In northeast Delhi riots, 87 people shot, 20 lost lives
At least 87 people suffered gunshot wounds in the communal riots that tore through north-east Delhi this week. Of these, at least 20 — including a policeman — succumbed to bullet injuries, investigators said.
Police said no fresh deaths were reported on Saturday from riot-affected areas but a shop was set on fire in the Welcome neighbourhood.
At least 42 people have been killed so far, while more than 450 people have been injured in the communal riots that ravaged the capital from February 23 to 25. Delhi Police had registered 203 cases till Saturday evening.
Of the 203 cases, 24 were of murder, and 36 others were under various sections of the Arms Act. The remaining cases were of rioting, attacking police personnel, arson and damaging properties, the police said.
Meanwhile, the police said they had registered separate cases against 13 social media account holders on various platforms — Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram — for posting provocative contents having potential to trigger communal violence. Police said many such accounts and web links involved in circulation of unlawful and offensive contents were either suspended or their “objectionable” contents were removed.
Two special investigation teams (SITs) probing the communal violence had arrested 39 people, some of them having a criminal background. The police seized 39 firearms, 36 of which were country-made pistols, after raids in various parts of Delhi and adjoining states. 46 cartridges were recovered from the arrested suspects, who, police say, were involved in the communal clashes and were identified with the help of video clips.
The arrest of people with criminal history and the fact that illegal firearms were used, apart from petrol bombs and bottles being stockpiled on terraces of houses in riot-hit areas, made the city police suspect the clashes were not spontaneous.
Officials associated with the SITs said they were probing the role of “outsiders” and some “local gangs”, who could have orchestrated the violence.
Joint commissioner of police (eastern range) Alok Kumar said the investigators were collecting details of cases against the arrested criminals. “We are interrogating the suspects to identify other people who were with them during the violence. More first information reports (FIRs) will be filed and more arrests will be made,” Kumar said.
SN Shrivastava, who on Saturday took charge as acting chief of Delhi Police replacing Amulya Patnaik, said cases of riots and murder were being registered and the strictest possible action would be taken against the culprits so that such incidents do not recur.
“My first priority is to restore peace and bring back the communal harmony in the city. All those involved in the riots will be punished,” said Shrivastava.
Senior police officers said more than 20 teams were conducting raids in Delhi and adjoining states to hunt down people who have been linked to the rampage that also claimed the life of an Intelligence Bureau (IB) staffer, Delhi Police head constable Ratan Lal, and left hundreds of others, including two IPS officers, critically injured.
Suspended Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor from Nehru Vihar, Mohammad Tahir Hussain, who has been linked to the death of IB staffer Ankit Sharma in Chand Bagh, continued to evade arrest on Saturday despite the police claiming to have raided his possible hideouts and questioning many of his relatives and friends in the last two days.
On Saturday, teams of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) visited several Gokalpuri and Bhajanpura and collected evidence . The experts visited the petrol pump that was set on fire by the rioters. On Friday, the teams inspected Hussain’s house in Chand Bagh and the drain from which Sharma’s body was recovered on Wednesday.
“Apart from petrol bombs, empty bottles, stones and bricks, we recovered several pouches containing corrosive substance from Hussain’s house,” said a senior FSL official.
According to the official, the FSL got a call from the police regarding a shop set on fire in Welcome area. “We were asked to come to the spot and collect samples from the burnt shop. Since the area is gripped in tensio, we told the police that our forensic experts would be available on Sunday,” he said.
The police are still looking for one Shahrukh, who on Monday was caught on camera approaching a policeman while pointing a pistol at him and firing across a road divider.