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Forty-five days after Durga temple was desecrated by Muslims in Chandni Chowk, normalcy yet to return: Report

It’s clear that tempers in both the Hindu and the Muslim communities are high and it would take a lot to restore normalcy.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

More than a month and a half after the horrific incident of desecrating a Durga temple in Lal Kuan market in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, the Hindu community continue to live in terror as normalcy is yet to return to Muslim-dominated locality, reports Swarajya.

According to an investigation report by Swarajya journalist Swati Goel Sharma and Arihant Pawariya, the locality of Lal Kuan market in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area is slowly limping back to its normalcy amidst the huge presence of security forces, which were deployed following the hate crime committed by a Muslim mob. Reports suggested that there were at least 700 paramilitary forces in the area deployed after the incident.

On June 30, a group of nine-ten Muslim men had stormed in, pelted stones and bricks, kicked at the doors, attacked the parked vehicles while shouting something at the residents.

Nearly 50 Hindu families reside near Durga mandir lane amidst Muslim-populated colonies such as Farash Khana, Chabuk Sawaar Gali, Katra Sheikh Chand, Ballimaran and Hamdard Safakhana. With a narrow entrance, the congested lane opens to a Durga temple while the other end of the lane is closed. Durga Temple is not a typical temple but a row of idols placed inside glass panels on the sidewall of the lane.

Durga Mandir Lane in Lal Kuan

On June 30, at the midnight violence took place which jolted the families out of sleep. Reportedly, one of the residents recalled, “We had all gone to bed early as it was a Sunday and we had to get up on time the next day. I heard a commotion and looked down my window. A mob of youngsters was pelting stones and bricks at our homes. They hit scooters and bikes parked in the street and tried to break shutters of shops.”

“When they spotted me, they hurled the choicest of abuses my way. I woke up families around saying we are under attack,” he said.

Speaking to Swarajya, the Hindu residents in the locality said that they did not have any idea why they were being assaulted. However, they knew the attackers belonged to the Muslim community.

“Initially I thought they were venting out their anger as India had lost to England and it hurt Pakistan’s chances of getting into the World Cup semi-final. We were in fact anticipating some commotion after the loss,” said another resident on the condition of anonymity.

He added that he did not know the real reason then. “Nonetheless, some of our men gathered in the street and rushed to close the gate,” he said. He said some 10-15 men standing on the other side of the gate stopped the residents from closing it but they eventually managed.

Another resident said the Muslim mob had come to the spot with full planning. “They had rods, sticks, stones and what not. They were shouting slogans of Allahu Akbar and abusing us, daring us to come out,” he said. The youth recalled that youth,”saare Hinduon baahar aao, hum tumko batayenge kaata kaise jaata hai. Kaatna humse seekho (All you Hindus, come out, we will teach you how to cut)”.

He also added that some of the youths shouted political slogans, saying “Modi murdabad, hamara Imran Hussain zindabad. Kejriwal zindabad.”

The residents soon became aware that the Durga temple has been desecrated. They saw the broken panels and idols and the burnt curtains. The next day, they saw mobile-shot videos of the mob chanting “Allahu Akbar” and “Naara-e-Takbeer” while proceeding to vandalise the 100-year-old temple.

Vandalised idols at the temple

Reportedly, the residents said the police arrived after an hour late despite several phone calls, and despite the Hauz Qazi police station is just a few hundred metres away. Instead of assuring them protection, the police officials attempted to erase evidence of the violence that was unleashed on the Hindus. “All that the cops did was to change the burnt curtains and clear the street of the debris to cover up the matter,” a resident said. “But it’s all been captured in the CCTV camera,” he said.

“What would have happened? There is no exit on the other side of the lane. It’s a dead end. We only have this one gate. It could’ve been a massacre,” another terrified woman.

The dispute over parking was a spark for the incident: 

According to the residents, a parking brawl between two locals – one Sanjeev Gupta and Aas Mohammad – around three hours before the incident, which had nothing to do with religion acted as a spark for the incident which led to the desecration of Durga temple.

Gupta, who stays at a house in first-floor right opposite the Durga temple lane said that around 9 pm on 30 June, he was standing at the window when he saw a man trying to park his scooter below his house. “I asked him not to park the vehicle there as cows pass by that route. I feared that if a cow knocked down his scooter, he would blame me,” said Gupta, recalling that Aas Mohammad man was “needlessly abusive”.

“He asked me if cows take the stairs and enter my house too. This made me angry and I hurled abuses at him in return. He then challenged me to come downstairs and I did. We then had a scuffle,” he said.

Gupta added that Mohammad left the spot threatening to teach him a lesson. “I did not take it seriously and came home. Within no time, over 50 men gathered outside my house. Some of them tried to enter inside but I managed to shut the door at them,” said Gupta.

As the situation got tense, the police arrived after a call was made by Gupta’s family member. The cops took both Gupta and Mohammad to a local hospital and then to Hauz Qazi police station, he said.

According to Gupta’s mother, the crowd continued to bang at the door. “We women and children were terrified. But there was not a single cop deployed for our safety despite a mob outside,” she complained. She added that the family is still scared for their safety and do not want any scuffle. “We only want peace. Please do not write anything that endangers our lives,” she said to Swarajya.

Gupta also said that he was horrified to see a crowd of hundreds of Muslim men outside the police station. “I did not know what they were sloganeering, whether they wanted me handed over to them or Mohammad to be let free, but I was shocked,” he said.

