A saffron flag inscribed with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ fluttered on top of a minaret and a Tricolour lay mangled a step below. On Tuesday, rioters had desecrated the mosque and set it on fire, and torched and looted at least four homes underneath. Videos of men climbing the minaret had been circulated through Tuesday.
This was one of two mosques, a kilometre apart, targeted inside Ashok Nagar, between noon and 3 pm. Two kilometres away in Brijpuri, another mosque was desecrated by rioters and torched.
Eyewitnesses told The Indian Express Wednesday that a mob trooped into the neighbourhood around 12 pm Tuesday. “First they pelted the mosque with stones and then broke open its gates, climbed up the minarets and planted the flags. Then they torched the building. Fortunately, residents staying in and around the mosque were evacuated,” said N K Sharma, an elderly local.
The rioters also targeted a three-storey residential property located on the other side of the lane facing the mosque, and torched eight shops.
Locals maintained they could not recognise the rioters, “who were all outsiders”.
After the first round of attack around mid-noon, police had evacuated Muslim residents of the neighbourhood. “We were taken to the police station when the mosque was attacked. In the evening, the mob came back and looted all our valuables, including jewellery. My daughter’s certificates, including her admit card, have been burnt,” said Parveena, a resident.
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Mohammad Rashid, her husband, said the premises from which the mosque was operating was on rent. Inside, the rooms were charred, even as smoke continued to billow out of the ashes. Beds, mattresses, ceiling fans and buckets, lay scattered, half-burnt.
In Ashok Nagar’s E Block, the mob attacked another mosque around 3 pm Tuesday. Two meat shops, owned by Akbar Qureshi, were also ransacked.
A few kilometres away in Brijpuri, armed men torched a mosque and a madarssa Tuesday evening.
A few blocks away, a school was torched. As per eyewitnesses who were inside Farooqia masjid offering evening namaz, a group of armed men broke the doors of the mosque and assaulted those inside.
Mohammad Masjid, an eyewitness, said, “They were wearing helmets and we could not see their faces. They hurled petrol bombs.” The mosque is next to the Mustafabad anti-CAA protest site, which was also torched.
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