An uneasy calm at Jahangirpuri a day after the violence

Residents recount Saturday’s events with confusion and anger; local businesses suffer

Residents recount Saturday’s events with confusion and anger; local businesses suffer

Shattered glass lay strewn on the deserted roads of northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri on Sunday even as an uneasy calm prevailed among the members of the two communities, a day after a communal clash broke out here. 

Locals told The Hindu that the first ‘Shobha Yatra’ rally started at around 11:30 a.m. with only 50 persons. But over time, the headcount kept increasing. Eventually, around 1,000 persons are believed to have been part of the third and the final rally, which took place at 6 p.m., soon after which violence was reported in the area.

“The police did nothing even as the mob threw stones at the mosque and attempted to vandalise it…They had planned the procession in a way that allowed them to attack our religious place…They claim we started pelting stones from the mosque. Why would anyone store stones inside a masjid?” asked a local, Shoaib.

Zahiuddin Islam, 50, was as busy tending to his cold drink stall at Kushal Chowk when he saw a melee outside the mosque. “I saw people running helter-skelter so, I shut my shop out of fear and fled the spot…I thought that they might come for my shop too,” Islam said.

Contrary claims

However, other a few others claim a different series of events unfolded in the area on Saturday evening.

Akshay, 18, a resident, said, “We had taken permission to carry out the peaceful procession throughout the day and at around 6 p.m. when we were returning home, we came under a shower of stones. They started the violence and damaged our vehicles.”

“We have never obstructed prayers offered by members of the other community. So, why was rally impeded?” asked Shashi, another resident.

Affected businesses

What is undisputed is that the businesses of shop owners and local vendors has been hurt in the aftermath of the violence. 

He fears returning to the same place to open his stall. He feels he may have lost his only source of livelihood forever. “I used to earn anywhere around Rs. 300 per day but now with all the police deployment, it is impossible to do my job. Even my family doesn’t want me to set up my stall in the same area,” Islam said.

Similarly, Mohd. Haneef, closed his barber shop and told his three employees to leave for their homes, after hearing of the clashes.

“The situation turned tense when they took out the third procession from the bylanes of C-Block even when several residents told them not to do so…they never take out three rallies but this time the motive felt different. Inflammatory slogans were being blared from their megaphones,” Mr. Haneef said.

He added that there has never been any instance of animosity among the residents of the two communities. “We take part in their festivals and eat their prasad and they take part in our Iftar. There has never been such a confrontation in the past. All of us have lived in harmony,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mohd. Ashif, one of the neighbours of the prime accused, Anshar, said that the latter only tried to intervene and calm the situation down through dialogue when the tempers on both sides were running high.

“I know him for the last two years. He has alwasy help resolve difficult situations peacefully. He is never one to incite violence. I don’t know why was he arrested,” said Mohd. Ashif.

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