Home Cities Nerves frayed in tense Jahangirpuri

Nerves frayed in tense Jahangirpuri

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Hundreds of police officers, from special commissioners to constables, manned the road from north-west Delhi’s Jahangirpuri to the Kushal Cinema junction on Saturday night following clashes between Hindu and Muslim groups in the evening.

There was a sense of tension and fear in the area, with doors of houses closed and shutters of shops downed although some residents were out to survey the scene marked by broken glass, bricks and stones, damaged cars and a burnt scooter. Police barricaded the road as a security measure.

The clashes broke out around 5.30pm and both communities blamed each other for the provocation. While the Hindu group said Muslims started pelting stones, the Muslim residents said the Hindu procession attendees incited the violence through sloganeering.

The sequence of events was further muddied as videos began circulating on social media suggesting various versions. HT could not independently verify the videos.

Residents said clashes broke out primarily through three blocks of Jahangirpuri with residents from the Hindu-dominated G and H blocks on one side and those from the Muslim-dominated C block on the other. Residents of both sides said “outsiders” were involved in the incident.

Mastan, a resident of C block, said the processions had been going on since around 1.30pm but they were peaceful. However, a procession that passed around 5.30pm incited violence.

“The group, all outsiders I believe, were raising slogans derogatory to our community. They said we’ll have to chant “Ram Ram” if we have to stay in India. We had been ignoring that but then a few men entered the C block mosque and began to hoist saffron flags. That’s when we lost our cool and pulled him down,” said Mastan.

Gauri Shankar, an e-rickshaw driver and resident of G block who was part of the procession, said they were crossing a mosque in C block when the scuffle broke out. “As the procession was crossing, people started pelting stones and those in the procession started running,” he said.

Residents of G and H blocks showed their vandalised shops and vehicles and blamed Muslims. “Stone pelting started from the roof of the mosque. It was a planned attack. They had swords, country-made pistols, stones and bricks to attack us. They entered the streets and tried to damage property,” said Sumit Kumar, a resident.

Police did not comment on the sequence of events that led to the clash and said the matter was under investigation.

Locals said that at the time of the clashes, only four policemen were present and were trying to defuse the situation. “If more policemen were present, this situation wouldn’t have escalated. They came half an hour later,” alleged Sajid, a local.

Police denied this and said that there were 40-50 personnel and that the violence did not escalate and only one civilian was injured.

Another resident, Wasim Qureshi, said Hindus and Muslims have been living in the area peacefully and without any problems but “outsiders” caused the clashes.

Residents on both sides were visibly shaken on Saturday night, wary of the possibility of escalation the next day.

Special commissioner of police (zone 1) Dependra Pathak, who was at the spot, said there is no violence in the area and the number of police personnel is adequate. “Police are here to ensure peace and safety of the citizens. We also request citizens not to follow fake news reports. We will take strict action against the rioters. Some of them have been identified.”

Delhi police officers said they will examine CCTV footage and look at videos to identify rioters.

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