Delhi witnessed violence again on Tuesday when protesters against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act hurled stones, torched a motorbike and clashed with police, who broke up the demonstration using their batons and tear gas.
Some residents of the predominantly Muslim neighbourhood of Seelampur Chowk, where the clash happened, suggested that “outsiders” may have started the violence that broke out “suddenly” during a peaceful protest.
On Sunday, police had entered the Jamia Millia Islamia without permission and gone on the rampage, thrashing students, security guards, an imam and a woman journalist, the incident prompting protests across Indian campuses and condemnation abroad.
An officer said Tuesday’s protesters had begun gathering from noon and started their march towards Jaffarabad at 2pm, when the police stopped them.
“At the outset the protestors were peaceful but they later turned violent. We had to carry out a lathi-charge and fire tear gas shells to break up the unruly crowd. No one was injured,” the officer said.
Protesters outside the Jamia Millia Islamia university on Tuesday. (PTI)
The protesters chanted slogans against the new citizenship law as well as the proposed countrywide update of the National Register of Citizens.
Visuals showed roads littered with stones, a bus and a car with their windows damaged, charred remains of a motorbike and large crowds on the streets.
An uneasy calm later enveloped the area as residents held discussions with senior police officers who had reached the spot. Announcements were made on loudspeakers from mosques asking people to maintain peace.
Delhi Metro closed the entry and exit gates of seven stations near the Seelampur area.
“It was a peaceful protest. Local people were silently marching but later things turned violent. Suddenly, we saw some protestors throwing stones and clashing with the police,” Afzal Ali, a resident, said.
“We suspect that a group of outsiders, armed with bricks and bottles, had sparked the clash. Only a police investigation can ascertain who were behind it.”
An officer said: “It’s not clear whether any organisation was behind the protest. We are examining video footage to identify the people behind the violence.”
The police said the situation had been brought under control with the help of five additional companies, and that the policemen hit by stones had been treated at a local hospital.