A gunman shot a student near Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi on Thursday during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The gunman fired from his pistol metres away from dozens of policemen, leaving the student, who was identified as Shadab Farooq, injured. The attacker was heard shouting “Yeh lo azaadi [here’s your freedom]” before he injured Farooq. He was taken into custody by the police.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday promised strict action against the gunman while the Opposition said recent provocative comments and “hate speeches” by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders led to the incident. Earlier this week, a viral video emerged in which Union minister Anurag Thakur seemed to encourage a crowd at a poll rally in Delhi to shoot protestors.
The front page of Indian newspapers indicated a link between the attack and the incendiary slogans raised by BJP leaders a few days ago. However, most dailies called the attacker a “lone wolf”.
The Hindustan Times directly called the attack by the “lone wolf” a fallout of the hate speeches. It pointed out how Union minister Anurag Thakur seemed to have encouraged a crowd at a poll rally in Delhi to shoot protestors. The daily also highlighted the role of the Delhi Police who waited until the man fired.
In a separate column, the newspaper scanned the attacker’s social media posts to conclude that radicalisation was written all over them. The front page of the newspaper also clubbed other related news like “Delhi top cop gets 1-month extension” and “Thakur, Verma get EC’s campaign ban”.
The Times of India ran the headline, “On Martyrs’ Day, 17-year-old fires at anti-CAA march in presence of cops”. The newspaper highlighted that the attacker was a minor and that the shooting happened despite the presence of large police force. Though the newspaper refrained from linking the attack with the hate speeches by BJP ministers, it carried the news of Thakur and Parvesh Verma getting an EC ban on its front page.
The Telegraph, however, did not mince words. In a direct message to the prime minister, the newspaper said the “thugs of your new India have transformed Bapu’s immoral ‘Hey Ram’ into ‘Hey Rambhakt’”. The daily juxtaposed a picture of Narendra Modi bowing down to offer his tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on his death anniversary and that of the attacker aiming his gun at protestors as policemen in the background wait and watch. It also directly called the attack a fallout of Thakur’s ‘goli maaro’ slogan.
The Indian Express ran the headline, “2 days after goli maaro...”, linking the attack with Thakur’s speech. The newspaper highlighted how 20 policemen watched the shooting. The daily also scanned the attacker’s Facebook page and highlighted his radical opinions.
“Youth fires at protestors in front of the police,” read the front page headline of Marathi daily Loksatta. The newspaper said that thousands protested against the incident for hours. In a separate box, the daily reported that the Hindu Rashtra Sena shouted slogans at an anti-CAA protest by Urmila Matondkar and Dr Kumar Saptarshi in Pune.
The hindi daily Hindustan ran the headline, “Shameful: ‘sirfira’ [misguided person] shoots at Jamia students”. Another Hindi daily, Dainik Jagran, however, did not carry the news as the top story. The headline read, “Minor opens fire during Jamia march, one injured”. There is no mention that he fired at students, or that he wasn’t a protestor.
Amar Ujala’s front page headline said, “[Shooter] shoots at Jamia’s protesting students, says ‘ye lo azaadi’”. It listed what Home Minister Amit Shah promised after the attack and Chief Minster Arvind Kejriwal’s comments.
Though Mumbai Mirror did not carry a detailed report of the attack on its front page, it ran a banner headline, “Ab toh chronology samajh gaye na?” with a picture of the attacker aiming at the protestors. The headline is in reference to Amit Shah’s famous phrase “Aap chronology samajh lijiye”. Shah had said, “Understand the chronology, first we will bring Citizenship Amendment Bill [CAB] and after that we will bring National Register of Citizens [NRC] and NRC will not only be for Bengal but for the entire country.”