New Delhi: The shrill election campaign in Delhi took a violent turn on Thursday as an armed man opened fire at a group of protesters demonstrating against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), at Jamia Millia Islamia, injuring one protester, despite heavy police presence.

The gunman opened fire at the protesters who were marching towards Rajghat, shouting “Yeh lo Azadi" (take your freedom). The shooter was detained.

More protesters turned up after the incident and demonstrated against the shooting and the newly amended citizenship law.

The incident is likely to snowball into an electoral issue in the ongoing campaigning for the Delhi assembly polls. The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has directly blamed “instigating speeches" by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders as the cause of such incidents.

Union home minister Amit Shah said he had spoken to Delhi Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik and ordered a probe into the incident at Jamia Millia Islamia.

“The central government will not tolerate such type of incidents, and this will be seriously investigated and the culprit will not be spared," Shah said on Twitter.

Speaking to reporters, Praveer Ranjan, special commissioner of Delhi Police, said the injured Jamia student protester is “stable" as per doctors.

He said “the police couldn’t react immediately as (the) incident happened in a split second, but soon police overpowered him".

Soon after Shah’s intervention, the case was transferred to the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch.

With less than 10 days to go for the polls, campaigning has intensified, with heated exchanges between senior leaders of AAP and BJP. The two parties, as well as the Congress, are vying to win the elections to 70 assembly constituencies that will take place on 8 February, with results slated for 11 February.

“Home minister Amit Shah wants to disturb the environment of Delhi," said senior AAP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh. “First, they made their leaders give instigating speeches. The BJP can see itself being defeated in the Delhi elections. This conspiracy was hatched out of that fear. The home minister is conspiring to postpone the polls."

Protesters demonstrate against the shooting and the citizenship law, near Jamia Millia Islamia, on Thursday (Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint)
Protesters demonstrate against the shooting and the citizenship law, near Jamia Millia Islamia, on Thursday (Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

The two BJP leaders who have been accused of making provocative speeches, Union minister of state for finance Anurag Singh Thakur and BJP Lok Sabha MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma, were on Thursday pulled up by the Election Commission (EC).

The poll panel ordered a temporary ban on the two, finding their speeches violative of the model code of conduct.

Thakur has been banned from campaigning for 48 hours from 5pm on Thursday, while Verma cannot campaign for 96 hours. On Thursday, EC sent another show-cause notice to Thakur.

EC felt that the statements by the two leaders had the potential of aggravating “existing differences" or “create mutual hatred between different communities" and said an earlier order of keeping them out of BJP’s star campaigners list will remain in force.

Hours before EC’s order, Delhi chief minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal made an emotional appeal at a news conference on the controversial remarks by Verma and said it was up to the people of Delhi to decide if he (Kejriwal) was a “terrorist".

Senior AAP leaders also approached EC and filed a complaint against the “seditious" comment made by Verma.

The party has demanded that an FIR be registered against Verma and BJP Delhi state chief Manoj Tiwari for their comments.

Shaswati Das contributed to this story.

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