Muharram is likely to be celebrated in an atmosphere of tension, following the recent communal clashes in the capital. People in affected areas like Trilokpuri remain fearful about the festival, especially the taziya procession, despite police efforts to raise security.
Incidents of communal bickering in Nand Nagri and Bawana in the past one week have also fanned fears, especially among Muslims.
Even though Delhi will be on high alert on Tuesday with over 12 companies, including paramilitary forces, deployed in “sensitive areas”, many Muslims feel this Muharram will be “different”.
“This year Muharram will not be the same. Even though the police have assured us that they have beefed up security in the area, people are scared to participate in processions,” said Shameem Ahmed, a resident of block 27 in Trilokpuri.
“Many of us have decided to stay indoors because we are scared of violence breaking out any moment. If people get caught in a crossfire, they fear they will be picked up and put behind bars.”
Another resident said the whole purpose of observing Muharram has been defeated as the police have diverted routes that the taziya would take earlier. “This Muharram is very different. They have limited the time period for us to take out processions. Self-whipping, which expresses our mourning, will not be observed this year as it may spark tension,” he said.
However, city police chief B S Bassi said “we are keeping tight vigil. In sensitive areas, officials have also contacted local Aman Committees to ensure that Muharram passes well.”
The police said security arrangements for all the sensitive areas have been revised with extra patrolling in place. The police have also made standby arrangements to deal with any emergency situation. “We have held meetings with locals to reassure them that all possible security measures have been taken,” said a senior police officer.
Rooftop deployment of police along routes where the taziya will pass have also been put in place. Apart from the possible flashpoints, such as South Delhi’s Karbala area where more than six companies have been deployed, heavy deployment has been made in Trilokpuri and Bawana as well.