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Why Delhi riots are different — what ThePrint’s 13 reporters, photojournalists saw on ground

In Episode 400 of #CutTheClutter, Shekhar Gupta decluttered the Delhi riots with ThePrint's team of intrepid young journalists.

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New Delhi: The national capital is witnessing communal riots it hasn’t seen in decades. While the anti-Sikh riots engulfed the city in 1984, Hindu-Muslim conflicts of this nature are largely unheard of.

There have been Hindu-Muslim riots in the city in the past, but they have been a distance apart from each other. Here are some of them:

  • On 5 May 1974, in north Delhi’s Sadar Bazaar, a fight that started off with two urchins from each community escalated into a riot that led to 10 deaths. Sadar Bazaar remained under curfew for 44 days.
  • In May 1987, a series of rumours about events happening in Meerut triggered riots in a mosque in Hauz Khas, where mobs went on a rampage. 15 deaths were reported in one and a half days, but 12 of them were in police firing. The police took swift and effective action in this case.
  • Just after the Babri Masjid demolition, Seelampur saw riots on 10 December 1992. Estimates of the death vary, but the highest is at 30 people.

Also read: There’s fear, grief and dejection after Delhi riots but Shaheen Bagh resolves to protest on

What makes these riots different

There are issues in Delhi that make violence here different from a ‘straightforward’ riot. There are several factors behind this:

Firstly, Delhi doesn’t have many mixed populations. Delhi only has about 12 per cent of Muslims, and the areas in which they live tend to be ghettoised because they tend to be part of the working classes. Many used to live in central Delhi in Turkman Gate — a slum — in the mid 1970s. However, a demolition drive helmed by Sanjay Gandhi destroyed these settlements and pushed them to the outskirts.

Soon, Muslim immigrants were also encouraged to settle in these areas, because they became Congress vote banks. Problems arise when populations are ghettoised.

Secondly, the Delhi Police has a record of consistently failing the city when it comes to a crisis of this kind, involving a large number of people. The biggest example of this is the 1984 riots. Delhi is where the Government of India’s authority sits, and is equipped with the best police force, so the Delhi Police’s consistent failure can only be political.

Lastly, Delhi is India’s political capital, but it has no master — there is no mayor, governor, or chief minister who can be held accountable for law and order.

Also read: Why Modi decided to send Ajit Doval to enforce the law, bring peace to Northeast Delhi

What ThePrint’s reporters saw

Thirteen reporters and photojournalists from ThePrint’s bureau were out covering the riots across the areas that were hit in Delhi — Babarpur, Jaffrabad, Maujpur and Gokulpuri. This is what they had to say.

“There were people running amok with sticks and lathis, not allowing any kind of videography or pictures. It became clear the mob would allow you (to proceed) depending on your name, organisation, and whether they could trust you,” said reporter Fatima Khan.

Veteran photojournalist Praveen Jain said mobs were targeting those with cameras more this time as compared to riots in the past. Reporter Simrin Sirur noted that Rapid Action Force (RAF) officers just stood by even as members of the Kardam Puri community asked for help for a child who had been injured by a bullet.

“There were amplifiers in the Babarpur area, and pro-CAA gathering blasted provocative slogans and hurled insults at minorities,” said correspondent Tarun Krishna.

Senior assistant editor Ananya Bharadwaj said she saw a crowd of Hindu men destroying a Muslim cemetery. “My hair was pulled, they heckled me, pulled my clothes. I felt more unsafe than I did when I covered Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370,” she said.

Assistant editor Swagata Yadavar spent Wednesday at Guru Tej Bahadur (GTB) Hospital in Shahdara. “There was no animosity between the Hindu and Muslim families in the hospital — what you see (is) common people living their common lives, who were caught in all this violence,” she said.

Photojournalists Manisha Mondal, Urjita Bharadwaj and Suraj Singh Bisht said they had to be especially careful, given that they were carrying cameras which became a target.

“We [Simrin and I] were a few hundred meters away from gunshot firing. I decided I needed to protect myself. A Hindu man gave me a lathi, and a Muslim gave me a helmet,” said Mondal. Urjita said she and Fatima — whom she was with — constantly exchanged names depending on the crowd.

Journalist Revathi Krishnan recalled having seen a dead body in the context of a riot for the first time, “The job de-sensitises you in a way, because even if it makes you sick you can’t show any of that.”

