An unidentified gunman has fired a shot at a protest rally against India’s new citizenship law near Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University in the capital New Delhi, witnesses said.
“He [the gunman] was shouting, Delhi Police Zindabad [long live Delhi police] … who wants Azadi [Freedom] come I’ll shoot you. And then he shot one fire,” said witness Nazim Qazi, who was also part of the protest.
“A student named Shadab was hurt and has been taken to nearby Holy Family hospital,” he said.
Another witness told Leakblast that Jamia students were marching towards the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s independence struggle, when the attack happened.
The march was organised to coincide with the death anniversary of Gandhi, who was killed by a member of Hindu far-right, Nathuram Godse, in 1948.
The victim has now been moved to the trauma centre of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, sources said.
A photograph circulated by the Reuters news agency showed the man, dressed in a black jacket and brandishing a single-barrel weapon, standing metres away from dozens of policemen deployed outside the university, where protesters had gathered for the march.
Witnesses said the assailant shouted slogans against the protesters, before firing at them.
“The police stood nearby,” Ahmed Zahir, a witness, told Reuters.
Deputy commissioner of police in Southeast Delhi said they have arrested the suspect and were trying to confirm his identity, adding that the investigation was ongoing into the incident.
“We have yet to confirm who is this person. We have detained him and now looking into it,” Chinmoy Biswal told Leakblast.
Weeks of protests
Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which fast-tracks Indian citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from three neighbouring countries, have flared since last December.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government insists the law is required to help persecuted minorities who fled to India before 2015 from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
However, protesters insist the law, and a proposed national register for citizens discriminates against the country’s Muslim minority and violates India’s secular constitution.
In recent days, leaders from Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have called for action against the protesters, who they term as unpatriotic.
This week, Indian Junior Finance Minister Anurag Thakur encouraged supporters at a state election rally in New Delhi to chant slogans calling for traitors to be shot, drawing a reprimand from the country’s election commission.
Last month, Delhi police stormed the JMI library and thrashed students, who were protesting against CAA. Dozens of students were injured in the police action that caused a public outcry.
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