What truly transpired during the course of the communal violence in Delhi’s North East district is slowly coming to light. While many including survivors and residents of the worst affected areas have taken to social media with their first-person accounts, journalists covering the violence as well as fact-finding teams have revealed the shocking ugliness of not just the targeted violence, but also its aftermath.
The most serious allegation is that of innocent Muslim men being unfairly targeted and dragged away by the police on charges of rioting. The most shocking case was that of 45-year-old Usman Saifi who had spent night and day guarding a local temple in Gali number 18 of Mustafabad’s Nehru Vihar during the riots. But late on Sunday night police picked him up and took him to Dyalpur police station. Saifi has been accused of taking part in the violence, but according to his family and neighbours, it was he who diligently guarded the Hindu shrine fearing worse repercussions should any harm come to it.
His wife Salma told The Print, “He knew that if anything happens to the temple, it will be the Muslims of the area who will be blamed.” But what was even more shocking was the manner in which the police behaved when they picked him up. “The police suddenly came in their car, put a pistol on Saifi’s head and took him away. He didn’t even get a chance to defend himself,” an eyewitness told The Print. Over 100 people have been allegedly arrested or detained from the Mustafabad area.
A few days ago, a fact-finding report by Lawyers Against Atrocities made similar allegations of police targeting Muslim men and detaining them on baseless charges in the Khureji Khas area. The report had said, “While conducting raids in the locality, police are reported to have discharged their weapons twice at the entrance of the Jama Masjid Road. That evening, when lawyers arrived at Jagatpuri Police Station to enquire about the arrested, the police were verbally and physically abusive towards them. More arrests are reported to have occurred on the night of 26th January 2020 and then over the next two days, with police raiding homes of numerous residents and arbitrarily picking up people, including several minors, from the streets.”
It is noteworthy that BJP’s sitting MLA Jagdish Pradhan lost to AAP’s Haji Yunus by a margin of over 20,000 votes from Mustafabad in the Delhi elections held earlier this year. Pradhan was leading with over 27,000 votes till the 20th round of counting, but in six subsequent rounds the tide turned dramatically. It is possible that voter resentment was born out of their opposition of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).