Journalists Kairvy Grewal, Soniya Agrawal, and Samyak Pandey said what stood out was that people were still hopeful and confident that their neighbours, of the other community, would not engage in this level of violence. Instead, most blamed outsiders.

Also read: Who is Kapil Mishra? BJP leader being blamed for Delhi riots had once called Modi ISI agent

You can watch the full episode here.

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  1. मेरे मुस्लिम भाई एवं बहनों आप कितने ज़्यादा अंधेरे मे रहते हैं ज़रा विचार करिए.
    इसमे कतयी शक़की कोयी भी गुंज़ाइश नही की ये दुनिया सच मे तबाही की ओर बड़ी तेज़ी के साथ भागी जारही है. और मैं धन्यवाद देना चाहूँगा आपके जैसे तथा कथित स्वतन्त्र पत्रकारिता का झूठा और निर्लज्जता पूर्ण दंभ भरने वाले पर्यवेक्षकों और पत्रकारों काऔर वो इसलिए कि वो सब सफेद झूठ जिन्हे आपने खुद गाडा दुनिया को दिखाने के लिए और ये समझाने के लिए कि दुनिया का का सबसे महान देश जो पहचाना जाता रहा है हमेशा से ही दुनिया के लगभग सभी मौज़ूदा धर्म ओर विश्वास को मानने वाले लोगों के अधिकतम संभव सामंजस्या पूर्ण सह अस्तित्व के लिए, वो अब अचानक ही असहिष्णु हो गया अपने खुद के हमवतन मगर गिनती मे अपेक्षाकृत कम मुस्लिम लोगों के प्रति …
    एक बात मैं सारी दुनिया मे मौज़ूद आप जैसे सभी धूर्त और हमारी महान भारत माता से उद्भावित हुई और अंतिम सत्यकी महान सनातन संस्कृति से ईर्ष्या रखने वाले नीच व्यक्तियों / पत्रकारों / संस्थानों, सरकारों को स्पष्ट शब्दों मे यह बताना बेहद आवश्यक समझता हूँ कि आप स्सब चाहे मिलकर ही क्यू ना अपनी बातों से/ अपनी हरकतों से और अपनी चालबाज़ियों से जितनी चाहे गंदगी उदेलते रहें लेकिन किसी भी हालमे आपके यह घृणास्पद और निंदनीय प्रयास हमारी महान जन्मभूमि, हमारी अध्यात्मिक धरा मतलब कि हमारी भारत माता की आभाको तनिक भी धूमिल नहीं कर पाएँगे.
    और एक बेहद महत्वपूर्णा बात भारत मे बसने वाले सारे मुस्लिमस और अन्य सभी अल्प संख्यक भारतीया जान मानस से कहना चाहूँगा की आप सब ध्यान दीजिए और महसूस करके देखिूए की असल मे बात क्या है. सारा का सारा षड्यंत्र रचा गया है हमारे महान देश भारत के प्रत्यक्ष और अप्रत्यक्ष शत्रुओं द्वारा, और इसमे उनकी मदद कर रहे हैं हमारे देश मे ही पैदा हुए लेकिन खुद को हिंदोस्तानी कहलाने मे शर्म महसूस करने वाले दलाल किस्म के नेता लोग जो हमारे देश मे ही मौज़ूद अधिसंख्यमुस्लिम समाज को उनके हृदय मे कहीं ना कहीं दबे काल्पनिक और पूरी तरह से तथ्य हीन मोदी विरोधी विचारों का सहारा लेकर ये भ्रम पैदा करने मे क़ामयाब हो रहे हैं की उनका खुद का वाटन अब उनका ही ना रहा.
    मेरा मतलब हैकि ये बात तो सिर्फ़ फ़िज़ूलमज़ाक की तरह उड़ा देने वालीं थी की हमे कोई हमारे देश से बाहर कर सकता है लिकिन आप उन भेड़ियों की बातों मे आकर सड़कों पेर निकल आए और वो भी एक ऐसे विषय का विरोध करने के नाम पर जो की आज तक इस दुनिया मे कभी हुआ ही नही और नाही कभी भविष्या मे भी हो सकेगा.
    आप दिल से सोचकर फ़ैसला करिएगा की क्या पिच्छले ६ साल मे कोई एक भी केंद्र सरकार का जनहित मे किया गया फ़ैसला ऐसा हुआ जिससे ये दृष्टित हो की मोदी सरकार ने धार्मिक वर्गीकरण या की धार्मिक भेद भाव किया.
    सीधा सीधा जवाब है …. नहीं (नो)
    वक़्त आ गया है की हम सब हिंदू मुस्लिम एक होकर सच्चे राष्ट्र वादी बने और युगपुरुष नरेन्द्रा दामोदर मोदी के पीछे उनका सहारा बनकर खड़े हों.
    मैं वादा करता हूँ की जीतने मुस्लिम/ भाई बहन मेरे जानकार हैं उनमे से किसी एक के लिए भी अगर कभी कोई ऐसा समय आए की उन्हे भारत वासी ना समझा जाए तो जब तक वो अपना हक़ नहीं पाएँगे मैं खुद को भी भारत वासी नहीं कहूँगा.
    जयहिंद, जयहिंद की सेना, भारत माता की जय, वन्दे मातरम

