Communal clashes injure over a dozen people in Trilokpuri (Source: Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

NEW DELHI: Its eight in the evening, curfew has finally been imposed by a reluctant administration in the disturbed areas of Trilokpuri that erupted after two days of heightened tensions that was ignored by the authorities until people from different communities clashed, arson and violence took over, and at least 15 persons if not more were injured.

Inside the police station at Kalyan Puri, there is a chaos, everyone is unsettled. The senior IPS officers stationed here screams indiscriminately at his juniors, while reporters wait on the benches out in the corridor for a quote from him about the situation on the ground.

Amidst all this, Shamala, 19, runs through the corridors of the police station, crying inconsolably, in search of her two brothers, Mumtaaz and Sarfaraz, both residents of block number fifteen, who were picked up during the day by the police. Instead of being listened to she is dragged out by a constable, on the instruction of his seniors. It was clear that the police was in no mood to help the traumatised and terrified residents on this issue.

We encountered Shamala again, as soon as we came out the station, as she remained seated firmly on the pavement outside the police station with two other women, both of them wearing veils. She tells us, “My brothers are innocent people, they never indulged in any rioting, they are too busy to earn a living for us and our ailing mother, I just want to know where have they been taken by the police, so that we can arrange for some money and a lawyer to get them released, if they are not released, how will we survive, they are the bread earners of the family.” Stories of ‘disappearances’ and ‘fake encounters’ are clearly haunting her.

But Shamala, is not the only one in this locality, there were many others in Trilokpuri, both Hindu and Muslim, who said that their men had been taken into custody by the police without charges, or legal procedure. The police predictably rebutted this, insisting that those picked up were actively participating in the riots.

According to official records so far 70 people have been taken into police custody, all of them on charges of Rioting. The minor scuffle that broke out between the two communities on the night of Diwali over the issue of religious hymns and delay in idol immersion placed outside a mosque of the block number 20 of the Trilokpuri area, erupted into a full-fledged communal clash between the two religious communities by the night of Oct 24. The situation was completely out of control by the next day.

Trilokpuri has the dubious distinction of being home to the worst violence against the Sikhs in November 1984, where residents from here were pulled out by Hindu mobs and burnt alive. Bonfires of burning bodies were lit, with no police in sight. At least 350 Sikhs were reported killed from Trilokpuri alone, if not more. The area has remained tense at levels, although this is the first communal clash—this time between Hindus and Muslims—since November 1984.

Ramesh Singh, who runs a tea stall in the area, accuses RSS of playing a dominant role behind instigating the violence. He says, “It is the first time that I have witnessed that during Diwali, idols were placed outside a mosque, never before this has happened, it was intended to create trouble to polarise voters before the forthcoming elections.”

The local AAP MLA, Raju Dhingan is clear that the BJP was behind the violence. “ BJP knows that it cannot win the elections here, considering the kind of work undertaken by me in the locality, Sunil Vaidya ( the former BJP MLA ) was left with no choice than to polarize communities on the basis of religion and hence this in front of you,” he said. The former BJP MLA was not available for any comments on this.

Accounts of an eyewitness, who refused to be named fearing repercussions, narrated how the former BJP MLA Vaidya reached the site where the idols had been placed and declared that no one should dare remove the idols from the place next to the mosque. He said that a temple will be constructed at exactly the same place. This created a furore amongst the Muslims.

As we moved further towards Block number 15, the roads were littered with brick bats that had been used in the clashes earlier.

A local resident, Shafaque Khan, sensed a conspiracy behind the violence , He said, “ I wonder how come brick bats were made available to the rioters in such a short period of time. Does that not hint towards something?” However, visibly scared he does not want to be drawn into naming individuals or the political party behind the violence.

Surendra Pandey, who works with an IT company and is a resident of Block number 14, adjacent to 15 was terrified to look at the situation, as he was way back from his office. “I was taken aback when I came across the situation, it is horrifying, we have Muslim friends just in the neighbourhood, we wish them Eid and they reciprocate it on Diwali, How can things turn out to be so bad”? he says in anguish.

Anita, a local resident of the locality and a Dalit activist, articulates the political implications of the violence. “They have already started saying that this was a clash between Dalit’s and Muslims of the area, some newspapers have also reported that the area is inhabited by 80% Dalit’s, I being one their local leaders can vouch that they might have participated in the violence, in the spur of the moment as they might have been drawn into it by vested interests, but they are certainly not the people who have instigated it.’ This narrative of Dalit Muslim violence is a larger conspiracy to break down any formidable alliance that existed between the two communities she said.

Poonam Pandey, another resident of Block 14, blamed the Muslim community for inciting this violence. What is the big thing about idols being placed outside a mosque, why can’t they be, why is there this intolerance. They threw stones on us first, we only responded,” she said.

However, there is no clear account of who hurled the stones first and who was the one to incite the tension with both sides, and different individuals, hurling varied accusations.

Ankit, a 14 year old came up to look at our cameras and then said, “I want to tell you something.’’ And perhaps his account was the most correct and honest, “people who we did not know, and recognise were in our locality in the morning! They shouted slogans, Har Har Mahadev and started hurling stones.”

But then came the set response, “ I have decided not to be friends with Muslims in school any more , they fight with us , they are bad people and it’s better to stay away from them .”

Farzana, a local from block number 15, helplessly exclaims, “”I have never witnessed such violence in our lifetime, if there is someone who can help us, its god, police will not stand by us”,

The violence so far has not claimed any life but the injured are being treated in different hospitals of the city.

Sanjay Beniwal, Additional Commissioner of Police, told The Citizen that the situation was under control. No fresh accounts of violence have been reported. “We have deployed our men at every nook and corner of the area, barricades have been put up and everybody is being frisked , our men are stand are standing at the stop of the roofs of many houses to ensure that no further brick batting should take place. I am proud that my men are carrying out a stupendous job,” he said.