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Seven cops hurt as Delhi mob pelts stones upon being denied cross-border entry

By Pavneet Singh Chadha and Dhananjay Jha, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAY 20, 2020 10:57 PM IST

At least seven policemen were injured after a large group of people, mostly factory workers, allegedly pelted stones at them after being denied entry to the city through the Salapur (Delhi) border in Palam Vihar on Wednesday morning. Over 1,070 people were booked and three arrested, the police said.

The police said the stone-pelting went on for around 25 minutes, during which additional force was deployed and the situation was brought under control. Senior police officials also reached the spot.

The workers and residents of Salapur Khera village, however, alleged that police had charged at them with their canes after denying them entry and tearing up the movement passes issued by their companies. The police have refuted these allegations.

Salapur is located in Delhi, adjoining Sector 21 of Gurugram. The route that is currently being used has been cut through vacant plots of the sector. The incident comes exactly a week after residents of Sector 21, on May 14, sought stricter vigil by the police at the porous border, over concerns of spread of Covid-19.

According to the police, a large crowd of at least 1,000 people — mostly daily wage earners working in private companies in the industrial hub of Udyog Vihar — had gathered on foot and cycles at the Salapur border around 8.30am, demanding entry into the city via Sector 21, a residential sector developed by the Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) over two decades ago.

The police said when the workers were stopped, they started sloganeering and anti-social elements incited the crowd to pelt stones.

Rajender Kumar, station house officer, (SHO), Palam Vihar police station, said, “We tried to aggressively push the crowd back, but they started pelting stones at the police. The workers were supported by village residents. An additional force of 50 policemen was called in and the situation was brought under control. This is not a legal route for commuting. We had deployed police at Salapur border after complaints from residents, and after the Haryana government issued instructions to seal interstate borders on May 1.”

“This is not a legal route for commuting. Attaining a movement pass does not imply that one can commute through inter-state borders on a daily basis. After crossing the border with a movement pass, it is the responsibility of the employers to make arrangements for the stay of workers within the state. We have communicated the same to employers,” said Kumar.

One of the persons named in the FIR, who works in a private company in Manesar, said that he was beaten with a stick. “I was on my way to work when police stopped me. So, I decided to return. Suddenly a policeman charged towards me and assaulted me with a stick,” he said, adding that he sustained a shoulder injury.

The police denied that he was beaten up and said that they were investigating.

In a video circulated on an instant messaging application, several people, standing in a narrow lane of Salapur Khera village, are seen hurling stones and bricks at the police. Some of the people can be heard saying, “Don’t throw stones. Let’s just talk.” A policeman is also seen throwing stones at the protesters, which was denied by police officials.

In another such video, at least two police officials can be seen hitting the workers with a cane as police push them back.

The police department said they are yet to establish the authenticity of the videos.

The workers alleged that police had stopped them despite them having requisite passes. They alleged that a pregnant woman was also assaulted. Shakuntala Devi, a worker, said, “Police stopped us from entering the city and when we protested, they assaulted a woman and then workers pelted the stones. She had to be rushed to the hospital.”

Police denied the allegations as ”hearsay”. SHO Kumar said, “No woman was assaulted in the incident by the police.”

A sub-inspector from the Kapashera police station in Delhi, the police station under whose jurisdiction Salapur Khera falls, said that they had not received any complaint of a woman being assaulted from the village.

A police official privy to the investigation, requesting anonymity, said, “Seven policemen sustained minor injuries. They were protected by the cane shields. In the FIR, six people have been mentioned by name and 1,070 are unidentified.”

In the FIR, police said that over 900 men and 170 women had allegedly attacked them after argument over passage through the border. Police also said that the window panes of a police vehicle were shattered during the stone-pelting.

Residents of Sector 21 have repeatedly demanded that the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) build a wall at the periphery and block the route permanently.

Shashipal Yadav, the president of Sector 21 residents’ welfare association (RWA), said, “Sector 21 shared a long peripheral boundary wall with Salapur until five years ago. The boundary wall was broken at places by Salapur residents to make illegal routes. The MCG is aware of the issue. We have demanded by writing letters to raise a wall and block illegal routes.”

Vinay Pratap Singh, the MCG commissioner, said, “The MCG took cognizance of the offence and issued instructions to field officials to inspect the site and take action, including raising a boundary wall, if needed. Walls are being raised to block the movement of people through this route.”

A case was registered against the accused persons under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Disaster Management Act at Palam Vihar police station on Wednesday, said police.

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