Seemingly inspired by the Noida violence, a handful of rioters, including juveniles, sent the Delhi Police into a tizzy and held the Okhla industrial area to ransom on Thursday morning.
Panic gripped the industrial hub in southeast Delhi as around 25 to 30 ‘protesters’ engaged in sporadic, guerrilla-type attacks on commercial establishments on the second day of the two-day general strike called by trade unions.
The protesters organised themselves in groups of four to five people and randomly stormed one factory or office at a time. As many as five cars parked outside a ready-made garment factory were damaged by the protesters. Six protesters were arrested on charges of rioting, police said.
“There was no police presence and whatever deployment had been made was no match for the rioters. By the time the police would reach one factory, the vandals would rush to another and then another,” said Shania, 25, an employee at one of the 10 to 15 factories vandalised.
Factory owners said the rioters would suddenly appear outside a particular building — preferably with a glass façade to ensure maximum and visible damage — before disappearing.
“As soon as the police would reach the spot and start making inquiries, all they would find would be stones and shards of glass. This is no way to protest. If they were so violently against us opening up on Wednesday morning, they should have warned us beforehand before engaging in this form of vandalism,” said Vineet Soni, a factory owner.
The trouble began around 11am when a group of 30-odd protestors arrived at Okhla Industrial Area’s phase 1 and started throwing stones and bricks on buildings.
The self-proclaimed workers shouted slogans against the government’s economic policies and pelted stones at buildings located in phase 2 as well. A garment factory and an insurance company in B-block bore the maximum damage.
Fearing repetition of Wednesday’s violence in Noida, people working in factories and company offices immediately stopped work and left for their homes.
Several calls were made to the police control room after which the local police reached the spot. An additional company was deployed to maintain law and order.
The situation was brought under control by 1 pm.