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Delhi violence: Hindu teen recounts how Muslim neighbours stood guard for him

Harsh Singh at his residence in north-east Delhi’s Khajoori Khas on Thursday.

Harsh Singh at his residence in north-east Delhi’s Khajoori Khas on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Muslim woman says neighbours assured her nobody will hurt her family

Seventeen-year-old Harsh Singh was home alone on Monday afternoon when clashes broke out a few metres away from his residence in north-east Delhi’s Khajoori Khas. His “Wahab bhai” and another neighbour pushed him inside the house to make sure he was safe.

Hearing the commotion on the street outside on Monday, Harsh, a Class X student, ran out of the house. Stickers reading “Om Namah Shivay” and “Ram Ram” had been pasted on their door. “I was standing outside when I found people pelting stones at each other. Bhabhi and Wahab bhai came and asked me to go inside and also said that I should inform them in case I face a problem,” he said, referring to his neighbours, who belong to the Muslim community. The woman was not found at her residence when The Hindu visited it.

Harsh’s father Satpal Singh is a driver with the Delhi Transport Corporation and was at work when the clashes had broken out. His mother Sheela Devi had left for her mother’s house on Sunday evening to attend a wedding. “My father got to know about the situation and called mamu [Wahab] and asked to take care of me. He said he would return at the earliest,” the teenager said.

 

The neighbours also asked Harsh if he was hungry as his mother was away, he told The Hindu. “I am not scared at all. I have lived here since birth. They [neighbours] treat me like their own child,” he said.

The boy said he managed to look at the two sides clashing on Monday and “spotted friends on both the sides”. “I saw my Muslim friends on one side and Hindu friends on the other. One of my Hindu friends saw me and asked me if I was trapped. I said, ‘Bhai, yeh mera ghar hai [Brother, this is my house]’,” he said.

Harsh was alone at home on Thursday as well and remained safe.

The second Hindu household in Harsh’s neighbourhood was of 25-year-old Rahul Kumar. He became a father a few days ago. On Monday, he said, the neighbours stood guard and made sure the family was safe.

 

“On Tuesday morning, my neighbour Iqrar bhai came and told us, ‘Hum bachpan se sath hain, darne ki koi zaroorat nahi hai. Koi dikkat ho toh humain batana [We have been together since childhood. You don’t need to be scared. Let us know if there is any trouble]’,” said Mr. Kumar. Before taking their newborn son to the hospital on Tuesday, Mr. Kumar’s wife Reshma asked a grocery shop owner in the area to take care of their house.

Right across the road, in a Hindu-dominated area in Khajoori Khas, lives Anjum (48). She said her three sons have not gone to work for the last three days and mostly stayed inside the house.

Ms. Anjum’s is the only Muslim family in the locality and “felt safe” after a neighbour, Balvinder Singh, told them not to worry on Monday.

“He came and told us not to be scared and that no one from our locality will hurt us. But we are not sure how people here will react if outsiders come and attack us,” she said.

 

While both the communities feel safe in their own areas irrespective of the dominance that prevails, the two sides are not crossing over due to which people residing in the Muslim-dominated area are facing a water issue.

Suraj Kumar, a resident of the Muslim-dominated area, said that people in the area had to go fetch water from the other side as their area was “underdeveloped”. “Since Monday, we have not been able to go there. First, they ask our names and if we establish we are Hindus, they ask us to go back and arrange water,” he alleged. Both his children go to schools located on the opposite side and his concern is if the family will be able to cross the road without facing any issue.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 11:49:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/hindu-teen-recounts-how-muslim-neighbours-stood-guard-for-him/article30937191.ece

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