In a throwback to the pre-liberalisation era, violence broke out in the Jangpura area of south Delhi after a Delhi Development Authority team went there to demolish a mosque built on government land, on the directions of the Delhi High Court.
Even though the Allahabad High Court’s September 2010 ruling had failed to dent
the city’s secular fabric, Wednesday’s demolition saw flared tempers and an irate mob protesting the action.
While the road from Neela Gumbad to Ashram was blocked, traffic towards south Delhi remained disrupted throughout the day. Hour-long jams followed and traffic was diverted towards Mathura Road and Lala Lajpat Rai Marg.
Six people, including four policemen, were injured in the violence that broke out after the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) team carried out the demolition. Police lobbed teargas shells to disperse a mob of over 1,000 people, who had gathered at the spot.
The demolition was carried out at a mosque in Jangpura’s B-block around 8am, amidst heavy police presence.
Police lobbed teargas shells and used batons to disperse protesters who tried to enter the site of the demolished structure and offer prayers.
“A large number of people gathered in front of the Hazrat Nizamuddin police station and marched towards the demolition spot. When they were prevented from entering the area, they broke the barricades. We had to hurl teargas shells and use some force,” said OP Mishra, DCP (southeast).
“The whole area is heavily guarded and there is a lot of inconvenience because of the traffic restrictions. We are also scared as we fear more violence and are avoiding going out,” said Ramesh Aggarwal, a resident of C-Block, Jangpura.
Meanwhile, several protesters marched towards the police station where Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, and Lok Janshakti Party MLA Shoaib Iqbal addressed them.
“A slum and this structure had come up on DDA land. We had cleared the slums earlier but did not touch the structure as we needed a clearance from the committee looking into demolition of such structures,” said Neemo Dhar, spokesperson, DDA. However, Bukhari claimed that the religious structure was built on Wakf Board land and not on DDA land.