  2. Oh just shut up. People are blaming tahir hussain for all this. We can see clearly in videos that he was carrying a rod and providing shelter to the protestors carrying petrol bobm, acids( by which many policemen were injured) and bricks. And there was another video in which shahrukh was pointing gun at a policeman. But thankfully that policeman somehow managed all that and saved people by getting serious injuries himself. ACP, DCP, Intelligence bearue person and many like them died and injured. If you are really concerned, then go and do the unbiased reporting and show both faces of coin equally and not just one.

  3. Totally biased reporting against the Hindus. One more media outlet which sells itself for few dollars.

  4. P M /HM; Modi-Shah is fulfilling their lifelong ambition of converting India in to Gujarat model. These killings, burning, massacres and genocides are being planned and executed to make India Hindustan free of Muslim minority. The Hindu goons are dreaming to wipe out millions of Muslims using all means using Gujarat Model of their pogrom. Majority of Indians are watching calmly doing nothing like the civilized world had watched the Holocaust doing nothing but now shedding their crocodile’s tears for the last 70 years chanting “never again”.
    Delhi CM Kejriwal did not stand up to condemn the rioters, killers, thugs and goons but waited too long to get order from his Bajrang Bali and finally asking the dead Gandhiji to help the victims rather than himself??
    ‘If really we live in a democratic country with a Constitutional freedom, we must stand up to stop this government supported anarchy, mobism and communal anti-constitutional ideology demanding swift and unbiased action from the government to control these barbaric killings, destruction, massacres and genocide or wait to watch hundred of Gujarat type or more worst communal riots-killings all over India.’The civilized world and the U N has more responsibilities to wake up soon to save 200 million Muslim minority of India.
    ‘I hope the SC of India will also use her power to stop such massacres (where more than 38 human lives have been lost so far, properties of mostly Muslims have damaged) taking some responsibility of this carnage for their own unwillingness and lethargic approach resolving the CAA validity issue pending with them for the last 3 months. When hundreds and thousands of legal experts are voicing their objection of this law, why the SC is sleeping on their verdict??’Hope they will take emergency action to resolve this issue and save India and Indians.

  5. First of all a billion thanks and much sincere gratitude to journalists at The Print. Prayers for their safety. Thanks Shekhar Gupta and the whole The Print team. looks like 2020 will be a very busy time for all journalists.

    • Congratulations and a million tha ks to the print for putting the real stories out with no fear… For standing for truth and unity in this time of violence and segregation that is destroying the moral and social integrity of india

      • इसमे कतयी शक़की कोयी भी गुंज़ाइश नही की ये दुनिया सच मे तबाही की ओर बड़ी तेज़ी के साथ भागी जारही है. और मैं धन्यवाद देना चाहूँगा आपके जैसे तथा कथित स्वतन्त्र पत्रकारिता का झूठा और निर्लज्जता पूर्ण दंभ भरने वाले पर्यवेक्षकों और पत्रकारों काऔर वो इसलिए कि वो सब सफेद झूठ जिन्हे आपने खुद गाडा दुनिया को दिखाने के लिए और ये समझाने के लिए कि दुनिया का का सबसे महान देश जो पहचाना जाता रहा है हमेशा से ही दुनिया के लगभग सभी मौज़ूदा धर्म ओर विश्वास को मानने वाले लोगों के अधिकतम संभव सामंजस्या पूर्ण सह अस्तित्व के लिए, वो अब अचानक ही असहिष्णु हो गया अपने खुद के हमवतन मगर गिनती मे अपेक्षाकृत कम मुस्लिम लोगों के प्रति …

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