Residents of Chand Bagh in northeast Delhi shared horrific accounts of how their homes and shops were torched in the communal violence while they kept calling the police control room, where they were allegedly snubbed by officials.
IMAGE: A security personnel conducts patrolling in Maujpur area of the riot-affected north east Delhi, on Wednesday. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo
Distraught and scared, Muslims gathered at Chand Bagh to talk about their innumerable calls to the Delhi Police.
The colonies of Bhajanpura and Chand Bagh, which are divided by just a main road, are now standing divided on views of each other after the violence in northeast Delhi over the past three days that has claimed 24 lives so far.
Both groups, however, believe that the rioters came masked and in groups on vehicles.
“While I ran a chicken shop, my two brothers had fruit stalls. All our shops are completely gutted,” Mohd Azad told PTI.
“I called the police control room several times and I was told, ‘What is making you scared? You are not dead in the fire‘.”
“When one person‘s call was rejected, more people called, but the police turned down the calls and said similar statements to them,” Azad said.
When PTI ed at least two senior police officials about the allegations, they did not respond.
According to the residents, Chand Bagh has 70 per cent of Muslim population, while Bhajanpura has 80 per cent of Hindu population.
The streets of Chand Bagh colony start with the dargah of Syed Chand Peer Baba, who is revered equally by Muslims and Hindus since last four decades.
Interestingly, the same shrine is looked after by Hindu Chaudhary community.
“When the riots broke out, we couldn‘t save the shrine as that was the first spot of attack,” said Salim Iqbal, a resident.
“However, when the mob approached further, we saved the temple in the area — hardly 50 metres from Baba‘s shrine — knowing that if this temple is vandalised, the clashes of northeast Delhi would have spread across the city,” Iqbal said.
“We also sought the help of Hindus and convinced those men to stop and not attack the temple”.
Akash Singh grew up in Chand Bagh and has been staying here for the past 19 years.
“We have never had communal issues before. There are shops of Hindus here, Balaji Sweets, Jain Wholesale Market, Gupta Timber, Durga Tiles and many stores here since last 30-40 years.
“If Muslims from here went to torch homes of Hindus in Bhajanpura, then why didn‘t they torch these shops first?” he asked.
The Chand Bagh residents blamed the alleged hate speeches made by certain leaders for the situation, adding that it had given more encouragement to the rioters.
Ibrahim Sulaiman said the clashes began from the opposite road, pointing towards Bhajanpura, alleging that police were also with the rioters.
“The police have gone around torching the first few shops of Chand Bagh and we have videos of the same. We are ready to even submit these videos to the investigators,” Sulaiman said.
Another resident Salim said the shrine, shops and some houses in Chand Bagh were gutted, while a petrol pump, shops, marriage halls suffered stone-pelting and vandalism in the Bhajanpura side.
When a police convoy lead by a joint commissioner of police passed from the area, the Chand Bagh residents expressed immense fear of being attacked again.
The police officials assured them of deploying a deputy commissioner of police-rank officer and around 30-40 police personnel to ensure both the colonies are secured.
Satish Chaudhary, a Bhajanpura resident said, they were sitting on the roadside shops chatting like they do everyday, when they saw huge groups of masked men coming to the spot.
“They began shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram‘ and vandalising the shops even on this side, which is labelled as Hindu colony,” Chaudhary said.
“The rioters came here and vandalised on both sides to spark riots to make both communities fight.”
When the Bhajanpura residents were asked if they faced similar issues with the Delhi Police control room, they replied in negative.
The residents expressed anger on the alleged delay in police action, wondering about the aftermath of the violence on their businesses.
“The main Bhajanpura market is shut since last three days. We don‘t have milk, bread, electricity and basic amenities because of the clashes,” a wedding hall owner from Bhajanpura said.
“I have another shop in the main market and I don‘t have a choice but to keep it shut. We are losing on our business,” he added.