub-inspector Medhalal Meena, one of the officers injured, reportedly suffered a gunshot wound to his hand.
The Wire reported resident of the area Salman Khan who said, “The mob with members of the Bajrang Dal went outside the mosque and tried to wave the saffron flag there. They were also dancing to loud music.” “The shopkeepers in the area tried to stop the mob,” Khan continued, “while a few women got involved and asked the mob to go away. This turned violent where a few people were injured.”
“But the Delhi police took the matter into their hands immediately and made the mob leave. The situation is peaceful at the moment,” he added. The incident reportedly involved stone-pelting from both sides and even gunshots fired from a country-made pistol. Some vehicles were reportedly set ablaze during the incident.
“Things escalated and both communities started pelting stones at each other. They damaged public property and torched some vehicles,” a senior police officer said.
The Wire also reported that Ganesh, another local resident who was sitting with Khan said that the violence broke out primarily on the main road, where the procession was taking place. “There was a mob that tried to do something outside a mosque but the police stopped it immediately. The local shopkeeper outside the mosque tried to stop the mob, which turned into a clash. But that happened outside the road. The situation is peaceful now,” Ganesh said.
A member of a fact-finding team consisting of members of the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) and civil society members told The Wire Shobha Yatra procession had began early on Saturday and had remained relatively peaceful. However, in the evening, at the time of iftar, the procession had refused to move beyond the mosque and allegedly brandished saffron flags and began yelling communal slurs at those at the mosques, sparking the row.
So far, 14 people have been arrested and police have said that additional suspect have been identified on the basis of CCTV footage and videos uploaded to social media.
A first information report (FIR) has been lodged in the matter under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 147 and 148 (rioting and rioting armed with a deadly weapon); Section 149 (offences by an unlawful assembly in prosecution of a common goal); Section 186 (voluntarily obstructing a public servant in the discharge of their public functions); Section 353 (assaulting a public servant); Section 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant); Section 307 (attempt to murder) and more, as well as Section 27 of the Arms Act (punishment for using arms).
According to the FIR, the incident kicked off when one Mohammed Aslam (who is among those arrested) began arguing with the Hanuman Jayanti procession, after which stone-pelting, fighting and violence ensued. While it is being reported in the media that Aslam is 22 years of age, his birth certificate, provided to The Wire by his family, shows that he is merely 16.
According to the police, Aslam fired the bullet that injured sub-inspector Meena and a country-made pistol was confiscated from him. However, Aslam’s sister-in-law, while speaking to The Wire, alleged that Aslam was at home when the incident took place and refuted the allegations that he fired shots during the incident.
Moreover, she claimed that Aslam was not allowed even to get dressed when the police arrest him and that she was manhandled by the officers when they did so, saying that the family has suffered throughout the night of April 16.
As document accessed by The Wire on the medical examination performed on all accused, show that all 14 individuals who have been arrested are Muslim.
Heavy police deployment had been present in the area since Saturday night and personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) have reportedly been deployed since Sunday morning to maintain peace and keep the situation under control.
Following the incident, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to call for peace in the region. Kejriwal has also reportedly been in contact with Delhi lieutenant governor (LG) Anil Baijal who said that all the necessary steps were being taken and that those guilty would “not be spared”, according to Dainik Jagran.
Spoke to Hon’ble LG. He assured that all steps are being taken to ensure peace and that guilty will not be spared. https://t.co/AMXEatbsub
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) April 16, 2022
Appealing to the public not to pay heed to “rumours and fake news” on social media, Delhi police commissioner Rakesh Asthana also took to Twitter, saying that additional force has been deployed in Jahangirpuri as well as other “sensitive areas”.
In today’s incident in NW District, the situation is under control. Adequate additional force has been deployed in Jahangirpuri & other sensitive areas. Senior officers have been asked to remain in field and closely supervise the law & order situation & undertake patrolling. 1/2
— CP Delhi #DilKiPolice (@CPDelhi) April 16, 2022
Strict action will be taken against rioters.
Citizens are requested to not to pay heed to rumours and fake news on social media. (2/2)#Jahangirpuri
— CP Delhi #DilKiPolice (@CPDelhi) April 16, 2022
Meanwhile, Union home minister Amit Shah reportedly met with Asthana as well as the special police commission (law and order) to get updated on the situation and told them to take all action necessary.
Several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including Manoj Tiwari and Kapil Mishra, have alleged that the incident was a “conspiracy”. Mishra even said that today’s incident was a ‘terror act’, according to a report by India TV.
The Jahangirpuri incident has come on the back of a spate of recent bouts of targeted communal violence from across the country, the most recent of which are the dozen attacks all over the country reported after April 10.