How violence unfolded on Delhi streets during anti-CAA protests in Jafrabad
When a lean young man landed amid a violent mob on the Jafrabad main road on Monday afternoon, it didn’t take the gathering — carrying out demonstrations in support of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act — long to realise he did not belong to their camp.
As soon as uttered his name, one that is common among Muslims, the mob pounced on him with iron rods, sticks and stones.
For the next few minutes, they assaulted him. At first, a single policeman attempted to rescue him before more cops joined in to shield the victim as the attack bordered on a lynching. When the mob refused to relent despite their interventions, the police resorted to a mild lathi-charge -- by now, the man’s face was smashed with streaks of blood running down his face.
A few metres away, a taxi inadvertently landed on the riot-hit road. The mob chased the cab, brought it to a halt, forced open the doors and almost managed to drag the occupants out when some people stepped in to rescue them and send them away.
A dozen policemen stood a few metres away, watching.
Minutes earlier, on the opposite carriageway, four buildings were set ablaze by the mob that used torches, burning slippers and balls made of cloth to set off fires after their attempts to break shutters failed.
Each successful attempt at torching the buildings was met with loud claps and religious and political chants.
Dozens of policemen around did nothing to disperse this mob.
The crowd moved away only when the heat from the burning buildings became unbearable.
For a long while, the two rival camps — one supporting the CAA and another against — near the Maujpur-Babarpur Metro station pelted stones at each other. When they failed to hit each other, they resorted to pelting stones at the panes of buildings around them. Afterwards, they brought down banners and hoardings of local businesses and tore them to shreds.
Some distance from this mob stood Vijay Pawar, a resident of Shamli in Uttar Pradesh, holding a pro-CAA placard as patriotic songs played in the vicinity. He had injuries to his hands and a leg. “I came from Shamli on Sunday to protest against the road blockade. I’ll be here till all roads in Delhi are cleared,” said Pawar, adding that he was hit by stones multiple times.
In the streets adjacent to the Jafrabad main road, people belonging to rival camps guarded their entrances. Most people remained indoors while the younger ones took positions.
“A mob had barged into our homes and attacked us around 1.30am. We cannot take any chances,” said Sahil, a resident.
He was accompanied by a neighbour who had deep gashes on his thigh, allegedly inflicted with a sword, when he visited the main road in the afternoon.
“In the morning, a mob had forced me to chant a religious slogan and smeared paste on my forehead,” said the man who would neither identify himself, nor visit a hospital for fear of being booked by the police.
On the main road, meanwhile, whenever policemen appeared to crack down on the mob around them, they were met with chants of ‘Delhi Police Zindabad’.
Alok Kumar, joint commissioner of police (eastern range), said “The police used tear gas and batons effectively, to ensure the situation did not escalate or turn communal.”