“We were gheraoed from all sides. When the rioters came in, we asked for police help but they said that they did not have any instructions to intervene. For four hours, the stone pelting continued. Some of the children got hurt, yet the police was a silent spectator”, Testimony of a woman in Trilokpuri
In the last week of October, Delhi witnessed another well-orchestrated campaign of hate and communal rumor mongering, leading to large-scale violence. Vested interests, led by former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya, used the situation to spread all sorts of wild rumours, to foment tensions and violence. And in the midst of this communal riot mongering, the Delhi Police refused to intervene, as witnesses’ testimonies clearly show.
It all started on 23rd October in Block No. 20 of Trilokpuri, when a temporary ‘Mata ki Chowki’ was erected. An altercation ensued over playing a high volume loudspeaker on the Diwali evening while the prayers were being offered at a nearby mosque. The altercation soon took an ugly turn, and stone-pelting started. However, on the night of 23rd October itself, the altercation had been resolved. It is in this situation that former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya intervened, to fuel the religious sentiments of the majority community. Sunil Vaidya organizes a closed door meeting in his office, in which he reportedly calls upon his cadres to construct a temple at the place of ‘Mata ki Chowki’. Soon after, in the late evening of 24 October, an unruly crowd of around 3000 people barged into Block 20 and started pelting stones firing randomly. According to locals, these people were outsiders who had been brought to Trilokpuri. Soon the situation went out of control and the Police smd the Rapid Action Force (RAF) was deployed. Two boys got wounded in the firing, and several youngsters got hurt with bricks and stones. They were taken to the hospital by the Police. The tension spread from Block 20 to other blocks in Trilokpuri. The same night, more than 20 youths were picked by the police without following any legal proceedings. On 25th October, the riots spread to different blocks of Trilokpuri; Blocks 15-20-27 are the most affected. The tension spread from Block 20 to 27-28, 15-9, 6-8, Kalyanpuri Block 13; and Indira and Sanjay camps. Police came to Block 27 at night. According to residents, they broke several vehicles which might have been specifically marked as ownned by Muslims. Then the police entered the Sanjay Camp, and here they broke open all locked doors claiming that men had been hidden inside. Various teams visiting the Sanjay camp in the succeeding days (on 26/27th October) have noted the broken doors in this area. They have also met several women with injury marks on their bodies and with visible lathi marks. The injured were not going to government hospitals dreading possibilities of false cases being slapped uopn them.cases being framed against them. Moreover, the local MLA from AAP has not also been seen in the area, except to roam around with the police for a while. There were unsubstantiated rumours of Muslims urinating at the Mata ki Chowki, of pork being placed in front of the mosque and meat and bones in front of Mata ki Chowki, of drunken brawls and lecherous men. From the afternoon of 27th October itself, news of the death of one of the two young boys (both of whom are Hindus) from Block 28 who had been shot during police firing on 24th October was being circulated all over Trilokpuri. There were also rumours that a ‘shav yatra’ of this boy would be organized in Trilokpuri, and that this yatra would result in fresh riots and violence. It later turned out that the news of the boy’s death was false. The instigators of this rumour mongering – former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya and local RSS leader Ram Charan Gujarati for instance – continue to roam around freely in and out of the police stations and in the area. In the de-facto BJP office at Sunil Vaidya’s residence in Block 21, groups of around 25-30 young men gather regularly even though Section 144 was supposedly imposed. Currently, several Muslim families in the area have either left the area all together, or have sent women and children for the relatives’ places situated in other parts of Delhi for safety. There are also reports that young men as well as women and children are kept locked in their homes for fear of their safety, and for fear that the police will pick them up and frame them in false cases.
Role of the Police
To begin with, the police remained a mute witness for four whole hours on 24th October, even as the tensions kept escalating. This lack of prompt action only encouraged the rioters. The Police came to action on 25th, after the riots having spread to various parts of Trilokpuri. Even while in Action, their obvious bias could be seen in several instances. They arbitrarily picked up construction workers (mostly poor, and from the minority community) from Block 27. They entered the local mosque wearing shoes, and there are also reports that they desecrated books in the mosque. The police used sexually abusive language against members of both communities. According to several narratives emerging from Trilokpuri, the police beat up women and the elderly. Two youngsters were seriously injured in the police firing on 25th October. Some serious concerns have arisen with regard to the arrests and FIRs filed by the police. It appears that the arrests were entirely arbitrary and selective. For instance, Jameel was arrested and thrown into police custody when he accompanied his mother to visit his brother in jail, flouting all existing legal norms of arresting. Some Hindu men have been arrested, but Muslims constitute an overwhelming majority of those arrested. In some of the FIRs, there is no specific mention of the accused – thus leaving the doors open for subsequent false arrests and charge sheets. Most of the accused have been charged under several provisions of the IPC, including under section 307 (attempt to murder) a non-bailable offense. Moreover, when the accused were produced in the Karkardooma court on 26th October, JNUSU representatives present there found the accused with injuries and limping. according to the accused they were not given food or medical help in jail for two whole days. It was only after interventions made people present there in the court they were provided with food. Moreover, their relatives have not been allowed to meet them. The accused were later sent to Tihar jail, where they are reportedly being beaten up.
Currently, there is a heavy police presence in many parts of Trilokpuri. However, in the name of ensuring ‘peace’ and ‘security’, the police has now de-facto gheraoed block 15 and 27, where majority of the Muslim population of Trilokpuri resides. Just last month, we saw an orchestrated campaign of communal hate mongering in Bawana. Moreover, apart from Trilokpuri, there are reports of increasing communal tensions in other parts of Delhi such as Majnu ka tila and Nand Nagari. Clearly, as the Delhi polls approach, these attempts at communal polarization are only going to increase – attendant with violence and hate-mongering.
CITIZENS’ PROTEST IN FRONT OF THE DELHI POLICE HQ
Concerned by the Serious police inaction, prejudiced behaviour towards minority community a Citzens’ Protest by organised by the students and intellectuals of the city On 1st November. AISA, JNUSU and various other left and democratic organizations participated in this demo. AISA took an important role in organizing the Demo. Despite being called in a short notice, more than hundred students and citizens participated in it. Representatives of organizations and individuals expressed their opinion questioning Delhi Police.
JNUSU President Comrade Ashutosh raised the inadequacy and stereotypical biases with which Police acted in Trilokpuri. AISA national President Comrade Sucheta demanded immediate arrest of Ex BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya. Delhi University Unit Secretry Comrade Aman addressed the meeting.
A delegation consisting of JNUSU office bearers (JNUSU President Ashutosh,Vice President Anant, General Secretary Chintu, Joint Secretary Shahqat) as well JNUSU councilors Rama Naga and Fayaz met representatives of the Delhi Police and submitted a detailed note with the following demands:
1. Strong action against responsible police officers who failed to act in time to stop the violence.
2. Immediate action against well-known instigators like Mr. Sunil Vaidya and Ramcharan Gujarati.
3. The police must come clean on the number of FIRs filed and arrests done till now. Any FIR without proper name and description of the accused must not be pursued by the police in the court.
4. Further arrests without warrant and legal norms must be stopped immediately.
5. Those accused persons who are inside Tihar jail must be provided proper security, medical and legal aids.