Every Friday in Basai Darapur, namaz would be held in the open since West Delhi’s Jama Masjid mosque was being reconstructed. This Friday, though, prayers were offered inside the crumbling walls, amid heavy police deployment.
The neighbourhood has been tense ever since a 51-year-old man was murdered, allegedly by a man and his three sons, after he objected to them passing lewd comments at his daughter. The victim’s son, who was also stabbed, has been hospitalised.
On Thursday, a mahapanchayat for members of the Tyagi community saw tempers flare, as participants called for the ouster of Muslims from the area and their “social boycott”.
“We prayed for the victim and his family. We divided the namaz into two shifts as everyone could not be accommodated inside the mosque,” said Mujahid Ali, vice-president of the masjid committee.
Police have nabbed all four accused, including two juveniles, and charged them under sections of murder and outraging the modesty of a woman. The wife and daughter of the main accused have also been arrested under IPC section 34 (common intention). The family hails from Bihar.
Waiting for his shift to end, a police officer stationed outside the mosque said: “Senior officers have been visiting the area every few hours to take stock. Rumours are difficult to contain.”
One such rumour was that the victim’s son had also died. Babu (41), a property dealer, said his son and the victim’s son grew up together. “We heard rumours about his death through the night,” he said.
In the wake of the mahapanchayat, some Muslim families have fled the neighbourhood. While the victim’s family has made efforts to stop the incident from taking a communal turn, they admitted that the meeting had added fuel to the fire. “We never invited those people who made hate speeches. I have spoken to my Muslim brothers and we will organise a meeting with them to bring back peace,” said the businessman’s brother.
Once namaz had ended, the general secretary of the masjid committee, Irfan Salmani, told those who had turned up: “We must remove our skull caps when we move on the main road. There is no shame in that.”
Most nodded in approval, but some thought otherwise. Nibras, an MNC employee, said, “Why should we as a community suffer for the actions of one man?”