By A Correspondent / New Delhi
Tempers ran high on Monday as mischief mongers on both sides tried to incite mobs. Police kept tight vigil the as tensions loomed and apprehensions lurked in the locality till late evening
A minor argument between two men over the parking of a motorcycle took a communal colour at Lal Kuan bazaar under Hauz Qazi police station in old Delhi late on Sunday night.
Police intervened quickly and managed to not let the situation blow up into a full-fledged communal conflagration or to spread to other areas in the walled city that has mostly mixed population, tension gripped the area on Monday as groups from both the communities gathered at different places and raised religious slogans.
One community accused the other of ransacking a small mandir while the latter claimed that the clash erupted after some people from the other community thrashed a boy and fractured his hand.
Police had been trying to contain the situation since the last night itself and tried its best to ensure that no further clash takes place.
The police put up barricades to keep rival mobs away from each other.The police put up barricades to keep rival mobs away from each other.
The police had involved the elders from both communities late on Sunday night itself and restored the idols that were damaged during the ensuing stone and bottle pelting between the two groups.
Shopkeepers quickly downed the shutters as the word spread and made way back to the safety of their homes. The entire hardware goods market from the Hauz Qazi to Fatehpuri soon wore a deserted look.
People living in the locality rushed to the kirana stores and vegetable vendors to stock groceries. In no time, there was no groceries to be found at the shops, most of which were operating with half-open shutters as the hassled owners kept an eye on the far end of the road for any signs of trouble.
The police kept tight vigil and put up barricades at different places, which separated the mobs of the two communities by a few hundred metres. Senior police officials also tried to mediate and defuse the situation.
The imams (prayer leaders) of the mosques at Lal Kuan and the community elders appealed to the youth on masjid loudspeakers to disperse and maintain peace. Local MLA and Delhi government minister Imran Hussain too tried to persuade the people in the area to maintain peace. He was, however, stopped from going across to the other side of the divide by a few senior police officials who sensed trouble.
According to reports trouble started on Sunday night around 10.30 pm when a teenager Aas Mohammed parked his bike outside Gali Chabuk Sawar. To this, Sanjiv who sells chow mein there, objected and told the boy to remove his bike. An argument ensued between the two and they came to blows. A few men sitting across the road joined in and badly thrashed Aas Mohammed, whose hand was fractured. The assaulters are said to be drunk at that time.
The incident soon took a communal colour when a rumour spread on WhatsApp that the boy was being forced to chant ‘jai shri Ram’ by the assaulters. Soon the crowds gathered and a clash erupted.
The stonepelters also allegedly targeted Sanjiv’s house that is located right at the corner of Gali Chabuk Sawar. His wife Babita, who claimed to have been slightly injured in the attack, said all they wanted was their safety.
Former Delhi minister Haroon Yusuf, who represented the Ballimaran Assembly segment for four consecutive terms since 1993, condemned the incident and said that what has happened was against the true culture of the area as both the communities have peacefully lived together for very long time.
Yusuf also blamed the local MLA Imran Hussain for the turn of events, saying that it was a result of anti-social elements being encouraged and patronised by the local leaders for their political gains.