Unfazed by attack, Shaheen Bagh protesters resolve to stay put

Two days after Jamia firing, shots fired at Shaheen Bagh
Protesters continue to stage a demonstration against the CAA, NRC and NPR at Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi. Photo: IANS

New Delhi: Unfazed by the firing incident at Shaheen Bagh on Saturday, protestors said they will continue their stir at the site until the government revokes the amended citizenship law.

Just days after a man fired a pistol at a group of anti-citizenship law protesters, a gunman appeared at the Shaheen Bagh area and fired two rounds in the air on Saturday.

The gunman, who has been identified as Kapil Gujjar, was overpowered by locals and handed over to the police. He is being questioned by the police.

Video from the site showed the man screaming 'Hamare desh mein sirf Hinduon ki chalegi aur kisi ki nahi' (Hindus will prevail in our country), while being taken away by the police.

No one was injured in the firing, which occurred at around 4:53 pm. It occured two days after a gunman shot protesters at Shaheen Bagh.

Soon after, more protestors were seen flocking to the site. Some sung the national anthem, while others formed a human chain and offered namaz.

The protestors also raised slogans against the Delhi Police. 

A woman protestor, who didn't wish to be named, said the incident created a panic among them as well as the children.

"Many women and children were inside the tent when the incident occurred. We rushed to the spot on hearing a gunshot. Everyone is scared. But we won't leave," she said.

Farjana (35), who did not share her second name, said she had been sitting at the protest site since the last three weeks.

"Nobody wants violence. We welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come to Shaheen Bagh and see how people have been protesting here peacefully. No one from here is involved in any kind of violence whether it is firing or something else. We just want the government to revoke this law. Till then we will not leave the site," she said.

Farhan Akhtar (30), who lives nearby, alleged that the government thought it could scare away the protestors and dilute the movement.

"I want to tell them that people are sitting here for their rights. They want the newly amended Citizenship Act abolished and till that time, nobody will move," Akhtar said.

Rehman (28), who did not share his second name, blamed provocative statements by BJP leaders for the attack.

"We don't want CAA and NRC. The people of this country want jobs and education. Don't divide us on the basis of religion. Leaders like Anurag Thakur are instigating the youth who are taking this kind of steps," he said.

According to eyewitnesses, the man opened fire close to the police barricades, nearly 250 metres behind the stage at the site where the protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act has been going on since over a month.

Further investigation is on," said Chinmoy Biswal, Deputy Commissioner of Police (southeast) said.

Abu Ala Suhani, a publisher and resident of Shaheen Bagh said, "The man appeared be in his 20s and fired two rounds. While he was being taken into custody, we heard a policemanasking him his name. The man said his name was Kapil Gujjar and he belongs to Dallupura village in Uttar Pradesh."

The development comes in the wake of Modi government consented to talks with the Shaheen Bagh protesters – mainly women camping at the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had on Saturday tweeted that “Government is ready to talk to protesters of Shaheen Bagh but then it should be in a structured form and the Narendra Modi-government is ready to communicate with them and clear all their doubts they have against CAA."

In a veiled attack on the BJP over the Shaheen Bagh firing incident, the Congress on Saturday said the shooter has changed but the ideology pulling the trigger in 1948 or 2020 has remained the same.

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said, "Shooter changes but ideology pulling the trigger either in 1948 (Nathuram Godse) or 2020 remains the same 'Goli Maro' -- Hands which should be pulling India's growth are now firing guns."

"Instead of 'Make in India' focus is on 'spreading hate in India'," he said.

Shaheen Bagh has been the site of anti-CAA protest where primarily women and children have been camping since December 15.

(With inputs from agencies)

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