Friday, August 16, 2013

Communities clash, 31 injured

NEW DELHI: A clash between two communities in the Tilak Vihar area of west Delhi left many people injured on Thursday evening. While police claimed 19 people were injured, five of them cops,DDU Hospital put the number of injured at 31. Five locals were admitted with bullet wounds and one of them is reported critical with a shot to the abdomen. Three of the injured cops have head injuries from stones thrown by the rioters. 

The two communities live close by within the Tilak Lane area. There are conflicting accounts of how the fight started but it soon spun out of control with both sides burning vehicles, damaging property and pelting stones. Sources said the violence lasted from 2pm to 7.30pm and was brought under control with heavy use of force, including 2,000 personnel from 11 police stations and around 50 tear gas shells. Police denied firing upon the rioters. "We did not fire any rounds at all and resorted to use of teargas only. We are probing how these shots were fired,'' said a senior officer at the police headquarters. 

Locals said the violence started as a verbal spat between a biker and a passerby but it soon turned nasty after their supporters started pelting stones at each other. When police intervened, the fight became a full-scale riot in which about a dozen police and private vehicles were set on fire. Another group of witnesses said the fight snowballed from an argument between children flying kites on Independence Day. Police, however, said the fight started when members of one community pulled up three stunt bikers from the other. 

Soon after the fight started, police along with paramilitary forces reached the spot and cordoned it off. Media persons and passersby were stopped 2km away to prevent a flare-up. The clashes peaked around 4.30pm, briefly forcing the cops to take cover from the shower of stones. Police then charged the mob with lathis and started lobbing tear gas shells. Reinforcements from specialized units—AATS, special staff and the reserve police—also arrived. A few rounds were fired in the air and then the rioters began to disperse. After two hours of extensive riot control measures, the situation was brought under control around 7.30pm. 

Till 10.30pm, when TOI visited the spot, both groups were sloganeering against each other, across a human chain of policemen. The road near Tilak Vihar police post, the main scene of action, was covered in stones. Riot police and Vajra water canons have been deployed in the area. 

Sunny Singh, who was admitted to DDU Hospital with gunshots, said: "I was hit by a bullet in the police firing when I was running to save myself. People were pelting stones". Mohar Singh and Raghunath were also admitted with bullet injuries. Other locals at the hospital also alleged that police opened fire. 

Political leaders, including MP Mahabal Mishra, and police officers including special CP (law and order) Deepak Misra and joint CP Vivek Gogia reached the area late in the evening to establish peace. A high-level probe has been ordered. The local police's role will also be investigated. Gogia assured the locals that an investigation will be conducted into the incident, and urged people of both communities to not resort to violence. 

A case under sections of rioting, illegal use of weapons and damaging public property has been registered at Tilak Nagar police station. The damaged vehicles include five bikes, a three-wheeler, a car, and police vehicles, including one used by additional commissioner (west) V Renganathan.

with thanks : Times of India : LINK

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