New Delhi: A head constable was among four people killed and at least 50 others, including several paramilitary and Delhi Police personnel, were injured on Monday as violence flared up once again over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Northeast Delhi.
This was the second day of clashes in Delhi where United States President Donald Trump arrived on Monday evening on the main leg of his visit, after landing in Ahmedabad earlier in the day and then proceeding to Agra.
The police have imposed section 144 of the CrPC, which prohibits assembly of four or more people, in areas affected by violence in northeast Delhi.
Several areas in Northeast Delhi resembled a battlefield, with frenzied protesters setting ablaze houses, shops, vehicles and a petrol pump, and hurling stones.
The police fired tear gas shells and resorted to lathicharge as clashes broke out between groups protesting and in support of the CAA at Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Chandbagh, Khureji Khas and Bhajanpura. Security personnel conducted flag marches and prohibitory orders were imposed to bring the situation under control.
Ratan Lal, a 42-year-old head constable attached to the office of the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in Gokalpuri, died after sustaining injuries during stone-pelting there.
Three other civilians succumbed to their injuries suffered in the clashes, said a Delhi government official, adding that 50 people with injuries had come to the GTB Hospital for treatment.
At least 11 police personnel, including Shahdara Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Amit Sharma and Gokalpuri ACP Anuj Kumar were injured while trying to quell the protests. Two CRPF police personnel were also injured, said sources.
Government sources said the violence appears to have been “orchestrated” by some for publicity as it comes during Trump’s visit. They said Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik was stationed at the police control room and closely monitoring the situation.
On Monday evening, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the situation was fully under control and sufficient forces were deployed on the ground. Officials said at least eight companies (100 personnel each) of central armed police were present on the ground, besides the Delhi Police.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said all private and government schools in Northeast Delhi district will remain closed on Tuesday in the wake of the violence.
The Centre, meanwhile, warned of stern action against those involved in the violence. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said non-violent protests in a democratic country are acceptable but not violence which, he termed, was an attempt to dent India's image during Trump's visit.
Roads strewn with stones and glass
The violence-affected areas witnessed several rounds of stone-pelting from pro- and anti-CAA protesters and roads were seen strewn with bricks, stones and glass shards.
In Maujpur, protesters pelted stones and at least three vehicles were torched. Even closed shops were vandalised and at least one house was set on fire.
A protester fired multiple rounds in air as a policeman was seen trying to stop him. The man was later identified as Shahrukh.
Pro-CAA protesters were also seen gheraoing and assaulting a man at Maujpur. Blood was oozing from his head, while some of the attackers raised provocative slogans.
A petrol pump and two school buses were torched at Bhajanpura-Yamuna Vihar border during the rampage by the protestors.
Police chased and hit at least four young men with batons near a footbridge on one side of the road, where dozens of personnel were deployed in anti-riot gear. At least half a dozen youths were also picked up in a truck by the police.
Another identified man was chased down and assaulted as he ran to escape the mob at an intersection under the Gokulpuri flyover at around 6.30 pm.
Vehicular traffic remained restricted on road number 59, which leads to Bhajanpura on one side and Ghaziabad via Gokulpuri flyover on the other side, causing inconvenience to commuters and locals, including students.
At Bhajanpura Chowk, a fire tender was damaged by the protesters after it responded to an emergency call in the area.
Violence had occurred on Sunday also over the amended citizenship law near Jaffrabad over blocking of the road by anti-CAA protesters , while similar sit-ins were launched in several other parts of the national capital including Hauz Rani.
Leaders react to violence
The situation had escalated after BJP leader Kapil Mishra called a gathering on Sunday. Mishra demanded that police remove the anti-CAA protesters within three days. Later on Monday, he appealed for peace.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the Centre to restore law and order in the national capital. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said he has instructed the Delhi Police Commissioner to ensure the situation is brought under control.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi condemned the violence and urged people to show restraint, compassion and understanding irrespective of the provocation. He said peaceful protests are a sign of a healthy democracy, but violence can never be justified.
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said the death of a Delhi Police head constable was a "ploy" to embarrass India during Trump's visit and likened it to the massacre of Sikhs in Chattisinghpura in 2000 during the then US president Bill Clinton's trip to the country.
The Delhi Metro has closed entry and exit at the Jaffrabad, Maujpur-Babarpur, Shiv Vihar, Gokulpuri, Johri Enclave stations as violence prevailed in the area. The entry and exit of Central Secretariat, Patel Chowk and Udyog Bhawan were shut for nearly an hour.
(With inputs from agencies)