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.
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.
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.