A scuffle broke out at midnight between two men on Sunday, June 30, on the issue of parking. One was a Hindu and the other Muslim. The Muslim man got injured too in the scuffle. But, the two of them have compromised and have no issues with each other.
“Initially both of us didn’t go to the police station. Once the police came, both of us were taken to the station and the hospital for medical tests on Monday morning. And the two of us then sorted out the issue by afternoon itself on Monday. Several such scuffles break out here and it is not new. We wanted to solve this. It effects the business here. But the matter has been made worse by those who have come from outside,” said Sanjeev Gupta, who was one of the men with who the scuffle broke out.
But, this incident now has been made out to be a temple issue, when it wasn’t. The temple that the locals state has been vandalised is in a narrow L-shaped lane with idols in glass cases and is not close to the main road.
After the scuffle broke out, several people who were sloganeering threw stones into the lane, and a couple of glass cases did get cracked. “But the stones thrown by the protestors could not have reached the idols as it is at least 150 mt from the main street. Bajrang Dal activists came and vandalised it later to make it about the desecration of a temple,” alleged a young man who did not want to be identified.
The people who have been protesting about vandalism of the temple are mostly people are not local residents and have come from far. “This is a matter of the Hindu ‘dharam’. It is a matter in which all Hindu organisations should have a say. The glass cases have been vandalised, so we will come from all over the country. A young boy called Keshav from the temple has gone missing and no one has found him yet,” said Lokesh Kumar, who has a tent business in Lakshmi Nagar. He claimed that his house was in Kodia Pul, which is near Old Delhi Railway Station.
Agreeing with the Hindu sentiment was Renu Rastogi. “It doesn’t matter where I have come from. I am a Hindu and I will be here. I have been searching for the so-called victim. The only victim is a Hindu person. I am against the ‘tukde-tukde’gang. I am with Hindus and the temple is a major issue,” said Rastogi, also screaming into this journalist’s ears.
In contrast, almost all locals wanted peace. A sardarji, who sells kitchen appliances, said, “We have been running our businesses here for more than 30 years. Everyday, there is a scuffle, but it never escalates. Our business is getting affected. This is a street which you cant walk without bumping into people, and now it’s only protestors from both sides.” He did not want to be named.
“Everyone wants peace. We are willing to sit down and talk but the Hindus on the other side of the barricade are being egged on by Hindutva elements. There are mostly Bajrang Dal activists who are sloganeering. Such small fights are common. This has been given a political and religious colour eyeing elections,” highlights Jahanzeb Choudhary, who was one of those holding placards of peace.
A local resident and advocate, Yousif Naqvi, said, “The police are not asking the people crowding on the other side to leave. They are mostly Bajrang Dal activists. The police have arrested at least eight Muslim boys. No one from that side is willing to even talk. We are willing to.”
Vishal, who wearing a red cap, was one of the more aggressive protesters. While refusing to answer where he was from, he insisted that this was the matter of all Hindus and Hinduism. “If a temple anywhere gets attacked, we will be there. We will come from any part of the country to save the temple. It is not a local matter. It is an issue of all Hindus and everyone will come,” screeched Vishal.
The police barged into the homes of several men without any warrants in the early hours of the morning. Into a house in Katra Dina Beg, Lal Kuan, a policeman climbed the gate using a ladder and dropped into the house. “The police then opened the door to let in the other officers. All the while we were still sleeping. It was 4.30 am. They barged into our rooms. They went upstairs, picked up Zubair, who was sleeping. No reason was given to us,” said Ruksana, Zubair’s mother.
“We were sleeping. How can the police do this? My husband has been running around since morning to find out where he has been taken. Eventually by 3 pm, he was asked to go to Tis Hazari court. And now we have heard that Zubair is in judicial custody,” adds Ruksana. Zubair worked in a nearby automobile shop.
“They will only take the children of the poor and of Muslims. What has Zubair done? He wasn’t a part of the protestors. What can we do if the police, who is supposed to protect us do this to us? Where is the sense of right and wrong? We have been living here for years and we have to live with each other. The only people who suffer are the poor. Where is the MLA?”asks Ruksana.
The area comes under Ballimaran Assembly constituency where Imran Hussain of Aam Aadmi Party is the local MLA.