Scores of pro and anti-CAA groups threw stones at each other, attempted to burn down houses and finally fired shots in north-east Delhi’s Maujpur on Tuesday, less than 20 km from the heart of the national capital where Home Minister Amit Shah held a second review meeting with top officials and Delhi politicians.
Rioters from both sides have had a free run for most of the morning in this east Delhi pocket. There had been attempts to burn down a four-storey house from where some residents were throwing stones at one mob, break into another because someone saw a resident trying to capture the arson on his mobile phone video and burn down the motorcycles that they could lay their hands on.
There was some police presence, but it mostly appeared to be a hands-off approach. Except to occasionally turn their focus on the ant-CAA protesters. Their limited success was to keep the mobs from Jafrabad and Maujpur away from each other, by nearly 400 metres.
At about 1.30 pm, one man from the pro-CAA group pulled out a pistol to fire multiple shots at the rival group who were closing in. Some others in the group also pulled out their firearms and fired.
There were some in the anti-CAA group who were armed too and fired multiple rounds.
This was the third day of rioting in and around this locality. But the rioters were better prepared, even more careful. They continued to target journalists trying to record the violence on their mobile phone. One man even snatched this reporter’s notebook and tore away the pages. The arsonists were also better armed, with sticks, rods, hockey sticks and more.
At one spot, the protesters – quite a few women had also joined them – erected a tricolor at an intersection near the Maujpur metro station. An abandoned police jeep was turned into a dump to hide their weapons.
A loudspeaker set up closer to the Maujpur metro station had been relaying provocative messages, at least some of them by a woman who egged on others to take down their rivals. The police didn’t bother to pull the plug on the effort.
Back on Raisina Hill, the seat of the central government, Home Minister Amit Shah’s outreach to the Delhi politicians ended on a consensus. Shah urged political leaders to work with the police and quell the rumours that were being spread.
Senior Delhi Congress Subash Chopra who attended the meeting blamed “inflammatory statements” by politicians for the violence. “These need to stop if the situation is to be controlled,” Chopra said, pointing to Delhi BJP leader Kapil Mishra.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who wanted more police personnel to be deployed, said Amit Shah had accepted the suggestion.
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said all parties had “agreed to rise above politics and ensure the situation is brought under control”.
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