At least 10 people were reportedly injured when violence erupted at Khajuri Khas in northeast Delhi on Friday afternoon, hours after residents intercepted a truck which was allegedly transporting cattle hide.
Police maintained that the incident was “not a clash between two communities”.
But Delhi Law Minister and AAP MLA from Karawal Nagar Kapil Mishra alleged that “right-wing activists” were behind the violence while some of the injured victims claimed that Muslims had been selectively targeted.
At 3 am on Friday, the Khajuri Khas police received a call about a truck which was allegedly transporting cattle hide. Police officials were dispatched to the area to investigate the matter, the truck driver was arrested and the municipal corporation was asked to analyse the hide, said Deputy Commissioner of Police, northeast, Venu Bansal.
An official of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation confirmed that a team from the veterinary department is testing the animal hide seized from the truck. Bansal added that though the police was investigating the matter, certain “anti-social” elements had triggered the situation.
“After receiving information about the animal skin being transported, legal proceedings had been started, including verification and medical examination of the skin. But some people gathered in the area and started blocking the movement of traffic at Khajuri Khas Chowk. Some anti-social elements tried to cause disruptions and also burnt two motorbikes parked there,” he said. Police were trying to identify these “anti-social elements”, said Bansal.
After the truck was seized and brought to the police station, people gathered outside the station and demanded an investigation, police said.
Soon, the crowd outside the police station swelled and moved towards the Khajuri Khas Chowk, where they blocked traffic, attacked people and set vehicles ablaze for almost 45 minutes, said the police.
Izhaar Ahmed (19), a resident, suffered multiple in juries on his back and fractured his skull in the violence. “A group of men saw me at the chowk and attacked me. They were from outside the area. They singled me out as a Muslim because of my beard and cap. They hit me on the head with sticks. They let go of me only after the police arrived,” said Ahmed.
Mohammad Irfaan, an autorickshaw driver who was at the busy chowk when the violence broke out, claimed that he may have got away as he is clean-shaven. “They came running towards me and started beating on the windshield of my auto. I ran away. Perhaps they let me go because I was clean-shaven, but they damaged the auto completely,” he said.
“The reason behind the incident is not yet known. Till now, we are not sure if a cow was slaughtered or if some cattle hide was being transported. With such rumours doing the rounds, a group of right-wing activists started protesting and they set some vehicles ablaze. I have heard that some Muslim residents were also beaten up by them,” said MLA Mishra.
He added that those behind the violence were “outsiders”. “None of these protesters are from the area. This is an attempt by outsiders to disrupt communal harmony,” said Mishra.
The police have lodged two FIRs, including one in the case of alleged smuggling of cattle hide, under sections 295A (malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings) and 429 (mischief by killing or maiming cattle) of the IPC. The second FIR has been lodged under sections 147, 148 (rioting) 186C (obstructing public servant in discharge of duty) and 332, 333 (voluntarily causing hurt).
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