Began with roses, ended with bullets: How CAA protests in Delhi unfolded

Updated on Feb 25, 2020 08:25 AM IST

Monday in Jafrabad had begun differently from how it ended.

A protester holds a rose while a policeman (right) picks an empty cartridge from the site.(Photo: Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times)
A protester holds a rose while a policeman (right) picks an empty cartridge from the site.(Photo: Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAnvit Srivastava

Around 11am on Monday, the anti-CAA protesters who had gathered on the main road under the Jafrabad Metro station had red roses in their hands, planning to welcome the CAA supporters, who were gathering roughly a kilometre away on the same road under Maujpur-Babarpur Metro station, with flowers.

“If they throw stones at us, we will welcome them with roses,” the protesters said.

By 2pm, within minutes of repeated violent face-offs, for which both the sides blamed each other, the roses were replaced by wooden sticks, metal rods, stones, bricks and glass bottles.

At least three vehicles parked outside houses on the main road were gutted, a building with a shop on the ground floor was set afire, several houses and shops were vandalised and several people were injured.

By 3pm, when additional forces were called in and a flag march was conducted, after many rounds of stone-pelting, the roads were carpeted with bricks, stones, shattered glass bottles and rose petals the protesters had brought.

Monday in Jafrabad had begun differently from how it ended.

“Around 10am, we brought bunch of roses and distributed among the anti-CAA protesters. During the face-off, we asked our men to stand behind the barricades that the police had erected and not cross them. As we saw the other group (those supporting CAA) raising sticks and rods from the other side, trying to provoke us, we show them roses,” said one of the protesters.

Another man, who also asked not to be named, said: “But when the other group were set free to attack us, how can they expect us to not retaliate? We had planned that we will welcome them with flowers, but not those who intend to attack our wives, daughters and sisters.”

On Sunday, too, people on both sides of the CAA divide were seen hurling stones and attacking each other.

A woman at the protest site, who identified herself as Tabassum, a mother of two, added, “No force can drag us out of the country. We are sitting here since Saturday night. We have been there in Shaheen Bagh for so long and there has been not a single incident of violence. We do not want violence. We are fighting for our rights, we are fighting for our children and their future. But the other group has the support of the police,” she said.

Another woman, Shehnaz, 32, said it is sad to see that when they are armed with roses, the other groups were pelting stones. “They do not want peace. They want violence,” she said.

The Jafrabad main road that connects GT Road to Jafrabad and further to Maujpur-Babarpur has a busy market on the left. On Monday, all shops remained shut. By evening, most of them had their boards and hoardings broken or pulled down.

The wooden hoardings were converted into sticks and glass doors and lights were shattered. Most of these buildings have shops on the ground floor and houses on the floors above. As windows of the houses overlooking the main road were shattered during stone pelting, residents remained locked inside their houses for hours.

“We shut the doors of the rooms that had windows overlooking the main road. Many of us had covered the windows with almirahs so that the stones do not enter our houses. Some people have left the area until the situation returns to normal,” said Moin Khan, a 19-year-old resident of the area.

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