It took a message, sent by a volunteer from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), for 500 people to reach Noorani Masjid at outer Delhi’s Nangloi on Bakrid, alleging that a cow had been slaughtered on the premises.
Despite assurances by police that no such thing had happened, the rumour spread quickly and soon a crowd gathered outside the waste disposal site where animal carcasses are dumped. A man transporting carcasses was stopped as people made videos, some calling him a cow slaughterer.
Police stationed at the masjid, meanwhile, sought to placate the crowd, so the festival would not be disrupted.
“In Delhi, slaughter of cows is prohibited. Our men were stationed at the mosque and if anything illegal would have taken place, we would have acted ,” said DCP (Outer) Seju P Kuruvilla.
Despite police assurances, the group shouted slogans and pelted stones towards the 30-year-old mosque.
The VHP Zila Mantri (Nihal Vihar), Onkar Prasad Bhardwaj, said, “A mosque is a place of worship and not a slaughterhouse. We were just making sure no illegal activities were taking place. A volunteer stationed at the mosque site for security maintenance on Bakrid tipped us off and we mobilised. But the crowd which came later got out of control. We are cooperating with police and want peace in the area.”
As a contingent of Delhi Police intervened, the mob dispersed, only to return in larger numbers, until reinforcements – 200 personnel, some in anti-riot gear — from around 10 police stations arrived. The short advances and retreats by the crowd lasted around five hours, before the police managed to pacify them.
“It took us time to disperse the crowd. We spoke to several VHP members leading the men and reasoned with them. A driver carrying carcasses was detained and a case under IPC section 429 (mischief by killing or maiming cattle) and section 12, 13 of the Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 1994, has been registered,” said Kuruvilla.
Police seized over 2 kg of carcasses and sent them for forensic examination. A counter-complaint was sent by the mosque’s committee members, requesting action against the crowd and better security.
Amid the tension, the hundred-odd families in Nihal Vihar spent Bakrid locked up inside their homes, with the 10-odd shops shut.
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