The death toll in the violence that broke out in northeast Delhi five days ago reached 42 after a 60-year-old man was beaten to death in Shiv Vihar early Friday morning.
By Sukrita Baruah and Amil Bhatnagar
THE DEATH TOLL in the violence that broke out in northeast Delhi five days ago reached 42 after a 60-year-old man was beaten to death in Shiv Vihar early Friday morning, despite heavy police deployment in the area.
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The attack happened two days after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited the area and a day after Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting to discuss the situation and noted that there had been no major incident in the last 36 hours.
Police have identified the latest victim as Ayub Ansari, a scrap collector and resident of Loni in Ghaziabad, nearly 2 km from Shiv Vihar. They said that a probe is underway and no arrest had been made so far. According to police, 123 FIRs have been filed so far following the violence in the area and over 630 people detained.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Ayub’s son’s, 18-year-old son Salman Ansari, said a group of “unknown people” brought his father, who was severely injured, to their home from where he took him to a local clinic on their scrap cart around 6 am. After first-aid, Salman said, they left for further treatment at GTB Hospital but his father died on the way.
“My father had been at home for the last few days because of the violence. Today, he he left around 4 am-5 am to collect scrap, thinking the situation would have calmed down. I was woken up when some unknown people brought him to our home. He had wounds on his head, torso and legs. He was still conscious at the time and told me that some men had stopped him in Shiv Vihar and asked him his name. Once he answered, they beat him up,” Salman said.
Salman claimed that they called UP Police who didn’t provide him with a vehicle. “I carried my father to a nearby private clinic on the cart in which we keep the scrap we collect,” he said.
Salman, who also works as a scrap collector, said the clinic provided first-aid and bandaged the wounds. “But I could not get him admitted there because I was told it would cost us Rs 5,000,” he claimed.
“He needed more medical attention, so I let him rest for some time and then took an auto to GTB hospital. But on the way, I could see him weakening and bleeding. He died on the way,” said Salman, weeping outside the mortuary in the afternoon.
Both father and son lived together and would earn Rs 300-400 rupees per day, Salman said. “I have nobody left in this world,” he said, adding that his mother no longer lived with them.
Meanwhile, the northeast district saw peace meetings and police flag marches as residents attempted to piece their lives together after days of bloodshed.
At Farrukhiya mosque in New Mustafabad, locals gathered on the roof for Friday prayers in batches around 1 pm. During the violence Tuesday, a portion of the mosque and the neigbouring madarsa had been destroyed.
“The mosque sustained damage, but we have to move on from that. Our priority is that no more violence should take place since everyone in the area gets harmed. Initially, there was apprehension about coming out for prayers. But people are coming out and we believe the area will recover,” said Shahil, a resident of Mustafabad.
The stretch between Brijpuri crossing and Mustafabad was marked with stones lying on the roads, battered walls and torched establishments, including houses and a school.
While the East Delhi Municipal Corporation started cleaning the area, Delhi Police and CRPF personnel manned the entrances of lanes in both Old Mustafabad and New Mustafabad. Inside, locals huddled discussing the events of the past week.
“There is mistrust and people are avoiding stepping into certain areas, they are being cautious. We are ready to cooperate with the police and neighbours, but we will need to see how things will pan out,” said Jawed, a resident.
In Bhagirathi Vihar Phase 1, conversations revolved around the role of “outsiders”. “We have a school here and children need to come and study. We don’t have an issue with people offering namaz, but perhaps it can be avoided right now since outsiders tend to come in. We are being vigilant outside our houses and the area is on the edge,” said Gaurav Jain, a resident.
Shiv Vihar remained tense, with many residents having left their homes temporarily to seek shelter with relatives in other parts of the city. On the stretch between Karawal Nagar and Shiv Vihar, a burnt car or shop could be seen every 50 metres.
Two kilometres away in Chand Bagh, a small group of policemen kept watch. In almost all areas hit by the violence, residents said that while security personnel keeping watch was a deterrent to violence, the true test would be once the forces start leaving.
Speaking to reporters, Additional CP MS Randhawa said: “We have controlled the situation in northeast Delhi. A total of 123 FIRs have been registered till date and the local police along with Crime Branch are looking into the cases. Out of the 123 FIRs, 25 cases of firearms have been registered. We have detained 630 people and more will be detained as the probe is going on. To maintain law and order, we have conducted over 47 Aman Committee meetings in Northeast Delhi. Over 400 such meetings were held in different parts of Delhi. The meetings have helped us since people are listening and want to maintain peace.”