The land in Nai Basti area that is at the heart of the argument that sparked the clashes on Sunday is actually a divide — on one side was the Hindu locality and on the other the Muslim neighbourhood. The land itself was neutral — there were no graves, no temples — just a few trees and plenty of buffaloes. On Monday, however, the buffaloes had police for company. Local residents that The Indian Express spoke to said there were no clashes over the land before.
According the government, the area is a kabristan. “But we never buried anyone here,” said Mohammed Waseem, a local resident in his 30s. “We used to bury the dead elsewhere. Till then some people used to tie their animals to the trees here.”
“No one ever raised any issue and we were also not aware that land was a kabristan,” said Mahendra Singh, another local resident. However, someone did raise the issue. It claimed the life of a vegetable vendor, Ram Narayan Yadav, who is now survived by wife Bhuli Devi and four children.
“My father was lone earning member of the family. We have four buffalos which we used to keep them at the plot where the firing took place yesterday,” said Preeti Yadav, 19. “He had gone there to look at what was happening when the lekpal came.”
In the police inquiry that followed, clouds of fear started hanging around the Muslim locality. “The police conducted searches in our locality and questioned several people. Fearful of being implicated in the case, several youths fled to other places, hoping to return when calm too returns,” said resident Mohammad Ashraf.