Uneasy calm amid allegations of cover-up in Delhi's Trilokpuri
On the face of it, the situation in Trilokpuri is under control and life is limping back to normalcy. But scratch a little deeper and the insecurities of the people become apparent.
In the blocks that are worst affected by the post-Diwali violence, even the sight of someone taking pictures these days makes the residents uncomfortable and edgy.
In Muslim-dominated blocks, the fear is more palpable. Being a minority community and having very little faith in the police have made them apprehensive about the outcome of any investigation.
So, even though the lockdown was lifted for three hours on Tuesday afternoon, these Muslim dominated areas remained tense. Women were seen lining up outside vegetable vendors and returning home briskly.
In other areas of Trilokpuri, the markets were abuzz with activity, with women coming out, buying essentials and idly chatting.
Communally charged area
Communal clashes are not new in the area. Incidents such as sexual harassment of a woman had triggered tension in the past.
"Fights between boys from both communities are common but they usually get resolved immediately. This time the violence went out of hand. This clearly shows that the riot was not communal but political. Former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya along with some Bajrang Dal activists came here on the night of Diwali with 300-400 outsiders to incite violence. The locals joined in but the culprits mainly were politicians," said Sadat Khan, a resident of Block 27, one of the worst affected areas.
Residents of other blocks, however, denied the involvement of BJP or Bajrang Dal leaders.
"The whole clash was about members of the other community boys disrespecting our faith and our God. Once the stone pelting started, we responded. A lot of outsiders were involved. Small clashes are normal here, but we live in peace. Our Diwali was ruined this year," said Balbir Singh, an auto driver who lives in Block 30, Trilokpuri.
Muslim businesses being targeted?
Residents of Block 27 said the politically motivated mob specially targeted establishments owned by Muslims.
A to Z - the biggest clothes and accessories store in the area - was gutted on Saturday morning.
While the police claim that the fire was due to a short circuit, the owners say that seven to eight men entered the shop from a door on the roof and set it on fire.
"The shutter on the roof was kicked in. We had bought supplies worth lakhs for Diwali and Bhai Dooj and had locked every entrance. How was the shutter kicked in if the act was not deliberate? It took more than two hours for the fire tenders to reach the spot. The police were sitting right outside our shop. How is it that they did not see the fire start?" asked Saira Banu, whose brother owns the store.
According to police sources, there was very little smoke and no flames initially. But before the cops could realize what was happening, a massive fire gutted the entire three-storey store.
"Is it possible that police men didn't recognise a fire that destroyed such a big store? This is a cover-up," claimed Israr Khan, the owner of the store.
According to members of NGOs working in the area, the communal tension is being exploited by property agents in the area.
"A metro station is being built a few meters away from Block 27 and the property rates are going up. Land sharks think they can make a killing if they manage to buy property at cheap rates now and this is why locally businesses are being targeted," said an NGO volunteer.