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Delhi riots: Calm returns, fear remains on Delhi streets

Chand Bagh, Khajuri Khas and Bhajanpura — the worst-affected areas in the violent clashes that took place some days ago, are seemingly peaceful as of now as the traffic on main roads increases. More people are seen on streets; tales of Hindu-Muslim camaraderie in the midst of widespread destruction instill a sense of hope.

Last Updated: Feb 28, 2020, 12.56 PM IST
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New Delhi: Four days after communal violence erupted in north-east Delhi, normalcy is slowly returning to this riot-torn area. However, a cloud of fear and insecurity still lingers among the residents. Burnt remnants at places like the dargah in Chand Bagh which was torched, and the bricks and stones that layered the main road in Khajuri Khas, are stark reminders of what happened.

While temples have been left unaffected, a rare Hindu-Muslim camaraderie, especially among neighbours who protected each other, has ignited hope in the minds of people here although the death toll has crossed 30.

With no fresh incidents being reported from Chand Bagh, Khajuri Khas and Bhajanpura–– the worst hit areas–– the police were seen clearing the streets and driving away curious onlookers on Thursday. Traffic on the main roads increased by evening and more people were seen walking on the streets, although the situation appears to be slightly tense.


ET Bureau
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Residents of Chand Bagh, a Muslim-dominated area, claimed that a mob had started pelting stones from Bhajanpura towards their locality on Monday morning. Bhajanpura is located opposite to Chand Bagh. Firing also took place from the rooftops of buildings in Bhajanpura.

Some youths hurled a petrol bomb at the dargah, which is adjacent to a police chowki, setting it on fire. The entry gates of the dargah were broken and the items inside were burnt. Locals allege that the mob was pelting stones in front of the police.

“The mob set fire to several shops in Chand Bagh. The police fired tear gas shells at whoever was trying to come out of the lanes. The shells hit people on their hands and backs, burning parts of their body,” a local who didn’t want to be identified said.

On Tuesday, violence again broke out in Chand Bagh. A shop selling fruit juice and dry fruits near the dargah was set on fire after the mob threw a petrol bomb at it.

The shop and all that it had were gutted. Oranges and watermelons, some of which were half burnt, along with their plastic containers, lay on the ground outside the shop. The shed of the shop had fallen on them, crushing most of the fruits. Now, only the cows are eating them, even as the owner Dilshad Ahmed (40) sighed and looked away.

“There were 50 to 60 of them. They threw petrol bombs from the other side. There was no police presence then,” he said.

Another local said that a resident was shot in his leg, but was not allowed to move out of the area by the police.

“Those who attacked this area were shouting Hindu slogans. We have Hindus living among us. They are much less in number, but we ensured that they were not hurt. None of the temples here were affected,” a local claimed.

At nearby Moonga Nagar, a mob coming from the direction of Chand Bagh on Tuesday afternoon climbed on the roof of a temple, but they didn’t enter and damage it, claimed Gulab Singh and the temple’s panditji, Gokul Chand. “They climbed on the roof and threw bricks and stones at the houses and buildings in front of them. They were shouting Islamic slogans and had damaged some of the houses occupied by Hindus,” Singh said.

A Muslim family in the same lane where the temple is located said that their neighbours, mostly Hindus, had protected them.

Locals at Khajuri Khas, located opposite to Moonga Nagar, claimed that the mob coming from the direction of Chand Bagh had gathered at a bridge leading to Khajuri Khas and reached the roof of the house of a local nigam parshad in the locality.

Claiming that the parshad helped them, the mob threw stones and petrol bombs at the people and their houses from the ground and the rooftop. “They set fire to some of the buildings,” said Ankush, a local resident.

“A mob had set fire to my motorcycle servicing store on Monday, causing damages worth about Rs 2 crore. They also stole the cash there. I had called the police. They didn’t pick up the phone the first time. The next time they said they are sending people. They came only five hours after the incident,” Shiv Kumar Raghav claimed.

When asked about the alleged police inaction and negligence, Joint Commissioner of Police (eastern range) Alok Kumar said, “This is false and incorrect. If we had not helped the locals we would not have had an injured DCP and lost a Head Constable. We have attended several distress calls. Our local DCP himself went and rescued two Muslim families.”

Bhajanpura, which is located nearby, also witnessed widespread violence. A petrol pump was set on fire, gutting the vehicles, including police motorcycles there, claimed the staff. Nearby residents also alleged that shops belonging to Muslims were looted, indicating that the mob comprised not only outsiders but locals as well.

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