Day after shooting during Jamia protest: Probe to look into slow police response

Mahender Singh Manral
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An unidentified man brandishes a gun during a protest against a new citizenship law outside the Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, India, January 30, 2020. REUTERS

An internal enquiry has been initiated to look into the police’s handling of the situation when an armed youth shot at a Jamia student during a protest against the new citizenship law on Thursday afternoon. As reported by The Indian Express, more than 300 police personnel from the South East district and five companies of CRPF were stationed at three points — Sarai Jullena, Holy Family Hospital and Sukhdev Vihar — when the shooting took place.

Visuals and videos of the shooting also show several policemen, including an ACP and two SHOs, standing in the background when the 17-year-old fired the shot, after brandishing the country-made pistol in the air. Several eyewitnesses The Indian Express spoke to said police response had been slow, and the gunman had ample time to shoot.

Special CP (crime) Praveer Ranjan told The Indian Express that apart from the probe into the shooting, they are also conducting an internal enquiry to ascertain if there were lapses by police.

On Thursday, Ranjan had said, “By the time police could react, the person had already fired. Everything happened in a split second. Investigation is on.”

“Personnel who were at the spot have informed senior officers that they were walking when they first saw the attacker, who came from where the protesters were standing. They said that initially, they did not notice anything amiss as media personnel were also following the gunman. But things became clearer when he came closer to police personnel and ACP (New Friends Colony) Jagdish Yadav noticed he was carrying something in his hand. He asked one of his inspectors, Khalid Hussain, to intervene and they realised he was carrying a pistol,” a senior officer said.

In their defence, police also claimed that the attacker had his back turned towards them, and he fired before they could react. Police had also claimed that some of the officers thought the attacker had a phone in his hand.

Hussain, who is additional SHO (Jamia Nagar), said he was walking near the students when the gunman fired. “The man appeared suddenly and fired. I was the first person to hold Shadab (the injured student).” SHO Jamia Nagar Upender Singh said, “The accused had his back towards us and we couldn’t see the gun. As soon as he fired the gun, we acted swiftly and caught him.”

This is the third time in the last two months that Delhi Police has come under criticism. On December 15, police had stormed the Jamia campus and allegedly assaulted students inside the library after an anti-CAA protest outside the college took a violent turn. On January 5, police had come under scanner for not being able to stop masked men, who ran riot inside JNU and injured students and teachers, in time.