Massive police presence was seen in the Noor-e-Ilahi area of northeast Delhi’s Ghonda on Monday after parts of a cow’s carcass were found outside a shop Sunday night, fueling communal tension. The Delhi police maintained strict vigil, with personnel deployed inside shops and on the streets in this mostly Muslim neighbourhood.
Although shops remained open, the Noor Chicken outlet, outside which the carcass was found, remained closed.
According to eyewitnesses, the incident of the dead cow was reported a little after 10 pm when unidentified men dumped the carcass and fled.
“It was the usual Sunday market and many residents were out. Suddenly, two men came on a battery rickshaw and dumped something outside the shop before fleeing. Within minutes, men who seemed to be outsiders came from nowhere and pointed to the carcass. They began shouting slogans and soon there was a scuff”e,” said Ram Solanki, a resident of Noor-e-Ilahi.
Solanki runs a garments shop and was returning home when the incident took place. He said he was unable to recollect how the men looked but recalled they came on motorcycles.
However, senior police officers who were present at the spot on Sunday and Monday claimed otherwise. “The area is close to a garbage dump and meat shop owners in the area have hired special rickshaws to dispose of meat waste there. It appears that the carcass fell off while someone was on his way to dump the waste. Prima facie, it does not appear to be a deliberate act,” a senior police officer said.
Tasleem, the owner of Noor Chicken, told Newsline: “I was returning home when I saw a crowd gathered outside my shop. I saw a carcass lying outside and it was then that I saw the men who appeared to be outsiders create a ruckus and enter into a scuffle. A call was made and police arrived within 15 minutes.”
Reportedly, the police told residents to stay inside their homes. A few residents moved out to neighbouring areas, fearing for the safety of their women and children.
Sources said a Muslim wedding was on in the area and was stopped by police. “The baraat had arrived but within 15 minutes, the wedding was stopped and guests asked to leave the community centre,” said a witness.
Police sources said that after the Trilokpuri riots and communal tension in Bawana in the past few weeks, the police have increased their mobilisation. “We have been able to contain further rioting. Our resource mobilisation is now faster,” said the officer.
The area of Ghonda, which lies in the Babarpur constituency, houses a large Gujjar population while Muslims are in a minority. But the Noor-e-Ilahi area is predominantly Muslim.
DCP (northeast) RA Sanjeev said, “We have registered a case. The situation is now under control and the area is calm.”