NEW DELHI: At a ration shop near Kushal Chowk, barely 200 meters away from the mosque where the communal clash during Saturday’s Hanuman Jayanti Shobha Yatra broke out in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, Amit Kumar, is charitable in his comments over harmony between Hindus and Muslims.
But, with a pause and some caution, he has a serious rethink.
He first blames the outsiders, the organisers of the Shobha Yatra, and then shifts equal blame to Bangladeshis illegally living in G block for disturbing “mahaul”.
“Everyone lives in peace and minds their business here. It all started with an argument between the rally participants and local Muslims in front of the mosque. Muslims, most of them Bangladeshis, started pelting stones on Hanuman Bhakts. A commotion ensued and the participants ran for their life,” he says, recollecting the incident.
“They abused our women and threatened them with rape,” he adds.
The 39-year-old confirms the fears running across the neighbourhood of Jahangirpuri.
“We don’t feel secure here after 11 pm,” he quips, almost unapologetically. This theme runs concurrent to the larger settings of the Saturday’s clash.
His fear is also visible in the way Jahangirpuri, home to both Hindus and Muslims, has its territorial jurisdictions and divide. While Block C is largely Muslim-dominated with a significant number of Muslims with their roots in Bangladesh, Block G, bifurcated by Kushal Chowk, has a significant Hindu population with a few Muslim houses.
Dheeraj Kumar, an auditor working with a CA firm, says that the clash may have happened due to the non-participation of locals in one of the rallies.
“Two yatras passed peacefully without any untoward incident like it has been happening for so many years. These two rallies were taken out by locals. But the third yatra came from Adarsh Nagar, around 2.5 km from Jahangirpuri. You won’t find a single person in this locality who participated in the third rally,” he says.
Sitting on a large boulder, almost tumbling towards a paralysis on Dhobi Ghat Lane, Ganesh, a man in his 30s, who works in the next-door Azadpur Mandi, remembers that the mob even broke the idol of Lord Hanuman and vandalised vehicles belonging to local Hindus.
“We don’t engage much with them (pointing towards Muslim dominated C Block). Hame unse kuchh khas lena dena nahi hai. We never interfere in their rallies, processions or other religious activities. But they attacked the yatra yesterday which was a pre-planned conspiracy. It seems they had planned it well in advance,” says Ganesh.
Dharmendra, a businessman, refers to all Muslims as illegal Bangladeshis, while pinning the blame for violence on them. “They started settling here around 20 years ago. The area was peaceful until the last few years. But now, they have made the life of locals very difficult. They are always involved in petty to big crimes such as chain snatching, eve-teasing, theft, and brawl,” he adds.
In street number 600, of Jagangirpuri’s G block, another local Gaurang, says Muslims and Hindus live in amity. “We only participate in each other’s festivals. Otherwise, there are no interactions,” he says.
“The chowk works like a border between India and Pakistan. Pakistan lives in C block,” says a physically disabled man.
There are of course cases where friendships are inevitable bear testimony of a long-standing bond. For instance, Vikas Sonkar, a gym trainer, and Parvez Alam, an employee of a private company.