Around 9 am Thursday, as preparations for a mahapanchayat by the Tyagi community at Delhi’s Basai Dara Pur were in progress, Riyaz Ahmed (32) packed his four nieces visiting from Bhopal – aged three, five, 12 and 14 – into a car and sent them to a relative’s in Uttam Nagar.
Ahmed’s was one of the several Muslim families that have fled from Basai Dara Pur days after a 51-year-old businessman was stabbed to death early Sunday morning, allegedly by a man and his three sons. With the accused from the minority community, the incident has ignited communal tension in the area, culminating in Thursday’s mahapanchayat.
Ahmed, incidentally, had intervened and tried to save the victim and his son when they were being attacked. The victim’s son is currently hospitalised. The violence had broken out after the victim objected to one of the accused allegedly passing a lewd comment at his daughter.
“I intervened and helped the family, but today I’m the one fleeing out of fear. My nieces are here for summer holidays and I fear for their safety. Till yesterday, I was Riyaz; today I am just a Muslim,” said Ahmed, a real-estate agent.
When The Indian Express visited Ahmed’s house – a few metres away from the victim’s – it was locked, and a neighbour said: “They left early morning, we don’t know when they will be back.” Apart from Ahmed, three other Muslim families The Indian Express spoke to said they were temporarily moving base.
Businessman Mohd Akram (40), who has been living on rent at Basai Dara Pur for 25 years, said, “We heard slogans such as ‘Musalmaan Basai chhodo’ and at 6 am Thursday, I asked my family to leave for a friend’s house in Ramesh Nagar. My children are teenagers and I fear for them. We will be back when things cool down.” He said that so far, the landlord hasn’t asked them to evict the house.
Property dealer Sohail Salmani (45), who lives near the mosque in Basai Dara Pur, too moved to his in-law’s home in Uttam Nagar with his wife and three children on Thursday morning. “We want the guilty to be punished but because of their fault, an entire community can’t be punished,” he said.
A 55-year-old tuition teacher from the minority community, who did not wish to be named, claimed a resident of the area had flung his skull cap when he was standing at a paan shop Monday night. “When I found out about the mahapanchayat, I left at 7 am on Thursday with my family of 10,” he claimed.
Around 2 pm at ‘Tyagi Dharamshala’, a community hall in Basai Dara Pur, the mahapanchayat saw hundreds of men from Delhi-NCR demanding justice for the victim, “eviction of Muslims from the village”, and “their social and financial boycott”. The men blocked the road from Moti Nagar Metro station to Ramesh Nagar Metro station in the afternoon, and when the victim’s nephews and cousin pleaded for peace, the group told them they were “cowards”.
The victim’s cousin said, “If a Muslim killed my brother, another saved my nephew’s life. We condemn this communalisation and don’t want anything to happen to the Muslims in Basai. When we tried to pacify the angry crowd, they told us to get lost.”
When contacted, DCP (West) Monika Bhardwaj said: “Local police are patrolling the area day and night. We are available to everyone and will hold a meeting with the minority community in a day or two to assure them that they are safe here. My understanding is that locals of Basai Dara Pur themselves don’t want the minority community to leave; they don’t want any strife.”