The Delhi police were missing, Hindus and Muslims agree

As the embers still burn, fear and anger are palpable in north-east Delhi

Updated - November 28, 2021 11:22 am IST

Published - February 28, 2020 01:51 am IST - NEW DELHI

Remains of a school in Shiv Vihar Tiraha.

Remains of a school in Shiv Vihar Tiraha.

Some shops are still slowly smoking , in others people could be seen examining what is salvageable. Charred vehicles litter the road at the crossing of Mustafabad-Shiv Vihar in north-east Delhi. Even once mighty steel almirahs dot the patchy road.

At major crossings in Jaffrabad, Ganga Vihar, Shiv Vihar and Gokulpuri, police pickets can be seen. In Gokulpuri, most shops are open while in Mustafabad where many shops and a school were gutted, it’s not business as usual.

Delhi police and Rapid Action Force personnel are deployed in many areas, with local residents making arrangements to feed them. People with metal buckets and paper plates were going around, feeding policemen.


All the glass panes of Rajdhani Public Sr. Sec. School at Shiv Vihar Tiraha are broken. One room is full of notebooks and paper. In what looks like a reception area, only the metal bits remain of what was once furniture.

“There was firing by Muslims from rooftops,” a shopkeeper identified as a Hindu tells me, looking out from his burnt shop. “Monday was so scary,” said a woman with a bindi on her forehead.

Cooped up indoors

After navigating a path through a gali littered with bricks, this reporter walked ahead of the school and towards an inner lane. No residents could be seen.


Two women, identified as Muslims, fear writ large on their faces, ask me if they could be helped to their houses to get clothes for their children as they had fled with nothing. “We have small children and they have no clothes. Please help us.” They are guided to the RAF men at the head of the lane and are allowed to proceed.

Walking back into the lane, this reporter could hear voices from inside the steel shuttering of a house. A woman poked her head out of a small window and said, “We have not got out of our houses since Monday. We are too scared to go out.”

Soon, some men, identified as Muslims, emerge from an inner lane. Fear and anger is palpable. “We have had to flee our houses. Our mosques in Shiv Vihar were desecrated. The nephew of a local BJP leader was seen opening fire. We are not being allowed out by the police even to get milk for our children.”

“Hindus are freely moving around. But the police don’t allow us to move out,” they say in chorus. “Come and see ... a Hindu temple in the inner lane is safe.”

Frantic calls in vain

On one thing, both Hindus and Muslims were united. They kept dialling the police, but no one came on Monday. This was a persistent complaint by people in both Mustafabad and Shiv Vihar.


Ravikant Upadhyay, who works at a weighbridge outside Mustafabad, said their installation had been totally destroyed. “We have suffered a loss of at least ₹10 lakh. Our owner is a Muslim, but I have never had a problem working for him.” The shop was still smouldering after three days.

Moving to Shiv Vihar, one could see that a mosque had been burnt from the inside. It was pitch dark and mangled ceiling fans told the story of fire in the mosque. Several Hindu residents confirmed that all the Muslims living in the area had fled their houses after the violence.

Even one Hindu, Ram Kumar Singh, was seen taking his belongings away to stay at an alternative place. He confirmed that all the buildings burnt belonged to Muslims, but some had Hindu tenants. “When madness grips people, you can see the results,” Mr. Singh stated.

Waiting to exhale

As our black and yellow WagonR taxi navigated the patchy roads, this reporter spotted a gathering of several persons. On investigation, it was found that residents of Pradhanwali gali , Johripur, were busy buying potatoes. Since there was a rush, people had been made to queue up. Javed Khan, a taxi driver, and Manoj Kumar, a transporter, stood among a group of people, just ahead of the queue. “We have had no violence here. You can see people here, Hindus and Muslims, are living in harmony.”


But how did the area escape the violence given its proximity to the area where the riots have taken place? “We have never allowed entry to any outsiders. This was not a Hindu-Muslim riot. People had been brought from outside to foment trouble.”

Javed, Manoj and others said they hadn’t slept since Sunday night. Neither had anyone gone to work , to make sure that everyone was safe. The same was the case in the other areas. No one has been sleeping at night for fear of being attacked.

Thursday night, too, will be a long one for the residents of Jaffrabad, Ganga Vihar, Shiv Vihar and Gokulpuri.

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