On Friday, the youth was produced before a Juvenile Justice Board and sent to 14-day protective custody. (Reuters)
The 17-year-old, who shot at a Jamia student during an anti-CAA protest Thursday, had been given Rs 10,000 by his parents to get clothes stitched for a relative’s wedding, but he spent the money on buying a country-made pistol from a 19-year-old who stays in his village in Gautam Buddha Nagar district. This came to light during his initial questioning by police.
On Friday, the youth was produced before a Juvenile Justice Board and sent to 14-day protective custody.
The questioning also revealed how round-the-clock consumption of hateful content on social media and WhatsApp over the past eight months sent the 17-year-old down a path of anger, culminating in Thursday’s shooting.
An officer familiar with the investigation told The Indian Express that around two years ago, the youth came in touch with some people online, and they would discuss how their religion was under threat. “He would closely follow their posts and stream their videos, and was active on WhatsApp groups critical of the current anti-CAA protests, especially in Shaheen Bagh and Jamia,” the officer said.
Police said Thursday was only the second time the youth had visited Delhi. “He told police he came to Delhi after boarding a roadways bus, which dropped him at Kalindi Kunj. The last time he came to Delhi was when he was seven years old,” the officer said.
Police said he described himself as “real nationalist”. “He told police he was upset with the murders of Chandan Gupta, who was killed during violence in Kasganj in 2018, and the self-proclaimed working president of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha Kamlesh Tiwari in 2019. For the past eight months, he had been constantly watching social media post by self-proclaimed members of fringe Hindu groups,” an officer said.
He is also learnt to have told police that he can “die for his religion”, that he had “done his job”, and that “they deserved it”.
After he was apprehended, the youth was first taken to New Friends Colony police station, and then to Greater Kailash police station. Later in the evening, he was handed to the Crime Branch, where he was questioned in the presence of counsellors.
According to sources, while speaking to police, he also referred to a video posted by actor Ajaz Khan who was later arrested from Mumbai last year, and the recent speech by JNU PhD student Sharjeel Imam. Police said they have urged for the formation of a medical panel to conduct a bone ossification test to verify his age.
Meanwhile, the Jamia Chief Proctor Friday handed police a red backpack, allegedly belonging to the juvenile. Chief Proctor Waseem Ahmad Khan said the bag contained a register and a certificate in which the shooter’s name was written.
Among the belongings, there were several loose papers, including one which had “Mandir wahi banayenge” written with a pencil, and two flags drawn on the top right corner of the page, it is learnt. “A boy gave the bag to our guard yesterday. We don’t know who that person is. We thought it was a student’s bag and that they would come to receive it. When they didn’t, I thought we should check what’s inside the bag,” said Khan.
“It contained a register which had class notes and the name of the shooter, along with three-four other names. There was also a book on accountancy and some papers. We have handed over everything. There was also a certificate of participation in which his name was written,” he said.
Khan said there were photos of two-three other people, and a wallet. He said there was no ID card. The bag is also learnt to have contained a blue tie and a pen.
Meanwhile, the Jamia Teachers’ Association Friday condemned the shooting and blamed MoS (Finance) Anurag Thakur for it. At a poll rally Monday, Thakur had chanted “Desh ke gaddaron ko” and the crowd had completed the slogan with “goli maaro saalon ko”.
“We are convinced this shooting was the direct result of the call... Nothing can be more anti-national than a minister inciting citizens to violence from a public platform,” JTA secretary Majid Jamil said in a statement.