Delhi News

A week after violence, locals in Jahangirpuri trying to resume normal life

In the past week, Jahangirpuri’s neighbourhoods around C and D block had it all- a communal clash, an anti-encroachment demolition drive and political showdown. However, the local residents have decided to move-on and focus on rebuilding personal bonds in order to bring life back to normal. Behind the police barricades, in the narrow lanes of the Jahangirpuri, the shops have started to reopen like the old days. The vegetable vendors and fruit vendors can be easily spotted. The juice centres await the customers and shops offering sewaiyan are all decked up. However, the locals say that business is down due to the communal clashes and the outsiders are staying away from the neighbourhood due to the heavy police deployment.

A recap: communal clashes and demolition drive

On the evening of April 16, communal clashes broke out near the Jahangirpuri mosque. Kushal Chowk turned into a battle ground where the Hindu and Muslim frenzied mob resorted to stone. The Delhi Police’s swift action resulted in controlling the communal clashes which were fast snowballing. However, the tension in the area further escalated the next day when stones were pelted at a Delhi Police team which had reached the riot-hit area to arrest the accused and suspects in the case. On April 20, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation reached the neighbourhood with bulldozers and, under heavy security deployment, carried out an anti-encroachment drive. The bulldozers remained in action until nearly 90 minutes after the Supreme Court’s status quo order. The demolition drive stopped only when Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Brinda Karat reached the spot and literally stood in front of the bulldozers citing the SC’s order.

ALSO READ: Delhi top cop Rakesh Asthana interrogates Jahangirpuri violence prime accused Ansar

While the municipal corporation’s bulldozers were brought to a halt, the political showdown over the demolition drive peaked. Several political parties, including the Congress, AAP, CPI, Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party sent their delegations to meet the families which faced the communal clashes and the municipal corporation’s bulldozers. The BJP remained the primary target of all these political delegations.

On the other hand, the Delhi Police crackdown on the accused of the Hanuman Jayanti Shobha Yatra communal clashes continued. Several arrests were made and at least five accused now face stringent charges, including the National Security Act.

Resuming life, reopening shops and waiting for normalcy

On Saturday, Jahid-ul Islam had opened his juice centre in the lane right next to the Jahangirpuri temple located in the riot-hit neighbourhood. He said that business was slowly returning on track. Islam, who hails from West Bengal’s Nandigram, emphasised that the locality had started to calm down right after the communal clashes and the Hindu-Muslim neighbours didn’t want the tension to spiral.

“Tomorrow we will be taking out the Tiranga-Samjhauta Yatra. Hopefully, after that, life will start coming on track. I will join the Tiranga Yatra myself, so will others from this locality,” Islam said. He further added that the locals were facing little inconvenience due to the barricades set up by the Delhi Police.

ALSO READ: Had papers but they demolished my juice shop, says Jahangirpuri’s Ganesh Gupta

The main entry points of the riot-hit areas of Jahangirpuri, including the mosque-temple lane, have been kept out of bounds for the outsiders. The police personnel deployed at the barricades verify the identity of the locals before letting them in. All possible attempts are being made to keep the TV cameras away from these lanes. This also means the customers who frequent the markets in these localities during the Ramzan are unable to do so.

“We have already suffered losses due to Covid triggered lockdowns. Now, this communal tension has derailed the business,” Rajbir Singh, who runs a sweet shop in the area said. As he packed the milk cakes in the containers, Singh added, “Business used to increase multi fold during Ramzan. Many customers from outside used to visit these markets for shopping and acquire the essentials for the Eid festivities. But due to the police barricading, they are unable to access Jahangirpuri market. Many are scared due to the communal tension and they ask why so much force has been deployed in the area.”

But Singh, like many others, is hopeful that things will change after Sunday’s Tiranga yatra.

“If both brothers – Hindu and Muslims – come together, things will be back on track. We Hindu -Muslims have been living together for years. When peace and harmony is restored, the market will improve. Hopefully, the Tiranga yatra will be a measured step in that direction,” he said.

Fridaus Amen, a resident of Jahangirpuri’s C block, said, “The situation is improving with every passing day. It was the outsiders who disrupted the peace in Jahangirpuri. Restrictions on the lanes have been lifted by the Delhi Police, there no inconvenience in travelling within Jahangirpuri now.”

Fridaus Amen, a resident of Jahangirpuri’s C block. (Photo: India Today/Amit Bhardwaj)

The elderly person, who runs a car seat-cover business, did underline that there was anger amongst the locals against the municipal corporation’s demolition drive. “Netas do whatever they want for votes. But these developments have not changed the relations between the neighbours,” Amen said.

ALSO READ: No demolition in Jahangirpuri for now, next hearing in 2 weeks | What happened in Supreme Court today

ALSO READ: After day-long political showdown, Jahangirpuri locals declare restoration of peace

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