Gupta spent the night at the police station. The police later told the media that the Muslim mob had gathered after reading fake and provocative messages on WhatsApp that a Muslim man had been lynched by Hindus. Meanwhile, the Gupta family kept the windows and gate closed, but she said she heard a disturbance around midnight.

Keshav Saxena- the Missing Son

Keshav Saxena, the minor Hindu boy was missing after the mob left the Durga temple lane. Shockingly, the police did not take the family’s complaint on the night of 30 June and made it wait till late evening even on the next day, the locals said.

Mona Saxena, the mother of the missing boy named Keshav, reportedly showed Swarajya a copy of the FIR that was registered around 9 pm on 1 July. In Opindia ground report, we had also reported that his parents were extremely distressed over his plight. His father had even threatened to commit suicide if he didn’t return safely. The mainstream media tried its best to hush up the entire matter and totally ignored the fact that a boy was missing.

The mother said that some unknown Muslim men had taken away her son from home around 11:30 pm. The men entered the colony vandalising the temple and shouting “Allahu Akbar”, and began thrashing the residents. She said that her son was sleeping inside the house and he was taken away by some Muslim men. The statement further said that she was very worried about her son and the police should act against this “terrorism”.

The police booked the alleged kidnappers under IPC sections 363 (kidnapping), 452 (house-trespass) and 34.

“My son had intervened when Gupta and that Muslim man were fighting. The Muslim man had even slapped him. My son had come home, changed his clothes and gone off to sleep,” Mona told Swarajya.

The alleged kidnap of the minor boy, who had quit school to financially support the family, had shocked the colony and pushed them into worse fear. The boy had returned after three days, and he had said that he was rescued by an elder Muslim person.

The Hindu Migration

The residents of Durga temple lane fear that the local Muslims want even the 50-odd Hindu families living among a thousand Muslim families in Lal Kuan to leave so they can “take over” the entire area. According to the Hindus, the locality had a large number of Hindu families in the 1980s but constant curfews and violence triggered their migration. The latest clash could further drive them away, they added.

“If they shout Allahu Akbar and break our temples, or abuse our community for no reason, then naturally Hindus will migrate out. There are many families that are seriously considering the option now,” one resident said.

Another woman said there was no recent history of any clashes between the two communities in the area. “We exchange sweets at festivals. Some of their men come to our colony to burst crackers on Diwali. I don’t know what’s got into them,” she said.

Nevertheless, the desecration incident of June 30 may be a tipping point in their decision to migrate from the Lal Kuan. The Hindu families complain that they do not enjoy religious freedom at par with the Muslim majority which is degrading to them as a community.

“We haven’t organised a Jagran in many years. Police don’t give us permission. We can’t get even half of the road for our religious functions while Muslims occupy the entire streets on their festivals. We have to be careful with our crackers on Diwali and watercolours on Holi while they roam with swords on Muharram without any fear,” a resident said. “A few years ago, our youth tried to organise a Sandhyaon the road. Police made us wrap up by 10 pm,” he complained.

Hauz Qazi limping to Normalcy

The constant efforts by some sections of the ‘liberal-secular’ media and opinion-makers to downplay the incident and claim that there was no hate crime involved is busted by this Swarajya ground report.

On Tuesday, a team of Swarajya had visited Lal Kuan to ascertain the actual status of the locality. The report said Lal Kuan resembled a militarized zone due to heavy security. Reportedly, more than 1,000 Delhi Police and paramilitary personnel armed with anti-riot gear have been deployed. The police have put barricades on the main road separating Muslim and Hindu crowds numbering in hundreds, chanting “Allahu Akbar” and “Jai Shri Ram” at each other in a game of competitive sloganeering. The market was shut.

Speaking to several members, Swarajya reported that the Muslim crowd surprisingly expressed ignorance of the temple desecration. Shakeel Ahmed, a local, said that all he knew was that two men fought over parking and some people gathered outside the police station. He said he had not heard of the temple vandalism.

Several men dismissed the vandalism and put the blame on Hindus themselves. Few others claimed that it could be the design of the “outsiders”. “Who knows who vandalised the temple. It could be Hindus doing it themselves to give us a bad name,” said one resident. Another said that no real Muslim would desecrate the place of worship of another religion and thus it seemed like a handiwork of “BJP-RSS”.

A local resident named Rakesh Khanna (name changed) whose family migrated here from Lahore after partition, said he wasn’t surprised at all. “Partition kiya inhone, blame karte hain Hinduon ko. Kashmir se Panditon ko nikala inhone par kehte hain ki khud bhaag gaye. Abhi mandir toda aur bol rahe hain Hinduon ne toda (They did the partition but blamed it on Hindus. They threw pandits out of Kashmir but say they migrated on their own. Now they vadalise a temple and again blame Hindus for it),” he said to Swarajya.

He added that normalcy is yet to return in the locality and there is an attempt to impose normalcy by force, but no such thing on ground existed. “If the situation was normal, would there be hundreds of security personnel here?” he said.

Khanna, on the other hand, asked, “Ekta hoti to mandir todte? (If there was unity, would they break our temple?” He said that Lal Kuan has about 5 per cent Hindus as against 95 per cent Muslims and that if Hindus from elsewhere in Chandni Chowk had come to stand up with the community, they could not be labelled as “outsiders”.

It’s clear that tempers in both the Hindu and the Muslim communities are high and it would take a lot to restore normalcy.

Men from both sides said that the talk of Hindu-Muslim unity in the area was a farce. One Mohammad Zahid said that “Muslims” were being lynched everywhere in the country and the community won’t take it lying down.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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