Communal divide deepens in riot-hit areas

Poornima Joshi/AM Jigeesh Bhajanpura/Khureji Khas (New Delhi) | Updated on February 28, 2020

A family moving out of the riot-affected N-E Delhi

Criminal charges against AAP councillor Tahir Hussain are ‘unfair, he was only protecting us’, claim his neighbours

Criminal charges against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain and exoneration of BJP’s Kapil Mishra has fuelled the already sharp communal divide in North-East Delhi especially in Khureji Khas where Hussain’s his neighbours believe that he has been wrongly charged.

After six days of rioting, calm seemed to be finally returning to North-East Delhi with the police having taken extra precautionary measures with the help of local maulanas to ensure that Friday prayers pass off peacefully. The death toll in the last six days since violence began on Sunday afternoon has gone up to 42 with four more fatalities being recorded at the city’s GTB Hospital. More than 250 people have been injured in the communal clashes spread across Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Chand Bagh, Khureji Khas and Bhajanpura.

Police and paramilitary patrolled streets in Bhajanpura and Khureji Khas where tempers still ran high and Hindus and Muslims blamed each other for the rioting and arson. In Khureji Khas, a crowd of neighbours gathered around AAP councillor Tahir Hussain’s three-storey factory-cum-residence to assert that he has been wrongly booked for the alleged murder of Intelligence Bureau operative Ankit Sharma.

Faizal Mirza, a neighbour, shows facebook pictures of a yesteryear Iftar party hosted by Tahir Hussain where he is posing with Kapil Mishra, who had defected to the BJP from AAP before the Delhi Assembly elections. Mishra has been at the centre of the storm of blame game in the Delhi riots after threatening anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protestors to “clear out or be cleared out”.

Speaking to BusinessLine, Mirza accused that, “Kapil Mishra triggered these riots. He was a friend of Tahir Hussain. I had also attended this Iftar party and I saw that Mishra and Hussain celebrated together. Now Hussain has been charged with murder because Mishra created a riot.”

Mirza and a host of others gathered to recount the horrors of the violence that started on Sunday night. Illyas from Chand Bagh said, “There were mobs with weapons attacking our homes. There was firing from Mohan Nursing Home. No one has reported on that. Tahir Hussain was trying to save lives and now he has been booked. He helped a lot of people in this locality. In fact, it was the Delhi police who alerted him about the possible attack on him and took him away. Now, no one is talking about Mishra and the media has shifted it focus to Hussain,” he said.

In the neighbouring locality of Brijpuri, both communities are still seething from wounds inflicted in the three days’ rioting from February 23 to 26 when the police finally cracked down on the rioters.

Hindu shops, schools and homes were burnt by mobs on February 24 while apparently retaliatory violence claimed the life of a Maulana in a mosque along with his two young students from the madrasa attached to the mosque. “We are praying for peace to return. I have lost everything,” said Sanjay Kaushik, a businessman in Brijpuri whose home and shop were gutted in the fire.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Left MPs KK Ragesh and Binoy Vishwam visited the riot-hit areas. Ragesh told BusinessLine that the destruction to lives and properties are beyond imagination. He accused that “The administration allowed the riot, loot and murders to happen for 48 hours. The relief and rehabilitation works have not even started yet. The compensation announced is much less that the actual loss. The Centre and State governments should immediately assess the damages and losses and should provide compensation for the victims.”

Published on February 28, 2020

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