Delhi MCD polls: Voters in Jahangirpuri recall clashes, demolition drive

Updated on Dec 05, 2022 06:52 AM IST

Clashes broke out in three blocks of Jahangirpuri on April 16, with the Hindu and Muslim communities blaming each other for the provocation that led to the confrontation between the two sides.

Voters after casting their votes for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, at a polling station in Jahangirpuri area, in New Delhi, on Sunday. Jahangirpuri had witnessed communal clashes. (PTI)
Voters after casting their votes for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, at a polling station in Jahangirpuri area, in New Delhi, on Sunday. Jahangirpuri had witnessed communal clashes. (PTI)
ByRisha Chitlangia

Nearly eight months after communal clashes rocked north-west Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, the area’s residents came out in large numbers on Sunday to vote in the municipal elections.

Clashes broke out in three blocks of Jahangirpuri on April 16, with the Hindu and Muslim communities blaming each other for the provocation that led to the confrontation between the two sides. While the Hindu group said Muslims started pelting stones at a procession taken out on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, while Muslim residents said the procession attendees incited the violence through sloganeering.

Subsequently, an anti-encroachment drive was conducted by the BJP-led North Delhi Municipal Corporation (north MCD) on April 20. The demolition drive was stopped the same day on orders of the Supreme Court, and Jahangirpuri has remained by and large peaceful since then.

Voting for the MCD elections on Sunday, Jahangirpuri residents said local issues such as poor sanitation and the state of roads were among their key concerns, but the impact of the communal clashes and subsequent encroachment removal drive will be visible in the election outcome of the three municipal wards of Bhalswa, Adarsh Nagar and Azadpur which were affected by the events in April.

“People have not forgotten what happened just a few months back. We suffered a lot, as we couldn’t open our shops for days and lived in fear for months,” Hannan (36), who has an electrical appliance repair shop, said.

“For nearly two months, there was heavy police deployment in the area and people were not allowed to congregate in groups. Residents were in fact scared of stepping out of their homes. Then, in the demolition drive, a lot of people lost their livelihood. All these things will have a bearing on the election outcome in our ward (Bhalswa),” he said.

In Jahangirpuri’s C-block, which has a sizable Muslim population and falls under the Bhalswa ward, residents said the polls were a straight contest between the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Akibul Ansari, who works as a plumber, said, “People will vote for a party which they feel will support them and stand by them during difficult times, rather than vote on issues such as sanitation, or the condition of roads.”

However, across the road, in Blocks G and B, which have a sizable Hindu population, residents said the elections would boil down to the AAP or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has ruled the MCD for the last 15 years.

Ganesh Kumar Gupta, a resident of B block, said his juice shop was demolished by the corporation. “We somehow managed to protect ourselves when the clashes broke out. But we suffered due to the encroachment removal drive by the corporation. They mindlessly demolished the structures. My shop was allotted by the DDA, but municipal officers didn’t listen to me and demolished it. I have taken legal action against the corporation,” he said.

According to Gupta, most vendors who were affected by the anti-encroachment drive, are back. “They are back, as many had a valid vending licence from the corporation,” he said, adding that he reopened his juice shop in November after carrying out repairs that he claims cost him 5 lakh.

Ashok Kumar, another resident, said, “There is a permanent police booth in the area now. While the situation is normal at present and people don’t talk about the clash anymore, it is there in the back of everyone’s mind. People will never forget it.”

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