A day after signages named after Muslim personalities were found defaced, allegedly by a right wing political outfit Shiv Sena Hindustan, the police found that they were not just blackened and pasted with pictures, anti-religious slogans were also painted behind them.
Sources from Delhi Police confirmed that it was a hate crime. Signages on both sides of Ferozshah Road, Safdar Hashmi Marg, Tughlak Road, Akbar Road, Humayun Road, Shahjahan Road and Aurangzeb Road were found smeared in black ink around Wednesday midnight.
To avoid any possibility of communal violence, the police immediately pulled down posters pasted by the group.
“Our immediate action was to pull down these posters and remove the anti-religious slogans written behind the boards. We have registered FIRs and have started investigating the case. CCTV footage was being examined and people who reported the matter were questioned to identify those involved,” said a police official.
A case had been registered under the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act 2007.
Sources in New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) — the civic agency responsible for these areas — said the posters had the names of Shiv Sena Hindustan leaders. The council has started work to replace the vandalised boards. Sources said that by Saturday, all the boards will be replaced.
“Names of about four people were mentioned in the posters. This seems like an attempt to make a political statement by a group that wanted to be identified. This is also the reason why the roads around central Delhi were targeted,” said an NDMC official. He said that the names of Rajinder Singh, Charan Singh, Dinesh Kumar and Vinay Sonkar, all senior members of the group, were mentioned on the poster.
The Shiv Sena Hindustan said it wanted to draw the government’s attention to their protest. “Seventeen of our people were out between 11pm on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. We have no intention to cause damage to public property but we want the government to know our protest against conversions,” said Rajinder Singh, national president of Shiv Sena Hindustan.
The Aam Aadmi Party also issued a statement against the act of sabotage on Friday.
“In an appalling development, roads named after Muslim personalities have been defaced by radical elements in Delhi right under the seat of Central government ruled by the BJP-led coalition. The incident, brushed aside as an act of routine hooliganism by the Delhi Police, is a stigma on the social fabric of the nation’s capital,” the statement read.
“The Modi-led government is helping right wing groups in talibanising the country... It seems that the dream of ‘achhe din’ marketed by our PM and his campaign managers also include days when intolerance would be at its height,” the statement added.