A gun-wielding man opened fire on protesters demonstrating against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) near the Jamia Millia Islamia in south Delhi on Thursday, injuring a student. The assailant, identified as 31-year-old Gopal, has been taken into custody and is being questioned, police said.
“Brandishing the gun, he shouted who wants Azadi, come I’ll shoot you and then fired on the protesters,” said students who witnessed the shocking incident. A video of the attack that is being shared widely on social media also showed the assailant shouting the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan and warning protesters to chant ‘Vande Mataram’ if they want to stay in India.
The injured student, Shadab, was hit by the bullet in his arm and has been admitted to the Holy Family hospital in Jamia Nagar. His condition is stated to be stable.
The incident took place when a protest march was being taken out from the university campus to Jantar Mantar in central Delhi. Students told News18 that the attacker tried to hijack the peaceful protest and threatened the anti-CAA agitators, while the cops stood as mute spectators.
After the shooting, the entry and exit gates of three Metro stations – Jama Masjid, ITO and Delhi Gate – have been closed by authorities fearing more protests.
The shooting comes in the aftermath of communally-charged, hateful and violence-provoking rhetoric by several BJP leaders in the run-up to the assembly elections in Delhi.
Junior finance minister Anurag Thakur had on Monday led chants of ‘shoot the traitors’ at a poll rally in north Delhi’s Rithala. The minister prompted “desh ke gaddaron ko…” to which the crowd responded “…goli maaro sa***n ko”. The chant translates to “shoot down the traitors who betray the country”.
Protesters against the CAA and the NRC have often been dubbed anti-national by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
After Thakur’s hate speech, a man carrying a gun was also caught at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, the venue of mega protests. The man had walked into the protest ground and allegedly brandished the weapon till he was overpowered by the surrounding protesters, eyewitnesses said.