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A Gunman Just Shot a Student in Delhi

VICE spoke with those present at the scene where the attacker went live on Facebook several times and then shouted “Ye lo azadi” before firing at an anti-CAA protest gathering.

by Hanan Zaffar and Fateh Veer Singh Guram
30 January 2020, 12:07pm

In a shocking incident, an armed man shot a student of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) outside the university campus in south Delhi. At around 1.30 PM today, the attacker, identified as 17-year-old Gopal Sharma—a resident of Jewar in the Greater Noida area of Uttar Pradesh—was walking around where the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters were present, openly brandished a gun and yelled slogans such as “Ye lo azadi (Take your freedom)” and “ Jai shri Ram (Long live Ram)”. Within a few minutes, he shot at a JMI student, Shadab Farukh Najar. Najar has now been moved to the trauma centre of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

It turns out that Sharma was on Facebook Live several times just before the attack. His last live video (one of the seven)—which shows him walking around outside JMI campus—has 1.1K views at the time of writing this, and has responses varying from “Great job” and “I am proud of u” to “Killer, murderer.” Rambhakt Gopal, as his Facebook account calls him, also uploaded several posts in which he wrote “Khel khatam (Game over)” and expressed “revenge” from the anti-CAA protesters. Sharma's Facebook profile is currently suspended.

delhi CAA protest attack shooting
A screen-grab of one of the Facebook Live videos uploaded by Gopal Sharma.

While there is no official statement of what exactly went down, VICE spoke to students who were present when the events unfolded. “We were on the road that goes to Holy Family hospital when suddenly, a man came on that road and brandished a pistol, and continued to walk on that road for some time. He then asked the crowd, "Who wants azadi?" And then he shot,” Prabhat Tiwari, a JMI student who happened to be near Najar when he was shot, told VICE. “After the shooting, we saw him (Shadab) bleeding from his hand.”

Another eyewitness on the site said that this took place as Jamia students were marching towards a memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, to commemorate his death anniversary.

Midhat Samra, a JMI student who was outside the campus with his friend, says she saw Najar along with some media persons present there, standing next to “a person carrying a pistol with him”. “One of the media persons shouted, ‘He has a pistol, please catch him!’ but the police did not move an inch. Then all of a sudden, he shot Shadab, who then got injured,” says Samra, who is currently at AIIMS with Najar.

Armaan Chaudhary, a school student who was also present when the incident took place, said that the man screamed “Delhi Police Zindabad” right before he heard a loud bang. “A few people thought a tyre had burst. A couple of seconds later, there was a loud commotion and we saw a student bleeding from his hand,” says Chaudhury. “The attacker ran towards the police, and we saw that the police allowed him to move about freely."

Eyewitnesses also claim that even though he was injured, Najar wasn't allowed by the Delhi Police to cross the barricade. “We told the police he had been shot and requested them to let him go but they didn't relent,” says Tiwari. “The police did not remove a barricade; he had to climb it and that is how he managed to get to the hospital.”

In the meantime, reports say that Gopal has still not been arrested, even though he has been detained. “We will file a case against the person. He has been taken under detention. Rest of the details will be given in due course of time,” a Delhi Police official present at the site told VICE.

On January 28, another man had entered the anti-CAA protest site of Shaheen Bagh and brandished a weapon before he was overpowered by protesters. Even though the incident was caught on camera and the video was all over social media, the police said they are yet to receive a complaint on the matter. The man allegedly wanted to get the protesters off the road. These events have caused massive concern, especially because earlier this week, Union Minister Anurag Thakur was caught saying, “Desh ke gaddaro ko, Goli maaro saalo ko (Shoot the traitors)” during a pro-CAA rally.

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