Parking Fight Escalates to Communal Tension in Old Delhi

    Image Credit : Indian Express

    More than 1,000 police and paramilitary personnel armed with anti-riot gear were deployed, and all shops there were shut, resembling a militarised zone, the Hindustan Times reported. Groups of Hindu and Muslim residents stated reasons for violence was the ‘other’ and accused each other of stone pelting and violence on Sunday night. Security was increased on Monday in Old Delhi’s Chawri Bazar area after a mob vandalised a temple.

    The police asked residents to stay indoors till the situation came to a control. Aas Mohammad and Sanjeev Kumar Gupta, the two men involved in the parking row, along with a photojournalist from a Hindi daily who was clicking pictures at the spot the incident took place sustained injuries, police said.

    The narrow lanes of the Chowri Bazaar resembled a militarised zone due to heavy security with more than 1,000 Delhi Police and paramilitary personnel armed with anti-riot gear deployed through the day on Monday. Police barricades were put on the main road at Lal Kuan which is a popular market of hardware goods in central Delhi. All the shops were shut, and residents were asked to remain indoors until the situation was brought under control.

    On Sunday night, the tensions began in the area when 20-year-old Aas Mohammed was parking his scooter outside a building which was objected by other resident Sanjeev Gupta.

    According to Gupta’s wife, Babita, Aas Mohammed abused him and threatened him when he was objected to park his scooter. “Mohammad left saying he would return to teach my husband a lesson. A few minutes later, 20-25 men carrying sticks barged into our first floor house and began thrashing him. When my three children and I intervened, they assaulted us as well. They did not spare my 80-year-old mother-in-law who is a heart patient,” said Babita.

    However, according to Mohammad’s neighbour, Irshad Ali, Gupta’s family members and some other residents thrashed Mohammad and fractured his hand despite him telling them that he would remove his scooter within 10 minutes. “Some people from our area went to intervene when they learnt about the fight. The issue was resolved at the police station itself. But vandalism of the temple by some outsiders triggered the communal tension. We want this issue to end at the earliest,” said Ali, who is a member of the area’s Residents’ Welfare Association.

    Mohammad Sadiq, a software engineer living in the neighbourhood, said: “There was a commotion in the area around midnight, which was largely caused by rumours. The attackers were certainly not from our locality.”

    While the residents offered different versions of the mob attack on the temple, the police called for calm through social media. According to police, three cases were filed – one based on Mohammad’s statement, another on Gupta’s statement, and the third against unknown persons for rioting and damaging public property.

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