Dairy farmer or an unlikely 'radical'? Family of Shaheen Bagh shooter claims he is 'framed'

The shooter had reportedly shouted 'Hindu Rashtra Zindabad' before opening fire

kapil-gujjar-shaheen-bagh-pti Police take away an unidentified person after he allegedly opened fire in the Shaheen Bagh area of New Delhi | PTI

Two days after a youth fired a pistol at a group of anti-CAA protesters near the Jamia university, another man fired two rounds in the air at Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of the protest against the citizenship law. He was taken into custody. The man, who identified himself as Kapil Gujjar, chanted Jai Shree Ram and said, hamare desh me aur kisi ki nahi chalegi, sirf Hindu ki chalegi (only Hindus shall have a say in our country, no one else)," as he was taken into custody by the Delhi Police.  No one was injured in the incident.

"The accused fired in air near police barricades. He was overpowered by police personnel and taken into custody. Further investigation is on," Chinmoy Biswal, Deputy Commissioner of Police (southeast) said, reported PTI. The police said they are verifying his identity. According to eyewitnesses, the man shouted "Hindu Rashtra Zindabad" and fired two rounds. 

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had earlier claimed during a poll rally in Delhi that "those who support terrorists in Kashmir are staging protest at Shaheen Bagh". The incident also comes days after a local contractor armed with a gun had come to the site and asked the people to end the protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.  

Notwithstanding the unnerving incident, many people thronged the protest site to express solidarity with the protestors. Many of them sung the national anthem while others offered namaz. The protestors also raised slogans against the Delhi Police.

On Thursday, a youngster had fired on anti-CAA protesters at Jamia Millia Islamia injuring a student in the presence of police personnel, triggering massive protest by the students against the police inaction.

Hundreds of people, including women and children, have been protesting since December 15 at Shaheen Bagh, which has attracted attention across the country among those opposing the CAA, but at the same time the agitation has been severely criticised by others, including the BJP Union ministers and leaders.

Who was the shooter?

Gujjar is not radical, and is a "simple boy" who was "tired" of travelling extra kilometers as roads are blocked due to protests at Shaheen Bagh, said his family members to PTI.  "On normal days it takes two hours to reach the Badarpur Dairy [in south Delhi]. He had to travel just 10 kilometres. But due to the protests, he had to travel 35 kilometres and he reached home at 1am. He was tired with this but definitely not that disturbed to do anything like that [shooting]," Kapil's uncle Fateh Singh said.

Kapil's brother said, "I think he has been framed. Some could have instigated him". Kumar said the family has a "good reputation" in the village and has rented out houses to eight Muslim families. "He has Muslim friends and they visit our home for festivals. He never had any hatred for Muslims or extremist thoughts for any religion. He didn't have any association too with political groups. His every day routine is limited to dairy business," he said. Kapil or anyone in his family doesn't have any licensed or unlicensed arms, a family member said, adding that he is not a very outgoing person, but maintained good relations with all residents in village. The Dallupura village, which is Gujjar-dominated, too claims that Kapil has been framed.

The Gujjar family has a small dairy unit in Dallupura and a larger one at Badarpur, and the business was getting affected as Road No 13 at Kalindi Kunj is blocked, Kapil's father Gaje Singh claimed. "The family is shocked. He left without informing anyone and all thought he went to play cricket," said Singh, who had contested the assembly elections from Jangpura on a BSP ticket in 2010, but lost.

"We have no idea how he has done it, from where he procured the weapon. He is a very simple boy and never messes with anyone," he said. Twenty-five-year-old Kapil, who has a one-year-old daughter, wanted to become a reporter, but he dropped out of college and joined the dairy business, family members said at his two-storey house in the village. He had joined the media course at IMS College in Delhi after passing out from a local school at Vasundhara, they said.

Kapil didn't have any "radical thoughts" or influence of any religious or political groups, his family members claimed "He is a simple boy who can only think about buffaloes and expanding his father's dairy business. Today at 12:30pm he left his house after greeting me like every day. I thought he left for the dairy in Badarpur, but later in the evening, we learnt from news channels that he has been arrested for firing," said Satish Kumar, a relative.

Politicians react

Reacting to the incident, AAP leader Sanjay Singh said they had already warned the Election Commission that a conspiracy is being hatched by the BJP to postpone the polls. "There is no law and order in the country. The gun-toting men are not making Delhi their bastion. We have been seeking time from the Election Commission since yesterday so that we can make them aware of these developments but they have not given us any time," he said.

However, senior BJP leader B.L. Santhosh insinuated involvement of party's rivals in the recent shooting incidents, saying the "great drama party of Delhi is becoming too costly for the country".  "One more drama today. This time the gun shot is near Shaheen Bagh. The acts are looking too dramatic to be real. Person brandishes gun...shoots couple of bullets...shouts some words against a community .The great drama party of Delhi is becoming too costly for the country," he tweeted.

In a veiled attack on the BJP over the incident, the Congress said the shooter has changed but the ideology pulling the trigger in 1948 or 2020 has remained the same. Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill tweeted, "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 alleged. On Monday, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur while addressing a election rally, had raised the slogan of desh ke gaddaron ko' (traitors in the country) as the crowd responded with goli maaron sa***n ko'.

The next day, BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma said protesters at Shaheen Bagh could "enter homes and rape our sisters and daughters.  The Election commission asked the BJP to remove both Thakur and Verma from the list of star campaigners. 

It also barred Thakur from campaigning for three days and Verma for four days for their controversial remarks. 

-Inputs from PTI