New Delhi: Monu Kumar’s skull is still bloody from when a mob beat him up relentlessly using sticks and stones Monday night. The 25-year-old’s bike is charred, and his left eye looks like it has popped a vein.
Monu, a resident of Northeast Delhi’s Brahmpuri, had stepped out to buy medicines with his father, Vinod Kumar, anticipating a curfew due to the violence going on in this part of the capital city. But a mob stopped the duo midway and beat them up mercilessly. While Monu survived the brutal assault, his 51-year-old father did not.
“We don’t know where they came from. All I remember is trying to keep my father alive,” Monu told ThePrint.
He said he knocked on the doors of at least 10 families — all Hindus — but no one helped.
“Jab apno ne hi madad nahi ki, toh doosro ko kya bolein? (When our own didn’t help, what do we say about others?),” said Vinod’s wife Madhu.
Vinod Kumar was one of many Hindus and Muslims who were killed in the Delhi riots, according to the official list. But while this family asserted that “lives lost from both communities are saddening”, other residents of Brahmpuri didn’t echo the sentiment.
“Hindu toh shanti-priya hain, yeh sab us taraf se hua hai (Hindus are peace-loving, all this has happened from that side),” said Virendra Vashisht, a resident of Brahmpuri.
Brahmpuri residents’ despair over losing loved ones and the anger towards “the other side” is very similar to what can be witnessed in the other Hindu-dominated areas of Northeast Delhi affected by the violence.
As 25-year-old Parvesh Jain put it: “I have no hope of things getting any better any time soon. Hindu-Muslim relationships will suffer greatly because of this.”
Damage worth crores, AAP MLA’s ‘apathy’
In Shiv Vihar, several shops and homes owned by Hindus were torched on 24 February. Residents alleged that the incineration continued until Thursday morning.
Anil Sharma owned three shops that were set afire — Anil Sweet Corner, Anil Pastry, and a workhouse for both of them. Sharad Kumar, who was employed at the workhouse, told ThePrint: “A mob from the nearby Aqsa Masjid surrounded us from the afternoon of 24 February, and then burned everything down in the next 4-5 hours with petrol bombs and acid bottles. They caused damage of more than a crore to the shops, as each shop had materials worth Rs 40-50 lakh each.”
Sharad continued: “A Muslim mob from adjoining Mustafabad area kept coming back to throw stones and petrol until this morning (Thursday), after which we recovered mutilated bodies of workers which were trapped in a nearby building and workshops.”
A massive parking lot for 60-80 cars was also set alight Monday. The burnt-out shells of the vehicles are still standing, surrounded by stones, petrol bombs, desi bombs and acid-filled bottles.
Pawan Kumar, who manages the parking lot, blamed the “apathy” of Haji Yunus, the Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Mustafabad.
“We appealed to him to reach out to the authorities for sending a distress signal during vandalism of our properties, but he said everything is normal,” Pawan said.
“There was fire everywhere, and they even blocked the road by piling up burnt-out vehicles and stones. I had to run for my life, jumping onto the roofs of nearby houses, and when I came back, everything was destroyed.”
Tale of two schools
Two schools that stood adjacent to each other in Shiv Vihar sum up the story of the riots — Rajdhani Public School and DRP School.
Residents alleged that Rajdhani Public School, owned by a person named Faisal, was used as a command post to “orchestrate attacks” in the area.
Manoj, watchman and caretaker at the school, said the mob threatened him with the life of his wife and children to open the gate. Reduced to tears, he said: “I will never come back to Delhi. I had to live without food for 60 hours and nobody came to my rescue. I will go back to my village in Uttarakhand and never come back here.”
ThePrint visited the roof of the five-storey building, which has a considerably clear view of the area. The roof was fitted with a crudely-built catapult, from which stones and petrol bombs were launched at nearby homes and shops.
A number of stones and petrol bombs could be seen strewn around the catapult, along with dozens of empty bottles, matchboxes, stones and paper.
Rajdhani Public School only sustained some damage — to its furniture and window panes. But the adjacent DRP School, owned by Pankaj Sharma, was targeted by a mob, and sustained heavy damage.
“Muslim mothers came to me Monday morning, asking to let their wards go home early, as they feared a riot. But I didn’t know my school would be burnt down,” Sharma said.
Gunshot that ‘forever damaged’ relationships
Atul Kumar, 35, had gone on a morning walk at around 5 am Tuesday when suddenly, a bullet pierced his stomach near Brahmpuri’s Shiv Mandir.
“It took me a minute to even comprehend what had happened to me,” said Kumar, who was rushed to the Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital in Shahdara by his neighbours. “The hospital refused to treat me, and instead referred me to GTB Hospital.”
Atul says he survived, but the gunshot has “forever damaged” relationships in the area.
“We thought we were completely safe in our area, but it turns out we are not. Since then, Brahmpuri has been rife with rumours about what could potentially happen next. It’s a very sensitive time.”