For over 24 hours, the Delhi Police struggled to bring back normalcy to Trilokpuri as clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs continued into Saturday night and even spread to neighbouring areas. Newsline pieces together the sequence of events that started on Saturday morning.
11 AM TO NOON
Stone-pelting begins afresh at several places. The worst is in Blocks 15, 21 and 27. Stones, bricks and bottles are hurled by different groups. Tear gas shells are fired and police lathicharge the mob in many places.
NOON TO 1 PM
Police get a modicum of control over the main road that leads to Vasundhara Enclave. They are now faced with the problem of violence spreading to the bylanes. Groups armed with bricks, hockey sticks and cricket bats take to the streets. Some are even carrying knives. A police officer said, “Its hard for our forces to get into the bylanes. People escape into their homes when we approach.”
1 PM TO 2 PM
The RAF, CRPF and personnel of the Delhi Police begin to bring the situation under control, one block at a time. A convoy of 10 PCR vans move from one block to the next, with personnel alighting and entering the bylanes.
2 PM TO 3 PM
Police start detaining residents who they believe participated in stone-pelting. Some residents lock their doors to prevent the personnel from entering, but to no avail. Some are dragged away and assaulted by policemen when they protest. A resident said, “There is no way that police could identify our children. They were not part of the violence and are being picked up arbitrarily.”
3 PM TO 4 PM
Violence has largely stopped, except in some isolated pockets. The main road is cleared, and personnel allow shops to open for the first time in the day. Some sense of normalcy is restored.
4 PM TO 5 PM
Many Muslims families, which constitute only 20 per cent of the population in the area, begin packing their bags and leaving the locality for a few days. Taxis pull up in front of houses and women and children are sent away, in anticipation of another night of trouble. Firoz Ali said, “The police are targeting our youth and detaining them. We are outnumbered and in case there is violence, our women and children will not be safe.”
5 PM TO 6 PM
Before the light begins to fade, people throng the markets and shops selling household goods. Trilokpuri seems to be at its busiest in the day and police allow free movement of traffic and people.
6 PM TO 7 PM
As darkness falls, men stand in small groups outside their homes. Many pick up stones from the road and carry them inside houses. When asked why they were doing so, they say they mean no harm, but were collecting them only “for safety”. A senior police officer said, “The situation is still tense. We prevented some from collecting stones, but not everyone can be stopped. Stones and bricks litter the whole area.”
7 PM TO 8 PM
At 7 pm, Section 144 is imposed and police begin doing the rounds of Trilokpuri, sending people home. Police warn, “If you are caught outside your house, you will be arrested. This is for your safety.”
8 PM TO 9 PM
Three persons who sustained bullet injuries in the riots are referred to GTB Hospital. One of them is critical. The three were injured in the morning and were initially taken to Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital.
9 PM TO 10 PM
Many daily wage labourers return home to find Trilokpuri shut down. They struggle to find food and other supplies as shops are all closed. Hansraj, a rickshaw puller, said, “Police stopped us from entering the colony. Every day, we return and eat at dhabas in the colony. Today, all of them are shut.”
10 PM TO 11 PM
To prevent another flare-up during the night, police hold meetings with local leaders from both sides and ask them to keep the peace.