A seemingly startled policeman's attempt to revive an inebriated two-wheeler rider, eyewitnesses claimed, was mistaken as an attempt on his life before snowballing into a full-scale riot that claimed one life and subjected at least 40 others to injuries.
Kamruddin Khan had just fallen from his scooty - after colliding with a constable's baton while trying to speed away from a picket near the Khoda Chowk - when another policeman pumped his chest repeatedly and slapped him lightly in an apparent bid to shake him out of shock.
"Though the policeman was clearly trying to resuscitate him, the others mistook it as more assault from the police to punish his attempt at escaping," said Hasan Khan, 42, an eyewitness and a local resident."Almost immediately, street-side vendors, pavement dwellers and some people who were drinking outside the adjacent bylane went berserk."
Residents claimed that though a crowd of between 400 and 500 people had descended on the scene - only 25 to 30 of them were involved in the violence.
"I was in my shop when the riot broke out and rushed to safety on the terrace to avoid being caught in the melee. Of course there were people from the area who were standing-by and watching but not even a single one of them was involved," claimed Vikas Kumar (name changed on request).
Since the Sunday evening's violence was still fresh in the minds of local residents, for the first few hours on Monday morning roads were deserted and people preferred to stay back in their homes, even though there was heavy deployment of policemen in the entire area. The wary shopkeepers kept the shutters of their down.
"This petrol pump has existed for more than 54 years," said Renu Sachdeva, the owner of the petrol pump which was targeted by the mob. "Last night, I saw it burn to the ground before my eyes. I kept begging the police to do something, only to be told that I was free to enter it and bake to death."
It was only after 11 am that things started getting normal and people came out of their houses.
While majority of the shops were closed till late in the evening, some small shops opened in the afternoon.
"Argument between police and local residents is a routine thing in our area, but the way a trivial issue took an ugly turn was beyond our imagination," said Sadanand Sharma, a local shopkeeper.
Similarly, Sarvesh Kumar, who runs a grocery shop, said, "Residents of Khoda village have made our life hell. Till the situation returns to normal, I will not open my shop."
As many as five private schools in the area were closed while other schools registered low attendance, since the mob had vandalised the window panes and glasses of Kerala Education Society Secondary School.