On Tuesday, at around 3 pm, two men entered the Shaheen Bagh protest area and threatened the public to vacate the roads. According to those present, one of the men brandished a gun, climbed onto the stage, and said: “Khali kardo ye jagah warna yahan laashein bich jayengi.” Vacate the spot, or it will be littered with dead bodies.
Crowds, predominantly comprised of women, have been camped out in Shaheen Bagh since December, protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.
Tamkeen Begum, a protester who was an eyewitness to the incident, told Newslaundry: “Suddenly, a man entered and started shouting at us, asking us to vacate the spot. He jumped up on the stage and called us traitors. We initially thought he was from outside, sent to scare us, but some people said he was a local.”
Begum said the gunman told the crowd that his gun was licensed.
A video shot by a protester shows the man with a gun being overpowered by other protesters and handed over to the police.
One of the protesters told Newslaundry, on the condition of anonymity, that people tried to push the gunman and the gun fell from his hands. “He was then overpowered and his gun was taken away. The protesters took him towards the barricade to hand him and his pistol over to the police.”
The protester added: “These are all tactics sponsored by the Bharatiya Janata Party to scare us and make us vacate the spot, because they don’t want our demand of removing the CAA and the NRC to be fulfilled.”
The police stationed at Shaheen Bagh said the man was a local resident who wanted the blocked road to be opened.
The Telegraph that the police have identified the man as Mohammad Luqmaan, 50, a resident of Shaheen Bagh and a building contractor. Luqmaan reportedly went to the the protest site with a group of people to ask that the road that’s been blocked off by the protesters be reopened.
During this discussion, Luqmaan and another man entered the protest site, said HR Khan, an advocate participating in the Shaheen Bagh protest. “They created chaos all around, scaring and threatening people,” Khan told Newslaundry.
Khan also said Asif Muhammad Khan, former Congress legislator from Okhla, has allegedly filed a complaint against Luqmaan and the man who accompanied him.
Luqmaan he “always” carries his weapon with him. “Some people were planning to ask the protesters to make way for children who have their exams from next week. I went to them when I was called. I did not remember that I had a weapon. This is my mistake and I'm realising it,” he added. “I did not take my gun out, didn't show it to anyone. Someone by chance touched my gun while talking to me.”
Namra, a middle-aged woman who was at the protest site, said, “I was so scared to see somebody holding a gun in this area. I have my kids around. And the stage is closest to where the women are usually seated, so I was at a very short distance from the gunman. We were scared and some women even started crying. There was chaos all around. But thankfully, whoever has got this done to scare us off has failed and we will continue our protest, no matter what.”
Currently, the older protesters are huddled in a group, trying to figure out what should happen next. “We are trying to think of ways to avoid this from happening in the future," one of them said.