The accused was apprehended by police and questioned. (Express photo: Gajendra Yadav)
More than 300 police personnel from the Southeast district and five companies of CRPF were stationed at three points — Sarai Jullena, Holy Family Hospital and Sukhdev Vihar — Thursday morning when an armed assailant shot at a Jamia student during a march.
Eyewitness accounts and videos shot by students and locals all point fingers at a row of policemen standing metres away from the accused as he brandishes a country-made weapon, with none of them showing urgency to bring him under control. It’s only when he has fired a shot that a lone police officer controls him.
This is the third time since December that Delhi Police has come under criticism for lackadaisical handling of law and order situations in or around campuses — after barging into the Jamia Millia Islamia on December 15, and shoddy handling of the violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University on January 5.
Around 10.15 pm on Wednesday, a message was flashed from the police control room in Southeast district to all stations, asking personnel to be present for security deployment outside Jamia and Holy Family Hospital the next morning, to stop protesters from marching from Jamia to Rajghat. “SHOs from 12 police stations were asked to report along with 20 personnel each, in anti-riot gear, at 9.30 am. They were accompanied by two companies of CRPF, and were asked to make proper arrangements,” a senior officer said.
Learning from past rallies by students, the Southeast district police strategically made three points to stop protesters. Seniors officers, including JCP (Southern range) Devesh Srivastava, DCP (Southeast) Chinmoy Biswal and Additional DCP Kumar Gyanesh were present along with their staff.
Asked why, despite such intense police presence which included senior officers, did the accused manage to shoot at a protester, Special CP (crime branch) Praveer Ranjan said “things happened in a split second” — a claim contradicted by eyewitnesses who said police had time to swoop in and control him.
“Officers couldn’t see what he was holding or doing as the man was not facing them. His back was towards personnel, and he emerged from the crowd of students who were marching. Personnel thought he was waving a phone in the air; they too were taken aback by the firing,” a senior officer said.
A protester, however, said: “As soon as he took out his weapon, everyone shouted for help — students, media. How did police not hear us or figure out what was happening?”
Hours after the juvenile was apprehended, he was first taken to New Friends Colony police station, and then to Greater Kailash police station. He is learnt to have told police that he came to Delhi after boarding a roadways bus, which dropped him at Kalindi Kunj. “He told police he then took an e-rickshaw to reach Jamia from where he first went to Shaheen Bagh after walking and later came to the protest site near Holy Family Hospital,” a senior officer said.
He was “reluctant” during questioning and claimed he had “done his job” and “they deserved it”. “He told police he met some people on social media a few months ago and they became friends. He claimed he was not happy with the anti-CAA protests and had discussed this issue with them,” an officer said.