Twenty persons were arrested after violence broke out in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri on Saturday after members of Hindu and Muslim communities clashed during a Hanuman Jayanti procession, reported ANI. Two juveniles were also apprehended in connection with the case.
One of the arrested persons had allegedly opened fire.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East) Usha Rangnani confirmed the arrests and added that nine people – eight police officers and a civilian – were injured. “One sub-inspector sustained a bullet injury,” Rangnani said. “His condition is stable.”
Three firearms and five swords were recovered from the accused persons, she added.
All the arrested persons are Muslims. When India Today asked Special Commissioner of Police Deepak Pathak why the arrested persons were from one community, he said that “more action will be taken later”.
The Delhi Police have lodged a first information report on charges of rioting, attempt to murder and Arms Act, reported NDTV. Ten teams from the Crime Branch and Special Cell have been formed to investigate the incident.
In the FIR, the police said that four or five people started arguing with the participants of the procession after it stopped near a mosque, according to Bar and Bench. This led to both sides throwing stones that caused a stampede.
The FIR said that the police intervened and separated both groups but minutes later they again started throwing stones and shouting slogans. The police officer at the site then asked for more security to be deployed, who then used around 40-50 tear gas grenades to control the situation.
The police claimed that the act of the some throwing stones and firing led to the communal riots, according to the FIR. A scooter and a few other vehicles were set on fire by the mob.
Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana told NDTV that the police were monitoring the situation and two companies of Rapid Action Force have been deployed in and around Jahangirpuri.
In a series of the tweets, the police commissioner said senior officers were patrolling the area.
“Strict action will be taken against rioters,” he tweeted. “Citizens are requested to not to pay heed to rumours and fake news on social media.”
A resident named Mastan claimed that participants of the procession shouted slogans such as “Bharat mein rehna hoga toh Jai Shri Ram kehna hoga [if you want to live in India, you have to chant Deity Ram’s name]”.
Mastan alleged that some people carrying saffron flags tried to enter a mosque. He also alleged that the violence escalated because there is not much police presence in the area.
Taxi driver Ajay Kumar told The Indian Express that he sustained injuries on his leg.
“I had come to check on my parents when I heard news of a clash,” Kumar told the newspaper. “There was fierce stone-pelting, and while I managed to escape from the area, my Swift Dzire car was destroyed by the mob. How will I earn my living now?”
Rakesh, a participant of the rally, alleged that the procession was moving peacefully when stone-pelting started and they retaliated.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has directed Asthana and Delhi Police’s Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Dependra Pathak to take necessary action and handle the matter sensitively.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal condemned the violence and demanded action against those involved in the violence. “Appeal to everyone to hold each others’ hands and maintain peace,” he tweeted.
In another tweet, the chief minister said that he has spoken to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. “He [Baijal] assured that all steps are being taken to ensure peace and that guilty will not be spared,” Kejriwal tweeted.
The incident follows similar clashes on April 10 across the country during Ram Navami processions. Two people had died and several others injured in the violence that broke out in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Goa.
On the same day, clashes had broken out at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University allegedly over meat being served in a hostel mess on Ram Navami.
On April 2, communal clashes had broken out in a Muslim-dominated area of the city after a motorcycle rally passed through it, allegedly playing communally-charged songs, on Nav Samvatsar, the first day of the Hindu new year.