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Desecration of mosque damaged harmony Delhi’s Ashok Nagar stood for, says Hindu resident

Three houses of Muslims in Northeast Delhi’s Ashok Nagar were set ablaze Tuesday. Residents thank Hindu neighbours for helping, blame ‘kids from outside’ for attack.

A mob climbed the minaret of the Badi Masjid and planted a saffron flag.
A mob climbed the minaret of the Badi Masjid and planted a saffron flag | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

New Delhi: Mohammed Rashid was attending a wedding with his family in their village in Muradnagar when their home in Northeast Delhi’s Ashok Nagar was set ablaze Tuesday afternoon.

Rashid, his wife and three children returned Wednesday to a home charred beyond recognition.

Mohammed Rashid and his family | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

“I can’t believe my eyes. When we left for the wedding three days ago, everything was fine. We’ve all just lived so happily here,” 48-year-old Rashid told ThePrint.

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Rashid’s home was one among the three houses set on fire by a mob Tuesday, just hours after Ashok Nagar’s Badi Masjid was vandalised and torched.

After the mob desecrated the interiors of the mosque, they climbed the minaret and planted a saffron flag, as well as the tricolour on top.

Ashok Nagar’s Badi Masjid | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

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‘Attackers were kids’

The residents of the other houses that were set afire told ThePrint that after the mosque was torched, the police told them to leave their homes for their own safety and took them to the police station.

“When we were at the police station, we started getting calls from our neighbours telling us that our home has been destroyed. We came back to this,” said Mohammad Khursheed, another Ashok Nagar resident whose house was set on fire.

The neighbours of the three families whose houses were burnt, said they were certain the mob was from outside Ashok Nagar, and were all “kids”.

“They were all kids under 15 years of age. If they were from here, then we would have recognised them and stopped them,” said 25-year-old Prateek Chahuhan, a resident.

Another resident, Ashok Raj, said he “could not fathom what had happened”.

“The mob’s vandalism of the mosque has damaged the harmony that this place stood for,” Raj added.

“Our neighbours are very nice people. They have always treated us with respect, they doused the fire in our house,” Bilkis bano, Khursheed’s wife told ThePrint.

‘They want us to show papers, but it’s all burnt now’

The residents also wallowed over losing all their documents in the fire.

“Hamein kagaz dikhane ko bolte rehte hain. Is dange mein hamare saare kaagaz jal gaye. Baccho ke kagaz, saare Aadhar card, sab jal gaye (We are told to show our documents, but this fire has now destroyed all our papers, Aadhar card),” said Parveen, another resident whose home was burnt down.

“All our documents and all our money is gone.”

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