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Capital remains on edge, toll rises to 27

Although top government and police authorities claimed that the situation was under control now, there were reports of fresh violence from some areas with shops being set on fire.

SNS | New Delhi |

The national capital continued to be on edge today after two days of communal riots, violence and mayhem that tore through Northeast Delhi, killing at least 27 people and wounding over 200 people while leaving a large number of houses, shops, vehicles and other properties burnt and destroyed in its wake so far.

Although top government and police authorities claimed that the situation was under control now, there were reports of fresh violence from some areas with shops being set on fire.

There were reports of fresh violence from Bhajanpura area this evening, hours after National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval visited the violence-affected Northeast Delhi to take stock of the grave situation.

Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Babarpur, Yamuna Vihar, Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Shiv Vihar are among the Northeast Delhi areas devastated by this communal conflagration that was sparked by clashes between two groups of people ~ opponents of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and CAA supporters ~ last Sunday, which took a communal turn.

As police conducted flag marches and security personnel spread out across Northeast Delhi in a bid to quell violent clashes and unrest raging since Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his first reaction, appealed for peace and harmony.

“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,” PM Modi tweeted. “Peace and harmony are central to our ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times. It is important that there is calm and normalcy is restored at the earliest.”

The PM tasked the NSA with the mandate to restore normalcy in riots-hit Northeast Delhi.

“What has happened has happened. Inshallah, there will be complete peace here,” Doval said as he walked through the mostly mixed-communities neighbourhoods of Northeast Delhi and met their terrorised residents.

Last night, Doval undertook a visit of the disturbed belt along with Delhi Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik and newly-appointed special commissioner S N Shrivastava who is believed to have been handpicked by Doval after Patnaik faced flak for failing to curb the spiralling violence in the midst of US President Donald Trump’s visit to the national capital.

Calling the situation in Delhi alarming, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal today asserted that the Army should be called in as police were “unable” to establish control and normalcy.

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.

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 security forces in Chand Bagh with security personnel not allowing anyone to come out of their premises. The blackened walls of a mazaar in the locality spoke volumes of the violence the day before.

After two days of armed mobs roaming unchecked through the streets, looting shops and setting properties on fire, there was tension and uneasy quiet in several places.

But, in Gokulpuri, billowing smoke again darkened the skies with rioters setting on fire shops.

After losing their livelihoods with their shops having been looted and their children being in a state of panic after witnessing unrelenting violence and bloodshed, many people were seen leaving their homes.

Delhi Police drew flak from various quarters for their inadequate presence in riots-hit areas. There were also reports from various places that mobs targeted houses and shops of people from the minority community allegedly in their presence.

Several reporters from various media organisations such as NDTV and Indian Express were assaulted by communal mobs who eventually spared them after knowing that they belonged to the majority community.

The minaret of a mosque at Ashok Nagar was vandalised and a saffron flag planted atop it.

NSA Doval, however, claimed after visiting affected areas and interacting with locals that the situation in the violence-hit Northeast Delhi was under control and that police were doing their job.

Holding the Modi government and the AAP-led Delhi government responsible for the deadly violence ~ which was not seen in decades ~ Congress president Sonia Gandhi demanded the resignation of Union home minister Amit Shah.

“The conspiracy was witnessed during Delhi polls, when BJP leaders gave hate speeches creating atmosphere of fear and hatred,” Gandhi said. Shah must take responsibility for the Delhi mayhem and resign, she said.

Two deaths were recorded at LNJP Hospital today, authorities said.

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

Most of the fatalities were recorded at GTB Hospital.

A legion of people was injured during the cycle of communal riots and violence.

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.

Delhi Police has arrested 106 people for their alleged involvement in this violence and registered 18 FIRs, a senior police officer said.

“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.