‘Goli maaro...’ slogans at march attended by BJP leader Kapil Mishra
Inflammatory slogans such as “shoot the traitors” were chanted during a peace march organised on Saturday in the heart of New Delhi in the aftermath of the communal rioting that left at least 42 people dead and more than 450 injured in the national capital, even as SN Shrivastava took charge as the police commissioner with a vow to restore peace .
On a relatively peaceful Saturday, meanwhile, it emerged, that at least 87 people suffered gunshot wounds in the rioting, of whom at least 20 — including one policeman — succumbed to bullet injuries, investigators said. The police said no deaths had been reported on Saturday from riot-hit areas, but a shop was set on fire in the Welcome neighbourhood of north-east Delhi.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kapil Mishra, who has faced flak for allegedly making provocative statements in the lead-up to the rioting in northeast Delhi, was present in Jantar Mantar, from where the peace marchers set off for Parliament Street.
Families of some of the victims of the communal violence also participated in the march, held in the presence of around 100 police personnel, although it had not received formal permission from the city police. The police took no action against either the sloganeers or the organisers of the march. Similar slogans were chanted at the Rajiv Chowk Metro station in the morning by a group of six students, who were immediately removed by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and handed over to the Delhi Metro Police for questioning.
Two video clips of the two separate incidents of the slogan chanting surfaced on social media, triggering criticism of the Delhi Police, already under fire for failing to act promptly to stanch the rioting. Deputy commissioner of police (Metro) Vikram Porwal said the six students were found shouting “desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maro saalon ko (shoot the traitors)” at the Metro station.
“We detained them and questioned them. The boys were found to be students. They had no criminal antecedents. All of them were released after due verification,” added Porwal.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said in a statement: “In reference to a video clip going viral on social media, showing sloganeering by some passengers at Rajiv Chowk Metro station, it is to state that this incident happened today around 10:52am.”
“The DMRC and CISF staff immediately handed them over to the Delhi Metro Rail Police for further necessary action. Under Delhi Metro O&M Act 2002, any kind of demonstration or nuisance is prohibited in Delhi metro premises. Any passenger indulging in such act is liable to be removed from the Metro premises,” DMRC spokesperson Anuj Dayal said. O&M is short for operation and maintenance.
At Jantar Mantar, slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ were also raised as around 1,200 people gathered at the venue holding the tricolour, the police said. One of the participants, Sumit Malhotra, who identified himself as a social activist, said the march had been organised by the Delhi Peace Forum, a little known group, and messages to join the march in Jantar Mantar were being shared on social media groups for the past three-four days. Malhotra confirmed that BJP leader Kapil Mishra participated in the event at Jantar Mantar and also that “shoot the traitors” slogans were raised by some people as the march was in Connaught Place’s inner circle.
“Many people joined the march mid-way and some started shouting such slogans. We along with some police personnel immediately responded and stopped them from raising such inflammatory slogans,” said Malhotra, adding that the march culminated peacefully at Parliament Street, a short distance away.
Deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi) Eish Singhal said of the slogan shouting, “We have not received any complaint in that regard. No case has been registered.” Shrivastava, who on Saturday took charge as acting chief of Delhi Police, replacing Amulya Patnaik, who retired, said cases of rioting and murder were being registered and the strictest possible action would be taken to ensure that violence doesn’t flare again.
“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.
Until Saturday evening, Delhi Police had registered 203 cases in connection with the rioting, including 24 of murder and 36 others under various sections of the Arms Act. The remaining cases were of rioting, attacking police personnel, arson and damaging property, the police said.
The police said they had registered separate cases against 13 social media account holders on various platforms — Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — for posting provocative content having the potential to trigger communal violence.
Two special investigation teams (SITs) probing the communal violence have arrested 39 people, some of them with a criminal background. The police seized 39 firearms, after raids in various parts of Delhi and adjoining states. Joint commissioner of police (eastern range) Alok Kumar said the investigators were collecting details of cases against the criminals.