West Delhi communal clash leaves 25 injured

RiotersThe rioters torched 12 vehicles, including seven police vans, in the Tilak Vihar area on Thursday.

A communal clash between Sikhs and Valmikis erupted in West Delhi's Tilak Vihar on Thursday, leaving at least 25 injured, including five policemen. Three of the injured have gunshot wounds but police denied opening fire and claimed they only used water cannons, lathis and teargas shells to break up the clash.

The three men with gunshot wounds were identified as Mohar Singh, Sunny Singh and Raghunath. They are being treated at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital. One of them was shot in the neck while another was hit in the abdomen.

Three of the injured policemen are said to have head injuries. Seven police vehicles, including that of the district ACP, were damaged in the violence.

Sunny Singh (23), who owns a bangle shop in the area, alleged, "My friends and I had gathered to see what was happening. There was stone-pelting and the police opened fire. I was running away when the police shot at me."

The clashes broke out around 2 pm next to the Tilak Vihar police chowki. The chowki was vandalised by the rioters. One group targeted the chowki, claiming that the police were supporting the other side.

It's unclear what started the violence because there were conflicting versions. "Trouble began after some men began performing stunts on motorcycles in the area," Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.

According to eyewitnesses, a heated argument between members of the two communities led to the clash. "We don't know what started the argument. While some claimed a minor accident started it, others claimed the argument was over flying kites. Suddenly, some men began pelting stones," an eye-witness alleged.

An hour after the police brought the situation under control, members of both the communities continued to trade charges.

Chaman Singh, member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, alleged, "The Valmikis were armed with knives and guns. There was stone-pelting from both sides. The Valmikis entered our houses and began attacking people. They tried to burn our vehicles and the police outpost. There was also firing by the police."

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