New Delhi: People from both the Hindu and Muslim communities have blamed BJP leader Kapil Mishra for lighting the first flame that led to communal clashes in northeast Delhi. At least 42 people, till now, have lost their lives in the clashes.
The Sunday Guardian spoke to the locals residing in Jafrabad, Maujpur, Chand Bagh, Brijpuri which bore the brunt of the communal attacks and all of them said that it was after the speech given by Mishra on Sunday, 23 February, that the violence erupted.
In his speech that he gave at Maujpur Chowk in Jafrabad, in the presence of Ved Prakash Surya, the DCP (Northeast) of Seelampur, Mishra had give a three-day ultimatum to clear the roads in Jafrabad and Chand Bagh of protesters failing which, he said, people will hit the streets.
However, the three-day ultimatum of Mishra, which should have ended on 26 February, it appears, expired within hours of his speech ending.
The first instance of violence, a stone-pelting free for all from both Hindu and Muslim mobs soon started on Sunday evening.
“It started on Sunday soon after Mishra gave his speech. A mob of rioters, shouting pro-Hindu and anti-Muslim slogans, started to move from Maujpur chowk towards Maujpur metro station and soon they started pelting stones at the buildings that were identified as owned by Muslims. This led to a retaliatory stone pelting from the Muslim side and it began,” a Maujpur local whose property, too, was damaged, and who was standing with people from both the communities, said.
The Sunday Guardian went to the spot to verify that indeed it was his property that was damaged, whereas the other nearby buildings belonging to the Hindu community showed no sign of any damage.
A group of five senior citizens who were sitting on a khat, having hookah and playing cards at “Durga gali”, Maujpur, said that it was for the first time that a communal disturbance had taken place in the area where both Hindu and Muslims have been living together for years now.
“Woh ladke (referring to Kapil Mishra) ke karan mahol bigda. Sab shaant tha uske pehle tak (It is because of Mishra that the situation got vitiated, everything was peaceful till then).” the senior most of them quipped before going back into evaluating his deck of joker and king.
Ashok Kumar, a resident of Brijpuri, who had recently opened a cosmetic shop, looked a broken man as he removed the burnt shelves and a burnt cycle that the rioters had destroyed. Just 100 meters ahead, 50-year-old Mehtab Qamar, too, was going through the same sentiments. Qamar’s shop of acrylic paints, too, now looked like a black canvas.
“What will I do now? I watched from the top floor as they started breaking the shutters and pouring petrol of my shop which is at the ground floor. When it was clear that there was nothing I could do, I took out my family members from the back door and fled. The media will go away after talking to us, the rioters too have gone. Kapil Mishra has suffered no loss, it is ‘small’ people like us who are suffering,” a dejected Kumar said.
Breaking down, Mehtab Qamar said that when his shop was being attacked on Monday he was not in the locality. “I, along with his family members, had fled to a relative’s place on Sunday evening itself. I got a call from my neighbours that my shop has been burnt and looted. I have just come (on Thursday). You can see for yourself what they have done to my shop. What was my fault? I am an old man; I have so many Hindu friends. People like Kapil Mishra will suffer for ages for what they have done,” he said as he held the hand of his wife who, too, was weeping inconsolably.
Jitendra Kumar, who runs a medicine shop by the name of Pandit Medicos in the Brijpuri area, a shop that was burnt down, lock, stock and barrel, was crestfallen as he was asking around the people from the Muslim community who had gathered around him as to why someone would burn down a medical shop. “95% of my clients are Muslims. I have been running this shop for 25 years and I have absolutely no interest in politics. Kapil Mishra is responsible for this. What will I do now? How will I run my home,” Kumar asked us, as people around him in skull caps consoled him.
(With inputs from Dibyendu Mondal and Pratyush Deep Kotoky)