Delhi Violence: Inmates of Mustafabad Camp Narrate Savagery of Mobs

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Mourning relatives of Mohammad Mudassir, 31, who was killed as right-wing mobs attacked Muslims and targeted their properties in Delhi. — AP

GROUND REPORT

Muslim families fled from their homes in adjoining localities of Mustafabad following the massive violence unleashed by right-wing mobs last week

Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — Old Mustafabad is densely populated and a predominantly Muslim area in north-east Delhi. It provided the main shelter to Muslim families who fled from their homes in adjoining localities following the massive violence unleashed by right-wing mobs last week. A pall of gloom, fear and despondence has hung over the rescue and relief camp for days.

While some families live with their relatives, many have taken shelter in the rehabilitation camp set up in the Eidgah by locals with some help from the government. They live in multiple tents.

Among them is the family of 16-year-old Mohd Asif who hails from Uttar Pradesh. He lived with his family in Shiv Vihar, where he worked as a tailor. A week ago, on the Monday evening, a mob of hundreds armed with rods, acid bottles and petrol arrived outside his house and started shouting slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and demanded that the family come out.

A firefighter walks past damaged shops at a tyre market mostly owned by Muslims after they were set on fire by a mob in a riot affected area of Delhi. — Reuters

Asif, his mother, aunt and his two sisters climbed on the rooftop and jumped across to the roof of the next building and saved themselves. During this bid, Asif’s aunt had her right foot injured. Asif saw the mob throwing gas cylinders into the house. The cylinders blasted and set the house ablaze. Most of the men in the gang were helmeted. Asif says he identified a few of the youths in the mob.

“THEY WERE LOCALS”

“They were locals and I knew them personally. I never thought they will burn my home,” Asif said, with a tinge of sadness on his face. The family spent the entire night on the roof-top of a building while the mobs went on the rampage. Police personnel came in the next day and evacuated them from Shiv Vihar. They were shifted to a relative’s home in Mustabad.

Delhi, the national capital, saw the worst communal violence in decades this past week, which has been described as a pogrom by many.

The violence was triggered by an exhortation by Kapil Mishra, a local leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, who indulged in hate speech and demanded that the police clear the area of the anti-CAA sit-in by women protesters at Jafarabad. This, even though the protest was organised in a peaceful and democratic manner.

While visiting US president Donald Trump was addressing the media at a hotel in the capital, Hindutva mobs were on rampage.

Nearly 50 people, a majority of them Muslims, have been killed in the targeted attacks. The mobs did not spare even children and the aged. In many cases, the mobs killed Muslims by stabbing them with sharp objects. Some bodies have been recovered in severed conditions. The mobs rampaged through lanes and indulged in acts of arson, lynching, loot and sexual assaults. Many abandoned homes of Muslims stand half-burnt with walls covered in soot.

A man speaks on his mobile phone as he walks past a burnt-out mosque and shops in Ashok Nagar following right-wing mobs unleashed terror and attacked Muslims in north east Delhi for their opposition to CAA. — AFP

As per accounts provided by the victims, the attacks on Muslim homes were surgical in pattern. If an entire block had only Muslim families residing, the mobs would set the entire building afire. If a Muslim’s flat was sandwiched between two flats belonging to Hindus, then the mob would not set it afire, for fear the adjoining flats too would be affected, They would just loot the belongings in the targeted flat.

Mohd Nanay, 45, says his rented home was not set on fire because it was situated in the midst of Hindu homes. “If they had set my home ablaze, it would have lit up their homes too.” He claims that the mob stole gold ornaments and cash from his home which he had saved for marriage of his daughter.

The mobs were not able to break into the lanes of Old Mustafabad. The bravery of the youths in the locality ensured security for the area. During the three days of carnage, the locals set up barricades made of tin sheets and iron gates close to the bridge to prevent the mob from advancing. “If they were successful in entering Old Mustabad, then there would have been killings in thousands,” said Mohd Ikram, a local who does automobile business and works now as a volunteer distributing relief material to the affected.

Volunteers preparing relief packets in a store room near Mustafabad for the riot-affected people as relief material poured in from different parts of the city.

For the last few days, the boys keep a vigil in the lanes at night and conduct relief work during the day.

The garage of Mohammad Faisal’s home is a storehouse for relief material that pours in from different areas like Jamia Nagar and Hauzkhas in Delhi. From here, the volunteers, who are local men, repack the material into small bags. The volunteers have done a survey and prepared a list of families whose homes have been robbed or set afire. These days, they have been conducting a distribution exercise. They provide the families with bags carrying dry ration like rice, flour, lentils and spices and also cooking oil.

The survivors of the violence are feeling traumatised and say that their primary concern right now was to protect their lives. “People may not be able to go back to the localities where they lived,” says Faizan Ahmad, a local boy who studies paramedics. His family owns a building in Bareshpuri, a locality ravaged by violence. They had rented the building out to a Muslim family but now the family has fled from the flat. Faizan says that they are planning to sell that building.

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