When Mohammad Nihal, 33, woke up on Sunday, he heard loud cries from his neighbourhood in Haryana’s Panipat district. Around 25-30 men, with their faces covered and holding swords and knives, had entered Krishna Garden, a market housing people from both Hindu and Muslim communities, and threatened Muslims and vandalised their shops.
A meat shop owner, Nihal had closed his shop after incidents of violence in Gurugram and Nuh made the headlines. “It’s been shut for a week. I thought about my family’s safety. Even though the two places are far away, how long will it take for them to threaten and kill Muslims anywhere?” he said.
According to Mayank Mishra, ASP Panipat, armed men vandalised properties at three locations under the Chandni Bagh police station limits on Sunday and threatened the owners to vacate them. So far, the police have rounded up 15 people and their role is being ascertained, he said. “We are trying to understand their modus operandi and find out who is behind this mob and providing them with arms. Many more will be rounded up based on CCTV footage and the videos shot by residents,” he said.
Mr. Mishra said the mob moved around the area and vandalised properties at Krishna Garden, Ujha Gate, and Indo Farm Road and threatened Muslim traders to leave the area. A few traders suffered minor injuries. The Haryana police have registered three FIRs at the Chandni Bagh police station under Sections 148, 149, 324, 427, and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.
Nihal, who had stepped outside his house to ensure his neighbours’ safety, said amid the commotion, the number plate of the one of the bikes used by the attackers fell off. He then picked it up and informed the police about it.
Abdul Wahid, 35, a maulvi, said the attack took place when he was teaching children at a mosque at Sector 25. “The children were supposed to leave around noon. I was scared to let them go. They could’ve been attacked too. We hid inside the mosque. When the men left the spot, I let the children go,” he said.
Two hundred metres away from the mosque, Wahid’s wife, Khalida, 28, sat at her cloth shop, along with their children, aged two and three. Khalida told The Hindu that the men checked the name of her shop before entering it. They vandalised the property and took away all the money, she said.
“The shop was owned by a Hindu resident. We had only taken it on rent. I hid my children so that they couldn’t harm them,” Khaleeda said.
Food on the streets
Many meat shops were vandalised and food was thrown into the streets. Mohammad Shanu, 25, recollected the ordeal: “The mob didn’t spare even women. They entered our shops and took away cash. The biryani and chicken curry kept for sale were thrown on the road. They walked away after breaking the table, chairs and glass doors, I’ve incurred a loss of ₹50,000. We are small people who earn on a daily basis. Where do we go?”
They also forced Muslim men to chant religious slogans like ‘Jai Sri Ram.’ When Mohammad Ahtasham was sitting at his shop and talking to his friends about his business, the group entered and forced Ahtasham to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram.’
“They held me by my collar, I told them to leave me as I have a family. I have nothing to upset them. They pushed me towards the wall. They took away ₹14,000 from the shop and destroyed all the food.” He claimed that he had incurred a loss of ₹70,000.
The mob also took away the butcher’s knives, asking them not to run their business in the area and threatened to come back.
Khaleeda told The Hindu that the men first saw the name of her shop and then entered, only to vandalise the entire property and leave them with no money.
“The shop was owned by a Hindu resident, it was their property, not ours, we only had it on rent, I hid my children under my duppatta so they don’t do anything to them,” a terrified Khaleeda said.
Most shops that were vandalised, will now take some time to get back to business, amidst fear of hate and attack.
Many meat shops were vandalised and the food was thrown on the streets of the area.
Mohammad Shanu, 25 was one of them.
“The mob didn’t spare women or men, they entered our shops and took away all our cash, we kept food like biryani and chiken curry in big degis, they threw it on the road and walked away, they broke table, chairs, glass doors, I’ve incurred a loss of Rs 50,000, we’re small people who earn on a daily basis, where do we go?” Mr Shanu said.
The mob even forced Muslim men to chant religious slogans like ‘Jai Sri Ram.’
When Mohammad Ahtasham was sitting at his shop and talking to his friends about his business, the group of men entered and forced Ahtasham to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram.’
“They held me by my collar, I told them, please leave me because I have a family to cater to, I have nothing to upset them, they pushed me towards the wall, I was helpless, they found the cash drawer and took away Rs 14,000, they destroyed all the food and me Muslims shouldn’t do business in the country, they should go back, but where do I go to? I was born here? Ahtasham asks, worriedly, as he has also in curred a loss of Rs 70,000 after his entire shop, including the shop’s board was vandalised.
The mob also took away the butcher’s knives, asking them to not conduct their business in the area anymore and threatening to come back.