Old Delhi clash: Police put up barricades to keep mobs apart
With groups of Hindu and Muslim residents accusing each other of vandalism, stone pelting and violence, following a parking fracas on Sunday night in Old Delhi’s Lal Kuan, police on Monday put up barricades in the locality to prevent the situation from escalating.
A small lane in the area saw heightened tensions with groups of Muslims and Hindus camping there, about a hundred metres from each other.
Between the clamouring groups, stood a heavy police deployment and barricades. Senior Delhi Police officers kept weaving between the two groups, urging both parties to remain calm.
Old-timers of the Walled City said this was the first time in decades that police had to intervene in such large numbers to prevent a riot-like situation.
The palpable tension that gripped Lal Kuan on Monday owed its origin to the dispute over the parking of a scooter.
It had soon escalated into a physical assault and that soon boiled over into a communal tension.
“We are extremely tense. Till this morning, we tried our best to convince people to maintain peace but things got out of hand when outsiders got involved,” Harigyan Jaiswal (73), who lives behind the Durga temple, said.
According to Ali Hassan (25), another resident of the locality, it was a simple argument between two families of different faiths that turned violent only because of the intervention of “miscreants” from both communities.
“We cannot imagine what could have happened if the police were not deployed in the right time. It is best to stay indoors until the situation is under control,” he said.
As tension increased, the Muslim family which was allegedly involved in the parking row was nowhere to be seen. The Hindu family, on the other hand, had dispatched their three children to their relative’s residence, locals said.
Outside the temple, a group of people of Hindus huddled in the shed from where they chanted slogans, only to be countered by Muslims who had gathered at another spot on the same lane.
The police set up a barricade to separate the two groups, and had to often dissuade those walked close to the barricades to engage in a direct exchange of abuses.
“A temple in the area has been vandalised, how can there be no tension? We will protest until we get justice,” said Bhupender Kumar (40), a kite-maker living close to the temple.
Another resident, Mohammad Yusuf (30), said, “The residents in the temple lane beat up a Muslim man and then they faked the vandalism. We will continue with the protest until we get justice.”
By evening, police deployment had fanned across the lanes and by-lanes to keep a check on sporadic instances of tension. By then, several video clips pertaining to the incident were doing the rounds of social media.