The unarmed Delhi Police officer who came face-to-face with a gun-wielding goon during violence that struck parts of Delhi this week has said he tried to distract the man by “showing my stick (lathi). “I saw him running towards me… I tried to scare him by showing my stick. He got distracted and fired a bullet towards the other side and fled from there,” Deepak Dahiya told news agency ANI today.
Amid the horrific violence that consumed northeast Delhi that day – and has for four days since Sunday afternoon – the confrontation between Mr Dahiya and the gunman, later identified as Shahrukh, was a particularly chilling moment.
A suspect was subsequently arrested but, on Thursday, police clarified he had nothing to do with the shooting. The hunt for Shahrukh, a 33-year-old resident of Seelampur, is ongoing. He has no criminal record but his father is out on bail on drug trafficking charges.
In a video of the stand-off, shot on a mobile phone by an eyewitness standing on the roof of a nearby building, Mr Dahiya – who seems to be dressed in riot gear – is standing in the middle of the street as Shahrukh and at least six other goons approach him.
The video shows Deepak Dahiya standing tall and seemingly unafraid as Shahrukh saunters up, waving the gun – he fires once in the air – and shouting. As he walks up, stones rain down and tear gas shells can be heard exploding in the background.
He then points the gun at the cop, who retreats, holding his hands away from his body to indicate he is unarmed. The gunman then walks right up and shoves him away before firing a second time.
The scary video was one of several to have emerged from the violence that has killed 42 people and injured hundreds in unprecedented violence over the citizenship law.
One such video showed an entire market in Gokulpuri being set on fire. Another showed a petrol pump in Bhajanpura also on fire. Videos also showed miscreants breaking off chunks of concrete from dividers on roads in Maujpur to throw at each other.
In the four days since Sunday mobs carrying iron rods, sticks and guns defied police orders banning large gatherings, destroying schools and committing arson; in one instance an 85-year-old woman choked to death after being trapped inside her burning home.
Police sources have said the attackers used WhatsApp groups to organise themselves and conduct targeted strike. The cops, who have been criticised for failing to react decisively and protect residents, have so far arrested five people in connection with the violence.
A further 100 have been arrested under preventive sections and over 600 have been detained. A total of 123 FIRs have been filed, but none of these is against BJP leaders accused of hate speeches in the build-up to the violence.
Meanwhile, controversy has erupted over the death of Ankit Sharma, an Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer found dead in a drain in Jafrabad on Wednesday. AAP leader Tahir Hussain has been charged with arson and murder in connection with Mr Sharma’s death.
The Home Ministry, headed by Union Minister Amit Shah, who has faced calls to take responsibility and resign, has roped in National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to help contain the situation and held a series of review meetings in recent days to control the violence.
In a statement issued last night the ministry said the situation is under control and returning to normal.