A petrol bomb was hurled by an unidentified person on Sunday at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh locality, where hundreds of women have peacefully protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens at Shaheen Bagh for over three months, PTI reported. On Sunday, reports said only a handful of women congregated at Shaheen Bagh.
This came as the citizens across India observed a nationwide 14-hour shutdown or “janata curfew” recommended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
No one was injured in the incident, which took place around 9.30 am.
Police suspect the attack was due to an internal feud between the protestors over calling off the demonstration, according to The Indian Express.
“We doused the fire and found 5 petrol bombs lying near the barricades,” Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Kumar Gyanesh said. “The protestors weren’t hurt. Prima facie it was one of the protestors who hurled the bombs. There have been clashes amongst the protestors regarding the protest since yesterday. Last night, we received a call about a fight there and had to intervene. Due to the coronavirus scare, few of the protesters want to call off the sit-in protest while others debated and they fought with each other.”
The organisers of the protest also said that there have been internal clashes over the coronavirus spread. “The protesters have been fighting with each other and debating whether to call off the protest or continue the sit-in,” an unidentified organiser told the newspaper. “Last night, after a heated argument, a few protesters fought, police were called. Today, petrol bombs were hurled, we too suspect that it could be one of the protesters or locals living nearby.”
Police said they are checking the CCTV footages of the area for detailed investigation in the matter.
On Monday, the Delhi government had banned gatherings of more than 50 persons – including ongoing protests – till March 31 to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 infection. After initially defying the order, the protestors at Shaheen Bagh on Tuesday said they will limit the number of people at the sit-in to less than 50. The volunteers also said that necessary arrangements such as thermal scanners and masks for demonstrators are being made to avoid the spread of infection.
The Shaheen Bagh protest, which has been going on since December 15, has become the epicentre of protests against the amended citizenship law and the proposed National Register of Citizens. The protest has been challenged in the Supreme Court by petitioners claiming that the demonstrators have blocked traffic.
The Delhi Police has also appealed to the protestors at Shaheen Bagh to end their demonstration. Police held a meeting with a group of protestors, along with members of the Resident Welfare Association of Shaheen Bagh and Abul Fazal Enclave, to persuade the demonstrators to call off their sit-in in light of the pandemic.