“In Trilokpuri, when two friends ride a bike together, it doesn’t matter if one is Hindu and other is Muslim. But when a fight happens between two individuals, their religion suddenly becomes very important,” said a 60-year-old man during a meeting organised in block 32 on Monday evening.
He received applause from more than a hundred locals, who had gathered for the meeting organised by police ahead of Dussehra on Tuesday, Muharram on Wednesday and Valmiki Jayanti on Sunday.
Life is back to normal in Trilokpuri two days after a clash was reported at Madina Masjid Chowk located between blocks 29 and 32. A group of youths clashed on Tuesday and police had to rush in reinforcements to ensure that violence did not escalate. Six CCTV cameras and two lamp posts were damaged in stone pelting.
On Monday, community elders discussed their apprehensions with police and requested locals to maintain peace in the coming days. Residents demanded police to chalk out routes for Muharram processions in advance so that there is no problem on Wednesday.
Police said that they are patrolling the area and holding meetings with residents to monitor the situation.
“Senior police officers are organising regular meetings with residents and Aman Committee members to ensure peace is maintained in the area. Extra police deployment has been done ahead of the festivals,” DCP (east) Rishi Pal said.
HT reporters spotted around 60 police officers in the area posted to ensure law and order.
For Trilokpuri residents, the memories of the 2014 riots are still fresh. In October 2014, Hindus and Muslims clashed after a Mata ki Chowki Jagran near a mosque on Diwali night. The clash continued for three days, during which about three dozen people, including policemen, were injured.
Mohammed Shaheed (59), a resident of Trilokpuri since 1977, blames unemployed youths in the area for the clashes. He says that the local men in their 20s often indulge in drinking and gambling, which results in minor fights in the area.
“Later these fights turn violent and people label it as communal clash. But what outsiders fail to see is that the fight was between two groups of hot-headed young men, who are jobless and frustrated with their lives,” said Shaheed.
He pointed out that the clash that happened on Saturday night was triggered after an argument broke out among some men who were gambling.
“Around 30 young men clashed initially that night, which became violent in soon. It wasn’t a fight between two communities,” he said.
Elders here said that a fight among youths is easily labelled as a clash between two communities.
Mufti Muhammed Umar of Madina Masjid in block 29 said, “In Trilokpuri, if a man beats someone, locals will not call him by his name. People will remember him by his religion. Locals would question if it was a Hindu or a Muslim who beat someone.”