Grief, anger, uneasy calm prevails in Seelampur

Family members of many of the 32 arrested waited outside the police station for news of their kin.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2006 14:38 IST

Large crowds, families in mourning and an uneasy calm. This was the scene outside the Seelampur police station on Thursday, a day after clashes between traders and police in the area left three people dead and several injured.

Seelampur is a crowded area in the northeastern periphery of the capital, packed with cheek-by-jowl homes, shops and shanties. The area also has a large concentration of Muslims.

Family members of many of the 32 arrested waited outside the police station for news of their kin. Many claimed that their arrested kin were not involved in Wednesday's clash, but were mere bystanders.

The people were arrested late on Wednesday night on the charge of instigating violence and causing damage to property.

"My brother is part of the civil defence team of the area and was helping the police control the crowds. But police have arrested him on charges of disrupting peace and order in the area," said Manoj Nayak, brother of 18-year-old Jeetu Nayak, who was picked up by the police late on Wednesday.

"They have not allowed us to meet him. He has not even eaten anything since yesterday. We do not know if they have given him anything to eat at all," said Jeetu's brother-in-law, Harsh Goswami, who has been sitting outside the police station since Wednesday night.

"Jeetu had recently completed his civil defence training course and had got the mandatory identity card after completing the course," said Goswami.

"He was at the place where the rioting took place, but was there to help the police. He was working with them since morning and organised water and refreshments for the police personnel on duty," added Manoj Nayak.

Seventy-three-year-old Radha Devi, whose grandson Ajay Kishore was picked up by the police, was in tears too.

"He is an innocent boy. He had gone to get his motorcycle repaired. But we were informed by neighbours later that Ajay had been taken away by a police team," said Devi.

She said Ajay had recently joined work as a salesman at a shop in Lajpat Nagar market in south Delhi. He had gone to the motorcycle repair shop after returning from his work late in the evening, she maintained.

"I brought food for him last night, but we were not allowed to meet him. He has not eaten anything," said Radha Devi, with tears in her eyes as she waited for the police to inform her about her grandson.

"We are just the two members in the family. My son and daughter-in-law were killed earlier in an accident," Radha Devi said.

The violence took place during a protest by traders against the sealing of commercial properties operating from residential areas in contravention of building bye-laws.

"We are on the lookout for some Bangladeshis whom we suspect of having fired on the protesting crowds with locally assembled weapons," said Rajiv Ranjan, additional deputy commissioner of police.

According to him, since the area is located on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border it was easy for people there to acquire weapons from the neighbouring state and commit crimes in the capital.

First Published: Sep 21, 2006 10:57 IST