Updated: April 25, 2022 9:41:22 am
A week after communal clashes broke out in Northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, residents held a ‘Tiranga Yatra’ on Sunday evening in a show of solidarity between communities. While personnel remained deployed in the area, police removed many of the barricades and scaled down security arrangements during the day.
On April 16, violence broke out following a Hanuman Jayanti procession and several persons, including eight police personnel, were injured during stone pelting and firing. Three days later, the North MCD razed several structures, including the exterior gate of a mosque, in an anti-encroachment demolition drive.
The ‘yatra’ was planned three days ago by RWA members and social workers in the area. On Sunday, Tricolour in hand, residents shouted slogans such as ‘Hindu Musalman Bhai Bhai’, ‘Hindustan Zindabad’, ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bhaichara Zinda Rahe’ as they walked from Kushal Cinema towards C block where parts of nearly a dozen shops were torn down on Wednesday. They appealed for peace and harmony and said this was the first step towards “normalcy” in the area.
Ishrar Khan, who sells mobile phones and accessories, said, “Part of my shop was razed
during the drive. I was hurt as many people were calling us Bangladeshis and my neighbours called me pattharbaaz. Today is different, I stepped out and everyone hugged me. We may not talk everyday but we marched together. I feel we are all brothers and should make amends. I went home after the yatra for Roza. I hope the situation gets better and we celebrate Eid…”
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Walking near Ishrar, businessman Indramani Tiwari (40) said, “We want our lives to go back to normal. We never thought this would happen. I spoke to my Muslim brothers, I will help them and support them. We feel this won’t happen in the future. This is a call for aman and shanti in the area.”
As the group marched below, locals showered rose petals from their terraces.
Kader Khan (60), who sells chicken in the area, put flags on his shop and sent his grandchildren to the ‘yatra’. “We are not on talking terms with them (Hindu neighbours) at present but that doesn’t mean we hate each other. We are ready to move on. Things will get better soon. My children and grandchildren stepped out of the house after days. We feel better already. There’s peace in the area.”
Advocate Avat Naryan (45), another local, said he witnessed the riots and now hopes for peace: “We saw many of our friends get injured during the clashes. When our pandit told us about the ‘yatra’, we were sceptical but agreed to be a part of it. Everyone joined today. I hope everything gets back to normal and the police remove all barricades soon.”
Raman Jha, whose paan shop was demolished during the encroachment drive, said, “I wish this march was done earlier. I lost my shop and have no work now. It’s difficult. We should now work on maintaining peace in the area and helping the victims.”
On Sunday, many locals reopened their shops and started business again. The ‘yatra’ started around 6 pm and ended after 30-40 minutes. Police, along with religious leaders, then made announcements asking people to return home.
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DCP (Northwest) Usha Rangnani said, “Locals from both communities had planned this yatra. We supported them and deployed adequate staff who marched along with them. It was successful.”
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