Two days after a teenager shot a protester in the Indian capital, another firing has been reported at an all-women sit-in site in the city against a controversial new citizenship law.
Police said no protester was wounded after a man fired a gun at New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which critics say violates India‘s secular constitution and is anti-Muslim.
Witnesses told Al Jazeera the suspect shouted “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram, a Hindu deity) as he fired “two to three shots” in the Muslim-dominated area where hundreds of women have been protesting since mid-December.
Mobile videos shot after the arrest of the suspect, identified by the police as Kapil Gujjar, showed him shouting: “Only Hindus will prevail in this country. This country is ours.”
He fired in #ShaheenBagh.
Is anyone doing any effort to de-radicalised these kind of fanatic Hindu youth in India? pic.twitter.com/vK869zEYv2
— Ovais Sultan Khan | اُویس | उवेस (@OvaisSultanKhan) February 1, 2020
Police said Gujjar is a resident of Dallupura village on the outskirts of the Indian capital, and has been taken into custody.
“The man had resorted to aerial firing. Police immediately overpowered and caught him,” police officer Chinmay Biswal told the ANI news agency.
Mohammad Akhlas, who was present at Shaheen Bagh when the shooting happened, told Al Jazeera: “We first thought it was a tyre burst. But later some women came running and said a man fired towards the protest site.”
Other witnesses at Shaheen Bagh told Al Jazeera the firing created panic, with some women leaving the protest site after they heard the gunshots. They later returned to continue their sit-in.
“These incidents actually give us more power to fight the evil forces that are at the helm of affairs. We are peacefully protesting and if they need to resort to violence to suppress us, no need to guess who is on the right path,” Fareeda, a 40-year-old Shaheen Bagh protester, told Al Jazeera.
A group of protesters held a march to the local police station, raising slogans against the attacker and the police.
“We don’t feel intimidated by these acts and the protest will continue till CAA is rolled back,” said a woman protester, who preferred to stay anonymous, told Al Jazeera.
NDTV website quoted a witness saying the gunman fired at the protesters, “while police officers were standing just behind him”.
“He had a semi-automatic pistol and fired two rounds … When his gun jammed, he ran. He tried to fire again, then tossed the gun into the bushes and tried to escape,” NDTV quoted the witness as saying.
A similar incident happened on Thursday when a 17-year-old attacker fired at a protest rally outside New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) university as police officers stood behind him.
Thursday’s shooting, which took place barely two kilometres (1.24 miles) from Shaheen Bagh, wounded a JMI student from Indian-administered Kashmir.
Dramatic photos and videos of the man brandishing a single-barrel gun and shouting slogans at the protesters went viral on Indian social media.
The teenage suspect was arrested and is being interrogated by New Delhi’s police.
The two shootings came just days after India’s minister of state for finance, Anurag Thakur, encouraged supporters at a state election rally in New Delhi to chant slogans, calling for “traitors to be shot”.
Thakur’s statement drew a reprimand from India’s election commission ahead of state assembly elections in the capital.
Hanan Zaffar contributed to this report from New Delhi