Drones keep a hawk eye in Jahangirpuri, Delhi police chief assures no perpetrator will go scot free

Under fire from political parties over the communal conflagration, Delhi police chief Rakesh Asthana addressed a press conference where he reassured people that nobody involved in the riots, irrespective of "caste, creed and religion", will go scot free.

PTIUpdated: Tuesday, April 19, 2022, 07:28 AM IST
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New Delhi: The Delhi police registered an FIR on Monday against the organisers of a Hanuman Jayanti procession that triggered communal riots in Jahangirpuri on Saturday, while drones kept a hawk eye and police patrolled the streets in the troubled northwest locality of the national capital.

Under fire from political parties over the communal conflagration, Delhi police chief Rakesh Asthana addressed a press conference where he reassured people that nobody involved in the riots, irrespective of "caste, creed and religion", will go scot free.

Two days after the clashes, the Delhi Police admitted the third Hanuman Jayanti procession, organised by Hindu fringe outfits, had not been accorded administrative permission. It also arrested a Muslim man named Sonu who had allegedly fired at police during the mayhem that left nine people, including eight policemen and a civilian, injured.

Altogether 25 people, including two juveniles, have been apprehended so far in connection with the clashes.

A local Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Prem Sharma, an accused in the case, was questioned by police but let off.

According to police, they are scanning more than 200 videos to identify those behind the violence that pushed the national capital on edge.

Asthana said 14 teams have been formed to investigate the April 16 clashes.

Addressing a press conference, Asthana refuted claims about alleged attempts to hoist saffron flags atop a mosque during the Hanuman Jayanti procession.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Northwest) Usha Rangnani said an FIR was registered against the organisers for carrying out a procession without permission. An accused has joined the investigation, she said, adding two such "Hanuman yatra" conducted earlier in the day had the required administrative permission.

Earlier, the DCP had said a case was registered against members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal for taking out a religious procession without permission. A Delhi Police communication also stated that a local VHP leader Prem Sharma was arrested.

However, the statement was later withdrawn citing Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant of the IPC), which is a bailable offence. It said the person, apparently referring to Sharma, who had joined the investigation, was let off after questioning.

The revised statement issued by the police also did not name the VHP and Bajrang Dal.

Meanwhile, security personnel, including many in anti-riot gear, swarmed the streets of Jahangirpuri.

A senior police officer said over 500 personnel from Delhi police besides additional contingents from other forces were patrolling the area. They are armed with teargas guns and water cannons. Drones are being used in sensitive areas for rooftop surveillance.

Normal life was thrown into disarray in the locality with most shops shut.

The usually bustling Kaushal Chowk, lined with carts selling vegetables and fruit, had the forbidding presence of uniformed men carrying guns. Most children did not attend schools, as the entire locality was barricaded.

As Jahangirpuri grappled with tension in the aftermath of the clashes, Asthana insisted no attempt was made to hoist a saffron flag atop a mosque.

Several politicians and social media users had alleged some people tried to unfurl a "bhagwa" flag at a mosque that set off the clashes.

When asked about an allegation by the BJP that one of the arrested accused was linked to the AAP, Asthana refused to comment, insisting "an offender is an offender".

"We go by evidence and not by associations," he said tersely.

Police have arrested 28-year-old Sonu alias Imam alias Yunus, who was seen in videos opening fire during the clash. He is a resident of C-Block in Jahangirpuri.

"A video was being circulated on social media platforms on Sunday showing a man in a blue shirt opening fire during the riots in Jahangirpuri. He has been nabbed by the special staff of northwest district," Rangnani said.

Earlier in the day, the family members of Sonu allegedly attacked a police team, which had gone to question them, with stones.

Delhi BJP leaders have repeatedly alleged that the main accused in the case--Md Ansar-- was linked to the Aam Aadmi Party.

In a letter to AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor demanded that Ansar be expelled from the party.

As the bitter war of recrimination intensified, AAP leader and Delhi minister Satyendar Jain quipped, "I think he (Ansar) must be linked to the BJP since the saffron party knows the inside story."

The Aam Aadmi Party said those involved in the violence must be given the "strictest punishment" and Union Home Minister Amit Shah should take steps to improve the law and order situation in the city.

CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat and the party's Delhi state committee secretary K M Tewari have alleged that the Hanuman Jayanti procession was armed with "swords, lathis and firearms".

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