The shooter at Shaheen Bagh was taken into custody by the Delhi Police. (PTI)
A man fired shots on Saturday at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, the heart of protests against the citizenship law CAA, just three days after a teen shooter fired at protesters at nearby Jamia Millia University. This is the second daylight shooting in which the police caught the man only after the shots were fired.
The 25-year-old man, identified as Kapil Gujjar, allegedly shouted "Jai Sri Ram" as he fired shots standing near police barricades put up at the south Delhi locality where hundreds of women and children have sat on the road in protest for more than a month. He was caught by the police. No one was injured.
The shooter was also heard saying: "Humare desh mein sirf Hinduon ki chalegi aur kisi ki nahi (in our country only Hindus will prevail)." He had allegedly come to the area in an auto.
A witness said the man fired two-three times, standing right next to the police, not at the spot of the protest but close enough to a large crowd of unarmed men, women and children.
"We suddenly heard gunshots. This person was shouting Jai Shri Ram. He had a semi-automatic pistol and he fired two rounds. The police were standing just behind him," said the witness, a volunteer at the protest.
"When his gun jammed, he ran. He tried to fire again, then tossed the gun into the bushes and tried to escape. Some of us and the police caught him, the police dragged him away," he added. Protesters questioned whether the police were more focused on keeping an eye on them rather than tackling crimes like this.
Police officer Chinmay Biswal said the man had fired shots in the air. "The man had resorted to aerial firing. Police immediately overpowered and caught him," he said.
This incident - the second shooting in Delhi at an anti-CAA protest -- has chilling similarities to the one that took place just two km away at Jamia university on Thursday, when a 17-year-old Class 12 boy from Uttar Pradesh fired a crude pistol at unarmed protesters with dozens of policemen behind him, watching. The teen, who left home claiming he was going to school, took a bus to Delhi intending to target Shaheen Bagh but landed at Jamia next-door after an auto-driver dropped him off there to avoid the traffic chaos.
The shootings have taken place in quick succession after controversial slogans of "Goli Maaro Sa***n Ko (shoot the traitors)" were chanted on Monday at a Delhi campaign rally of Anurag Thakur, the Union Minister of State for Finance, who was part of the team involved in Budget 2020 announced on Saturday.
Mr Thakur was banned from campaigning in Delhi for three days for egging on BJP workers to shout the "Goli Maaro" slogan.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal slammed Home Minister Amit Shah, to whose ministry the Delhi Police reports to, over the two shooting incidents. "What have you done to our Delhi, Amit Shah ji? Bullets are being fired in broad daylight... Law and order is being criticised constantly. Elections will come and go, politics will keep happening, but for the sake of the people of Delhi, please focus on fixing law and order," he tweeted.
The Shaheen Bagh protest has attracted attention from across the country in the protests against the CAA or the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which makes religion a criterion for citizenship. Critics say the law discriminates against Muslims as only non-Muslims from neighbouring Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh can become Indian citizens if they fled religious persecution and entered India before 2015.
Of late, critics of the Shaheen Bagh protests, mainly pro-CAA activists, have attacked the month-long sit-in on a key road in Delhi connecting to Noida. They say the protest has become a traffic nightmare for commuters.