AAP councillor Tahir Hussain | Twitter | @tahirhussainaap
Suspended AAP councillor Tahir Hussain | Twitter | @tahirhussainaap
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New Delhi: Suspended AAP member and councillor Tahir Hussain’s now-sealed home is seeing heightened police and media presence ever since allegations surfaced that he is behind the rioting that took place in the region Tuesday.

An FIR has also been filed against Hussain in connection with the killing of Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer Ankit Sharma.

The three-storey house in Chand Bagh served as Hussain’s billboard manufacturing unit as well as his residence, where he had been living with his wife and three children. According to multiple videos making the rounds, a mob is seen pelting stones from Hussain’s terrace. The police later also recovered a stash of Molotov cocktails, acid pouches, stones and slingshots from the terrace.

AAP councillor Tahir Hussain's house | Photo: Fatima Khan | ThePrint
AAP councillor Tahir Hussain’s house in Chand Bagh | Photo: Fatima Khan | ThePrint

Interestingly, Chand Bagh residents who live in the neighbourhood say the house under much limelight now once served as BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s office in 2015 — when he was still with the AAP. “He used to work out of the second floor of the building,” a local resident told ThePrint. Mishra was an MLA from Karawal Nagar constituency — of which Chand Bagh is a part — until he was removed from AAP in 2019.

Mishra has been under the scanner for his speech calling for the Delhi Police to disperse those protesting the citizenship law in Northeast Delhi or face consequences. Following his speech, clashes emerged in Northeast Delhi, which eventually escalated to a communal riot.

“But you won’t see the Delhi Police arresting Kapil Mishra. All the fury is reserved for Muslims. This is just another conspiracy to demonise a Muslim figure,” Mohammed Moinuddin, a 40-year-old resident of Chand Bagh, told ThePrint.

Hussain has admitted that he is the man in those widely-circulated videos, but has said rioters entered his home forcefully. In the videos, Hussain, wearing a red half-sleeve sweater, can be seen on the terrace along with a group of men pelting stones. He has claimed he left home on the night of 24 February along with his family, and came back next morning when he learnt “miscreants” had entered his home again.

Hussain, however, is also accused of being behind the murder of Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer Ankit Sharma, whose body was found in a drain Wednesday. The police has filed an FIR under IPC Sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) against Hussain, but the councillor has denied the allegations.

“I have always worked for Hindu-Muslim brotherhood and will continue to do so…I want to appeal to all of you to please have faith in me and trust me. I promise in the name of my children that I have not done this kind of thing,” he said in a video statement.

The councillor who won from Nehru Vihar’s ward number 59 in April 2017 enjoys considerable popularity and goodwill among the Muslims of Chand Bagh — not one willing to believe Hussain was behind the rioting, convinced that he is being “witch-hunted”.

Also read: Anger towards ‘other side’ echoes in Hindu-dominated areas of riot-hit Northeast Delhi

‘We survived because that mob fought back’

Away from the glaring police presence outside Hussain’s home-cum-factory lies Hussain’s councillor office inside one of Chand Bagh’s lanes. The office lies shut now, but the residents living around it call Hussain a “highly accessible” leader, who was “too simple for politics”.

“He was inherently a social worker, not particularly cut out for politics. He would help many poor families with the weddings of their daughters,” a resident said. Hussain, besides being a councillor, ran a factory which manufactured billboards and banners.

Originally from a village near Sambal in Uttar Pradesh, Hussain has been living in Northeast Delhi for several decades now. The local residents claim he had been a social activist before he contested the municipal election in 2017.

Shutters are down at Hussain's office | Photo: Fatima Khan | ThePrint
Shutters are down at Hussain’s office | Photo: Fatima Khan | ThePrint

Meanwhile, many in the locality believe while Hussain may not have been behind the mob, his men only acted in “self-defence”.

“The reason we are standing here, being able to talk to you is because of that mob. We would have been killed mercilessly if that mob didn’t fight back,” Qamrul Hasan, 50-year-old businessman from Chand Bagh, told ThePrint.

“People ask how a mob could take over a prominent politician’s home. But if it could take over Ehsan Jafri’s home, it can take over anyone’s home,” Hasan added.

Jafri was a Congress politician killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots when a mob attacked his home in Gulbarg society and lynched him.

“If you walk the entire lane around Hussain’s home, nearly all the shops have been set on fire. These are Muslim shops which were burnt, but no one wants to talk about that,” said 25-year-old Dilshad Ali whose mattresses shop was torched during the riots Tuesday.

Also read: ‘Never felt unsafe, now I’m scared’ — Northeast Delhi residents pack bags for safer places

‘We elected him. Didn’t think this was who he was’

The Hindus living in Chand Bagh, however, are split on what they make of the new video revelations around Hussain. His house is hardly 400 feet from that of the Sharma family that has now temporarily left the city.

“The few-odd Muslims living in this lane have left, and rightly so. Or they would have been forcefully pushed out or killed. That’s how bad the anger is after Hussain’s videos emerged,” 20-year-old Aakash Rai, who lives in Sharma’s neighbourhood, told ThePrint.

The anger against Hussain — a once much-loved figure in the area — is palpable among the community members, with many saying the videos shocked them.

“We elected him, so of course we had a completely different image of him. Today, we are certain he was behind the riots and the reason why so many of our brothers died,” said 23-year-old Rohit Rathore.

The lanes right across Hussain’s home are all Hindu-dominated. Many of them have closed their gates, saying it’s “for protection”.

“We are too scared to get out of our homes now. Who knows when another mob would attack us. Hussain orchestrated an entire riot,” 24-year-old Shekhar Thakur said, from across the closed gates.

The Hindu community that lives across Hussain's home has locked the gates from inside | Photo: Fatima Khan | ThePrint
The Hindu community that lives across Hussain’s home has locked the gates from inside | Photo: Fatima Khan | ThePrint

But not all in the Hindu community are convinced that Hussain is behind the attacks.

“He has always been extremely supportive towards the people here, regardless of the religion. We didn’t go to the main road that day so we never witnessed the stone-pelting. But based on what we know of him so far, this is hard to believe,” Dinesh Gupta, who runs a grocery store close to Hussain’s councillor office, told ThePrint.

Also read: Why Northeast Delhi violence is India’s first Hindu-Muslim riots with guns