Nangloi or Nangloi Jat area of capital city New Delhi was a site of major rioting on Saturday (29 July). It was Muharram.
Members of the Muslim community carried out multiple Tazia processions. Tazia is a replica of the tomb of Imam Hussain Ibn Ali, grandson of Islam’s founder Prophet Mohammed, who is said to have died in battle on this day in 680 AD.
Some processions, after reaching the front of Surajmal Stadium, tried to enter the premises. Police stopped them, saying it was a deviation from the pre-planned route.
Enraged, the Muharram participants started pelting stones at policemen and government buses. Soon, the crowd was indulging in a large-scale attack.
Videos of the stone-pelting soon made their way to social media. In one of the videos, conductor of a government-run bus live-recorded the attack on the vehicle.
At least ten policemen were injured in the attack. Multiple vehicles were vandalised, their window paned cracked and seats damaged. Videos also emerged of cops thrashing the rioters with lathis and batons.
When Swarajya visited the spot two days later (31 July), paramilitary personnel were standing guard at various points and shops were closed. The only people who could be seen in the streets said they were guarding their mohallas from another communal flare-up.
They said the processions began at noon. Rioting took place around 6pm near Surajmal Stadium, where vandalised buses are still parked and pieces of broken window panes still strewn on the road. After lathicharge, the crowd dispersed, taking away the tomb replicas.
No incident took place in the night, a resident of Block B, Manoj Raigad, told Swarajya. Police were deployed the entire night.
A day after Muharram, a team of Bajrang Dal visited the area. They held a rally to “show support to the police”, a resident, Budhram Raigar, also from B Block, said, “The rally was attacked with stones.”
Along with Bajrang Dal members, nearby shops owned by Hindus were also attacked, he said.
Despite the fresh bout of violence, Budhram was in support of the Bajrang Dal rally. “It was needed,” he said.
Another resident, Santosh Kanhpuriya, said that “Hindus retaliated with greater force”. “Our side didn’t take it lying down. They pelted as many stones on the other side,” he said.
In Nangloi Phase 2, Block A is almost entirely Muslims while the rest — Block B, C, D and E — are dominated by Hindus. A large chunk of the Hindus are migrants from Pakistan’s Sindh who shifted to India during partition. Most of these Sindhis are from Raigar jaati, which comes under scheduled castes.
Among Hindus, other prominent groups in the area are Khatik, Valmiki and Sonkar, all of which come under scheduled castes.
In Block A, a resident, Mohammed Aslam, testified to rioting and stone-pelting on two consecutive days by members of his community, but accused the Bajrang Dal of provoking Muslims by raising certain slogans. Asked what slogans, he said they were “goli maaro salo ko” and “Jai Shri Ram”.
Asked about the violence on Muharram, he said that until last year, processions would take the Tazia to a ground near Surajmal Stadium for burial. This time, the police denied them the spot, following a green tribunal order, he said (Swarajya could not find the order online).
“It was some anti-social elements who indulged in stone-rioting,” he said.
Residents in the A-Block showed reluctance to talk, saying peace was fragile. In the Hindu colonies, residents were more forthcoming, but declined to get clicked for pictures. Shops in both colonies were closed.
Police Investigation And Recent Communal Incidents
As per various reports, the police have filed three separate cases for the rioting on Saturday (29 July). The first FIR was filed under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act at Nangloi police station for violence at Surajmal Stadium. The complainant is Nangloi SHO Prabhu Dayal.
The second FIR was filed for rioting at Nangloi Chowk. The complainant is law and order inspector at Nangloi police station, Nanag Ram.
The third FIR was filed for rioting neat the Metro station at Nangloi. The complaint is head constable, Mukesh Kumar. All these FIRs were filed on Sunday (30 July).
The first FIR says that organisers had agreed on a route where processions were to go towards Surajmal Stadium via the Metro station but take a u-turn from the Nangloi depot red light.
However, the participants began insisting on entering the Stadium, standing on rickshaws and carts and instigating others to enter. They were armed with swords, sticks and iron rods for the procession.
Police told the media that they are identifying the rioters through CCTVs. For this reason, streets in the A Block looked almost entirely empty and no shop was seen open.
Such bouts of violence, particularly between the Muslim community and the police or between Hindus and Muslims, are not uncommon in the capital city.
In June 2019, the lone Hindu colony in a congested market area dominated by the Muslim community was attacked after minor altercation over parking of vehicles between two residents named Sanjeev Gupta and Aas Mohammed.
Rumours began soon after claiming that a Muslim man was lynched by Hindus over parking. Around midnight, the Hindu colony was attacked and a temple situation at the entrance of the colony was desecrated. Residents said the idols were urinated upon. Read Swarajya’s ground report of the incident here.
In February 2020, three days of continuous rioting occurred in northwest Delhi after months-long sit-in protest staged by the Muslim community against Citizenship Amendment Bill had built considerable tension in the area.
Around 50 people were killed, including a policeman named Ratan Lal and a staff member of Intelligence Bureau named Ankit Sharma.
A year later, Hindu and Muslim communities came face-to-face again but rioting was averted when a resident of Mongolpuri area was stabbed to death by a group from the other community.
After Rinku’s family said that he was killed for asking donations for Ram temple and “taking Ram’s name”, Hindu organisations took out a rally in protest of the incident. Read Swarajya’s ground report here.
More recently, security personnel were deployed in Shahbad Dairy area after a girl from the Hindu community was killed and brutalised by her suspected boyfriend. Read Swarajya’s ground report here.
(Note: The ground visit was made by Prabhat Kumar. The story has been written by Swati Goel Sharma based on his inputs).
Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.
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