NEW DELHI : They’re usually mocked, feared and ostracized, but a group of 15 eunuchs emerged as heroic saviours when Trilokpuri erupted in an orgy of violence.

As a mob armed with swords and stones charged towards Block 35, the eunuchs stood at the entrance and threatened to start taking off their clothes if the angry men didn’t turn back. It’s a threat that eunuchs often employ to extort money from people but this time, they were doing it for a noble cause and incredibly high stakes.

The threat worked this time, too, and the mob backed off.

Not stopping at that, the same group has started a sort of sanitation drive, giving brooms to both Hindus and Muslims and asking them to clean the streets littered with stones and shards of glass. Though there is tension in all blocks of Trilokpuri, in block 35, this group ensures that peace prevails. “The condition of the area was so bad that people weren’t able to even walk on the roads. Sanitation staff hasn’t come after the riots. Someone has to clean these streets as we all have to live here in the end,” Laila Sa, the chief of the group, who has been living here since 1976, told TOI.

Delhi police peronnels in action druing Communal riots at Trilokpuri in East Delhi.

Gutted shops in the neighbouring blocks, numbers 27 and 28, serve as a grim reminder of the violence. To ensure that violence doesn’t seep into their neighbourhood, the eunuchs and other residents take turns to guard the gates. “We sit outside on the benches all the time. Iron gates are installed at the entrance, segregating one block from another. We take turns to guard the gate,” said Laila.

Despite assurances by the eunuchs, two Muslim families that lived in the block have shifted out. “When they left, we all felt very bad. Even the Hindus in this block assured them but in such a situation nothing works. Even when they were getting in the rickshaw outside the block, we asked them to stop,” said Laila.

But the Hindus that TOI spoke to in this block and Muslims in the neighbouring 27 block do not know how the riots started. Most of them feel it is an outside job and this situation is imposed on them. Anuj, a resident of the block, had his shop in block 20, where the riots had started. “My shop is gone and I’m sitting at home for the past four days. But I don’t hate other community people for it.”