Saffron flags mark Hindu homes, shops in north-east Delhi
As riots ravage parts of north-east Delhi , residents in and around Bhajanpura, Gautam Puri and parts of Maujpur are painting saffron marks on their outer walls and main doors and putting up saffron flags in balconies and rooftops to identify as Hindus.
“Every Hindu house and shop here has a saffron marking as protection against the rioters. Though this is Hindu-dominated area, there are a few shops owned by Muslims. All of these have been burnt and damaged. People, including neighbours, are looting items from these shops,” a resident of Bhajanpura said on condition of anonymity.
It isn’t clear when the flags were put up.
“There are saffron flags put up on lane numbers eight, nine and ten (of Gautam Puri). There is no tension here yet but these could be a way of residents to protect themselves,” said Idrees, a resident of the colony who gave only one name.
He said that these flags were put up on Saturday, a day before violence broke out in the neighbouring areas.
All the flags look alike, said a resident of Maujpur, suggesting that this could mean some level of organisation.
“We are not sure if people have put up these flags on their own or if any group has put these up in the houses that they have identified. But all these flags look alike, with a similar pattern, colour and design,” said Prithvi Singh, a resident of Maujpur.
One resident of Gautam Puri, a shop owner, said the flags “were put up during the elections. It has nothing to do with the violence.” This person asked not to be named.
Still, it is a fact that many houses in Maujpur and Gautam Puri do have flags, as verified by HT’s reporters. It is also a fact that many shops in Maujpur damaged in the rioting belonged to Muslims.
“I owned a tailoring shop in Maujpur. A group of 10-15 people entered my shop on Monday evening with iron rods and sticks, broke all windows, threw the machines out and looted the cloth. The board of my shop was damaged and they poured acid over it,” said Mohammad Azhar, a shop owner in Maujpur.
Many residents of Bhajanpura and New Seelampur said that the groups that have been rioting in these areas were not locals, but brought in on trucks from outside only to instigate violence. Residents also said that they saw trucks with bricks and stones being unloaded near Yamuna Vihar main road.
“Yesterday (Monday) evening I saw at least 10 trucks being parked in the service lane here carrying young men. All of these people had backpacks with them. Now who knows what they were carrying?,” said Om Vir, a businessman in Bhajanpura.
A group of residents in New Seelampur also said that those who were walking around the lanes with stones and guns were outsiders.
“We have lived here all our lives and recognise people who are locals and who are not,” a resident said on the condition of anonymity.