40 tear gas shells missing after R-Day violence, says police report
A quick audit by Delhi Police after the January 26 tractor rally, which subsequently descended into violence and saw protesters fighting pitched battles with security personnel, has found that at least 40 tear gas shells were stolen by rioters in north Delhi’s Burari.
Farmers from Punjab and Haryana had proposed the tractor rally inside the national Capital on Republic Day to protest against the three farm laws passed by the Centre. it was during this rally that violence broke out when the protesting farmers deviated from the pre-approved routes between them and police; assaulted police when they were stopped from entering parts of Central and New Delhi areas. At least 394 police personnel and 10 farmers were injured in the violence.
Police across the city have so far arrested 146 persons, mostly from parts of Punjab and Haryana. Of them, 34 are from Delhi.
Police said they have registered a separate case of robbery and are probing the missing tear gas shells. A senior Delhi police officer, who did not wish to be named, said that all 40 tear gas shells had been traced back to Punjab and a police team has been sent to the state to recover them.
“We even know the district in Punjab where the shells have been hidden. We are coordinating with the Punjab police. We have registered a case of robbery and will recover them at the earliest,” the officer added.
A tear gas shell is used by the riot-control personnel of the police to control mobs who resort to rioting. Along with water cannon and canes, tear gas shells are usually the first line of defence adopted by law enforcement agencies to control unruly crowds.
According to a report filed by police, on the afternoon of January 26, a mob of about 1,000 persons had indulged in rioting near Burari ground and attacked police personnel, when they were stopped from moving towards the Red Fort. Police have said that most people, who later stormed the Red Fort premises — and ransacked offices inside the ASI protected structure, besides damaging the structure inside itself — were part of this Burari mob. The mob in Red Fort had also tried to snatch two guns and 20 bullets from two magazines from two constables there, but were unsuccessful.
Though police did not comment on how the tear gas shells were actually stolen, the report filed just mentions that the shells had gone missing.
Separately, the report also mentions that on January 26 afternoon, three trucks parked on the Burari flyover were also stolen by the mob. The trucks were, however, later recovered .
As part of the probe into the robbery and rioting in Burari, police have so far arrested 14 people. Police have registered a case (FIR number 64) under sections of attempt to murder, rioting, robbery and criminal conspiracy against them.
In the Burari case, all 14 arrested persons are Delhi residents.
A second police officer said investigators are looking at footage from CCTVs and their own video recording to identify those behind the theft of the tear gas shells. On February 13, three men from west Delhi -- Sukhmeet Singh (35), Gundeep Singh (33) and Harvinder Singh (32)- -were arrested for rioting in Burari after their alleged act was caught on tape.