Accusations fly as a sleepy locality wakes up to violence
Locals take on police who struggle to keep situation under control; 14 security personnel hurt. Jatin Anand reports.delhi Updated: Jan 16, 2012 00:05 IST
An usually quiet locality just a stone's throw away from the Jor Bagh metro station and the Safdurjung flyover, the BK Dutt colony, became the epicentre of spontaneous violence on Sunday evening.
Stones and tear gas shells flew as a police contingent, sandwiched between hundreds of devotees gathered both inside and outside the Karbala grounds, scrambled to keep the situation under control.
"Close to two dozen policemen found themselves between two crowds — one crowd pelting stones at them from inside the grounds and the other pushing at them from the outside. Suddenly, we heard an explosion and then a stampede occurred which sent the police crashing down on the road," said Vivek Sarkar, 35, a resident of the area.
While some residents claimed that the potted plants outside their homes were ground to dust, stones from the violent crowd even ended up damaging plastic water tanks installed atop some terraces.
Others claimed to have had near-death experiences as they locked themselves inside their homes and a 'mini-war' unfolded before their eyes.
"As the officers fell, a tear gas shell, which seemed to have been fired by mistake, erupted from between the crowd and landed against a pavement. Someone just picked it up and flung it at the police contingent on the opposite side of the street but it ended-up inside a car after breaking through its windshield," said Rakesh Malhotra (name changed on request).
Police claimed, 14 officers — 10 from the Delhi Police and including the area Assistant Commissioner of Police, the additional SHO, an inspector, four head constables, and three constables, and four officials of the CRPF — suffered injuries.
They were rushed to Safdurjung Hospital.
"It is a shame that the police chose to treat devotees gathered here to condole the great Hussain with such contempt. They should not have fired. They have arrested two of our children - we request them to let them go," said Mohammad Asif, an MLA from Okhla on a stage erected inside the grounds.
"Our brothers did nothing wrong. Police first picked on them then they wanted to kill them," said Qasim, 23.
Amulya Patnaik, joint CP (southern range) maintained only two to three tear gas shells had been lobbed.
"No one was detained let alone arrested. There was a disturbance initially but we communicated with the other side and things were normalized," Patnaik said.