After a citizens meeting yesterday in the Sri Ram Centre near Delhi’s Mandi House regarding the worrisome communal clashes in Trilokpuri, I went to the area long with 9-10 other activists like Harsh Mander, Kavita Krishnan, Nayan Jyoti and Kiran Shaheen. Apart from the collective open appeal to the LG and the Delhi Police commissioner that was released yesterday, a visit to the Trilokpuri to meet the police and local residents was decided in yesterday’s meeting.
The police officials assured the local activists of action and heavy police presence was visible in the entire area. Our friends from the locality told us that the situation is actually under control since Saturday night, although a perceptible tension was still in the air. The activists are discussing about a peace march and sustained dialogue with the communities once the tension lowers. Here are my own quick observations, strictly personal as the citizens’ group might come up with its own collective statements and fact finding reports later –
– It’s a low income area, people do small jobs and run shops etc. Youths are unemployed and there are all kinds of prejudices prevailing – Hindus against muslims, Muslims against Hindus, Muslims against Dalits and vice-versa. Small scuffles are not so uncommon and people have difficult relationship with the police.
– The police didn’t act initially when two-sided stone pelting happened but when it sprung into action, it crushed the one side – male police beating up muslim women, random youth picked up and even the sarkari Aman Committee having a distinct Hindu shade. Riots happen because Muslims are violent, uneducated and too religious. A ‘Hindu peace’, strongly backed by the police, prevails in the area.
– Local residents confirmed that the cycle of violence escalated after the local BJP leader and former MLA Sunil Kumar vaidya’s provocative speech where he called for a temple to be built at the spot of mata ki chowki visited. Most residents – both Hindus and Muslims – said outsiders were behind the violence.
– Large-scale riots might actually be counter-productive for the BJP in a place like Delhi, so I guess it will just unleash a controlled but simmering tension in areas like this with reverberations in other lower middle class zones. South Delhi can continue to enjoy shopping malls peacefully. They will vote the BJP for development.
Block 15: While we were told at the Police Station that there’s only prohibitory order under 144, here they told us its curfew and didn’t allow us to meet people.
Trilokpuri Block 22: A Hindu resident telling us there are no bigger goons than police here. It’s a generally low income area and scuffles between youths is not uncommon. Two such groups fought and it was given communal color. He said the police is not allowing them to open their shops and earn. The riots were instigated by outsiders.
We spoke to the Aman Committee appointed by the police, which are mostly Hindus. Local people, both Hindus n Muslims say these are elements which act as police informers even in normal situations and fill the cops against people who are not in their good books. One of the Aman Committee members warned a senior fellow activist against going near the mosque as ‘they are dangerous’.
All kinds of rumours are abound in the area and even the people living right near the mata ki chowki where the scuffle started have multiple versions. Typical signs of communal tensions fomented on rumours.