Almost a week since a spate of violence erupted in northeast Delhi on 23 February, the toll rose to 42 on Friday and first-hand accounts of the horrific scenes in riot-hit areas emerged. Authorities like Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and National Commission for Women chief Rekha Sharma visited the violence-affected areas while Delhi Police undertook confidence-building measures.
Baijal was accompanied by senior police officers. This is the first time Baijal, who is the Centre's representative in the state, visited the areas after violence broke out.
Among the areas worst affected in the violence are Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Chand Bagh, Khureji Khas and Bhajanpura.
Meanwhile, the NCW chief said that the situation was peaceful but there was "tension in the air" after she visited Jaffrabad to take stock of the condition of women. Sharma said that she will be going back to the area again on Saturday because she could not meet enough women as the police were busy in giving security for Friday prayers.
"We met a few women but the way we wanted to meet them could not happen. The situation was peaceful but thre was tension in the air," Sharma told PTI. She also said that she has gone through through the data provided by the police and it showed three women were injured but it wasn't direct injuries. "No rape or molestation was recorded by the police," Sharma informed.
Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal interacts with some locals in Maujpur area in #NortheastDelhi. He says, "I have come here to see myself how things are on ground". #DelhiViolence pic.twitter.com/RQ3KSDrPia
— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2020
Victims of Delhi violence recount tales of horror
While Sharma noted that no cases of rape or molestation were recorded by the Delhi Police, a 45-year-old woman at the Al-Hind hospital in northeast Delhi told PTI that she and her daughters were forced to flee their home after a mob allegedly barged in and molested them.
"We jumped from the first floor with dupattas wrapped around our bodies to save ourselves," she said, according to PTI.
The nightmare on Wednesday night ended only after the women entered a Muslim-dominated lane. "I was at home when a mob barged in. I and my two daughters were molested and our clothes were torn by the mob," the woman who runs an NGO in Karawal Nagar, said with tears in her eyes.
She said the mob chased them but stopped and eventually disappeared after they sought refuge in the house of Ayub Ahmed, a grocery shop owner known to them. "When we reached Ahmed's house, he gave us food and other necessary things and later brought us to the Al-Hind Hospital. I can identify the miscreants as they were from our lane," she added.
Ahmed said the women have been left traumatised by the incident.
The woman is one of the many who have been brought to the Al-Hind Hospital over the past few days after being attacked by armed mobs in violence-hit northeast Delhi. Each has a horrific tale to tell.
Salman Khan (20), a resident of Karawal Nagar, said he was near his house on Tuesday night when a mob poured a chemical on his back that caused his skin to burn. "Some unidentified people caught me near my house and poured an acid-like liquid on my back. I have no idea what the substance was. It was very hot and my skin started burning as soon as they poured it on me," he said.
He said he was brought to the hospital by the police around 11 pm.
Akil Saifi (30), who works with a private company, said he was thrashed by some people in Gokulpuri, which was among the areas worst-hit by the violence. "When I was returning home from office on Tuesday around 8.30 pm, some unidentified people stopped my motorcycle and started beating me as they saw skull cap on the head of my friend who was riding pillion. His name is Bilal and he is handicapped," he said.
"The fingers of my left hand were fractured and Bilal sustained minor injuries," he added.
Mehraj, a doctor at the Al-Hind Hospital, said injured people who were in serious condition were referred to government hospitals. "We referred four to five people to government hospitals as their condition was very bad. Two people died in our hospital and we are treating others," he added.
ANI reported that the shops of Ashok Sharma and Shahrukh Saifi, residents of northeast Delhi's Shiv Vihar were burnt down during the violence. Sharma was quoted as saying, "(I) suffered a loss of Rs 1 crore. I've lived here for 35 years but never saw anything like this." Saifi added, "They also hurled petrol bombs and burnt down my car."
Two brothers from Ghaziabad, 25-year-old Aamir and 16-year-old Hashim were found dead amid the mob violence in riot-hit Gokulpuri after they stepped out on Wednesday to visit relatives in the northeast Delhi area. On Thursday, their family rushed to GTB hospital and identified their bodies.
In Delhi's Kajuri Khas, 85-year-old Akbari's dream of seeing her yet-to-be-born grandchild was cut short by a rampaging mob that set her house in the Gamri village near Delhi's Khajuri Khas on fire, suffocating her to death. One of her seven children Salmani, an exporter of ready made garments, said that he had gone out to get milk on Tuesday.
"While returning, I got a call from my son that a mob has surrounded our home with petrol bombs and sticks in hands. My mother, wife and three kids were on the second floor. I told them over phone to rush to the terrace," he said.
According to locals, the mob set the ground floor, which served as a godown, ablaze and threw petrol bombs at the second and third floor.
"Ten of my labourers were on the ground floor at the time of the incident. They too rushed to the terrace. My son later noticed that my mother was missing and he tried to get down. But by then, the whole house was full of smoke. By the time they climbed down the terrace, she had passed away," Salmani said.
A Hindu family in Gokalpuri has been rendered homeless as they became victim of a mob fury targeted at some Muslim shops in their residential building. The family of six, who are now forced to spend their days roaming in the streets and nights at a neighbour's house, had a harrowing experience on Tuesday as the three shops, owned by Muslims who don't reside in the building, on the ground floor of the two-storey structure were set on fire.
SN Shrivastava to take over as Delhi Police commissioner
Senior IPS officer SN Shrivastava, recently appointed as a Special Commissioner (Law and Order) of the Delhi Police will be the next Delhi police commissioner, MHA said on Friday. He is scheduled to take over from Amulya Patnaik on Sunday, PTI reported.
Meanwhile on Friday, police and paramilitary personnel maintained strict vigil in the affected areas in view of Friday prayers at mosques. Police officers said they were also making extra efforts to quell rumours, and are holding regular flag marches and interactions in the neighbourhoods of affected areas as confidence-building measures.
Officials also initiated an "outreach programme", as part of which personnel met imams and maulvis of various mosques in the riot-hit northeast Delhi.
In some areas of northeast Delhi, signs of normal life were witnessed with opening of shops. In violence-hit areas also, shops in streets and bylanes were open.
Nearly 7,000 paramilitary forces have been deployed in the affected areas of the northeast district since Monday. Besides, hundreds of Delhi police personnel are on the ground to maintain peace and prevent any untoward incident.
Forensic teams also visited the violence-affected areas on Friday and also collected evidence from the factory of suspended AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, who is alleged to have been involved in the killing of IB staffer Ankit Sharma. The teams also inspected the spot in Chand Bagh where Sharma's body was found on Wednesday.
Delhi HC asks for reply on plea seeking probe under UAPA
The Delhi High Court on Friday sought a reply from the Centre and the Delhi government on a plea seeking a probe into the riots under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to investigate those responsible for the violence. A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Delhi government and Ministry of Home Affairs on the plea.
The court has posted the matter for hearing on 30 April.
The court was also hearing a plea seeking security for the exam centres of the CBSE board exams in northeast Delhi. The bench asked the AAP government and the police to respond to the plea.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher asked them to ensure security is not breached in board exam centres in violence-hit northeast Delhi. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) told the high court that it was optimistic about holding Board exams in the northeast Delhi centres from 2 March.
The court had on Wednesday taken note of the "worsening situation" in the area and had directed the CBSE to come up with a plan to re-schedule them or change the affected centres. Two sets of exams have been postponed this week in light of the violence.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Feb 28, 2020 19:52:29 IST