Brittle quiet after 2 days of communal mayhem in NE Delhi, toll rises to 27

Delhi Police arrest over 100 people; NSA Doval visits affected areas, says situation ‘under control’

Brittle quiet after 2 days of communal mayhem in NE Delhi, toll rises to 27

New Delhi, February 26 

Death toll in the violent communal clashes in Delhi climbed to 27, after two deaths were reported at the city's LNJP Hospital, authorities said on Wednesday.  

These were the first cases of casualty reported at LNJP Hospital, which has been receiving a number of patients since the violence broke out Monday evening.

"One person was brought dead, while another died during treatment," Medical Superintendent of LNJP Hospital Kishore Singh told PTI.

"The death toll at GTB Hospital has risen to 25," GTB Hospital Medical Superintendent Sunil Kumar said.

A brittle quiet settled over parts of riot-hit northeast Delhi on Wednesday but there was violence in some other places with shops set ablaze and the body of an IB staffer found in a drain. 

As police conducted flag marches and security personnel spread out across the northeastern edge of India’s national capital in a bid to quell the violence raging since Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first reaction appealed for peace and brotherhood. 

Asserting that it was important calm was restored at the earliest, Modi said on Twitter, “Had an extensive review on the situation prevailing in various parts of Delhi. Police and other agencies are working on the ground to ensure peace and normalcy.”  

The task of bringing the situation under control was given to National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

“What has happened has happened. Inshallah, there will be complete peace here,” Doval said as he walked through the mostly mixed neighbourhoods of northeast Delhi and met locals. 

Doval held a meeting with the top brass of the Delhi Police at the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (northeast) in Seelampur.

This was Doval’s second visit to the office. He had visited the office and met senior officers on late night on Tuesday.

What has happened has happened. Inshallah, there will be complete peace here.

Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser

After the meeting, Doval went Jaffrabad and Maujpur to take stock of the situation. He interacted with locals and assured them about ensuring peace in the area. 

“The situation is under control and people are satisfied. We have confidence in law enforcement agencies. Police is doing their job and is alert,” he told reporters.

On Tuesday, he undertook a late night tour with Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik and newly-appointed Special Commissioner S N Shrivastava. 

Shrivastava is believed to have been handpicked by Doval after Patnaik faced flak for failing to curb the spiralling violence in the backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s visit, sources said. 

Doval was greeted warmly at some places, but at a location two agitated locals complained about the violence.

At Jaffrabad, a young girl walked up to Doval and said she does not feel safe in the area. She also blamed the police for “inaction” when rioters went on a rampage.

To her, he said, “I give you my word. Everyone is safe here.” He also asked police personnel to ensure that the girl reaches home safely.

“People have a sense of unity among them, there is no enmity. A few criminals do things like this, people are trying to isolate them. Police is here and doing its work,” he said.

Doval said he was there as per the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

“The situation is under control and people are satisfied. We have confidence in law enforcement agencies. Police is doing their job and is alert,” he told reporters.

“If god wills, there will be peace and harmony here (Inshallah yahan par bilkul aman hoga),” he said.

The arrests

Delhi Police said later in the day that they had arrested 106 people in connection with the violence, and registered 18 FIRs.

"No untoward incident was reported on Wednesday and PCR calls from northeast Delhi have reduced," Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Mandeep Singh Randhawa told reporters.

Police also released two helpline numbers—011-22829334, 22829335—for people to reach out during distress.

Meanwhile, a senior government official said families of those killed in Delhi violence to get Rs 2 lakh, and the seriously injured Rs 50,000 as compensation.

Doval briefs Amit Shah

Doval briefed Home Minister Amit Shah about the prevailing situation in Northeast Delhi, officials said.

He met Shah soon after his visit to the riot-affected areas of the national capital at the latter's North Block office. 

The NSA briefed the home minister about the current law and order situation in North East Delhi and steps taken to bring back normalcy there, a home ministry official said.

Calling the situation in northeast Delhi alarming, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Army should be called in as police is “unable” to establish control. 

Away from ‘leader-speak’, fear hung like a heavy cloud over the area, littered with the detritus of a riot—mangled and charred vehicles, bricks, stones and jagged glass. 

An Intelligence Bureau staffer, identified as Ankit Sharma, was found dead in a drain in Chand Bagh where he stayed. Sharma may have been killed in stone pelting, officials said. 

Uneasy quiet

Shops and schools were closed and many streets deserted with police making announcements that no one should come out of their homes.  

There was heavy deployment of force in Chand Bagh with security personnel not allowing anyone to come out. The blackened walls of a ‘mazaar’ in the locality spoke volumes of the violence the day before.

After two days of mobs roaming unchecked through the streets, looting shops and setting property on fire, the uneasy quiet was a respite. 

But not everywhere.

In Gokulpuri, for instance, smoke darkened the skies with rioters setting on fire shops.  

Their livelihoods lost with their shops looted and their children in a state of panic after witnessing the bloodshed, many people were seen leaving their homes. Among them was a family that promised to be back, but said they did not know when. 

Asked if the victims have been identified, he said, “Many people have been identified, some are yet to be.

The “gush” of injured patients had reduced to a trickle.

Patients have several kinds of injuries, including from gunshots, stones and other weapons and many were hurt while jumping from rooftops to escape the rioters, hospital authorities said. 

Holding the Centre and the Delhi government responsible for the violence—perhaps the first time since 1984 that the city has seen such scenes of communal mayhem—Congress president Sonia Gandhi called for the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah. 

 “The conspiracy was witnessed during Delhi polls and BJP leaders gave hate speeches creating atmosphere of fear and hatred,” she said.  

The slugfest continued with the BJP, in turn, accusing Gandhi of politicising the violence.

“Violence is ending. Investigation is on to find out the truth and identify culprits... At such a time, attacking government and politicising violence is dirty politics,” said Union minister Prakash Javadekar, adding that it also demoralises police.

That was also a concern of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who asked a Supreme Court bench not to make any adverse observations relating to the violence as it will demoralise the police force.

An apex court bench of Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph lashed out at law enforcing agencies for allowing the “instigators of violence” to get away and said they should act as per law without waiting for somebody’s nod.

“If somebody makes an inflammatory remark, police has to take action,” it said.

 The Delhi High Court also reprimanded Delhi Police.

 “... we should never allow another 1984... especially under the watch of the court and under your (Delhi Police) watch... We have to be very, very alert,” a bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Anup J Bhambhani said.

 In a midnight hearing, the Delhi High Court directed police to ensure safe passage to government hospitals and emergency treatment for those injured in the communal violence erupted in northeast Delhi over the amended citizenship law. — PTI

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