India…wtf?

25 Feb
Day 3 of Attacks on Muslims in North East Delhi
The Wire’s reporters on Tuesday travelled the breadth of north east Delhi, reporting on, assessing and offering searing pictures of the charged and targeted communal violence in the region. 

So far, 10 people have reportedly died and more than 150 have been injured. From chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ to mosques being set on fire in a cruel reprise of 1992, to gross police inaction, the following stories reflect the extent of damage already done.

Arson Continues in Khajuri Khas, Biryani Shop Targeted
At a chowk underneath the highway in North East Delhi’s Khajuri Khas, a mob shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ set buildings on fire on Tuesday afternoon, including a biryani shop. There was fire on either side of the highway.

Large groups of men wielding sticks were patrolling the streets, repeating the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan again and again. Right next to them were large groups of Delhi policemen – not stopping the violent mob, but offering them water to drink.

While The Wire‘s reporters were able to shoot videos of the buildings being set on fire, they were threatened, their phones snatched and the footage and photographs deleted. “Tum toh humaare Hindu bhai ho, yeh sab kyun kar rahe ho? (You are our Hindu brother, why are you doing all this?)” one of the men told a reporter while deleting footage from his phone.

‘We Burnt the Mazar Down’: Hindutva Men Talk About the Violence They Unleashed
The Wire’s Srishti Srivastava met with a pro-government Hindutva mob and spoke to them about the violence and their modus operandi.

They agreed to talk “if the camera is not focused on our (their) face”.
When asked who set fire to a mausoleum on Monday, an activist said,
“We can even give you the names of those who did; we know them very well. Okay, we will not tell you. We have burnt it (the mausoleum); we all have burnt it. Keep the camera down. Not one person has burnt (it); we all have.”

Mosque Set on Fire in Ashok Vihar, Hanuman Flag Placed on Top
A mosque in Ashok Vihar was set on fire late on Tuesday afternoon, reports Naomi Barton. A mob shouting “Jai Shri Ram” and “Hinduon ka Hindustan” paraded around the burning mosque, and a Hanuman flag was placed on top of the structure.

Shops within and around the masjid’s compound, including a footwear shop, were being looted. Locals said that the looters are not residents of the area, which is predominantly Hindu but has few Muslim families. Though there were a few firefighters present at the site, police could not be seen.

14-Year-Old Boy Shot at in Kardam Puri, No Ambulance ‘Allowed to Reach’ Spot
Six hours after a 14-year-old Muslim boy was allegedly shot at by pro-government Hindutva activists in the Kardam Puri locality of Shahdara, no ambulance had reached him, report Naomi Barton and Avichal Dubey.

The Wire’s reporters found him slumped on his stomach, with locals attempting to offer relief with preliminary care.
The boy, identified as Faizan, had not been a part of protests or clashes but had been in the area to drop off some items to an acquaintance.

Journalists Shot at, Punched, Asked to Prove Religion
In the three days through which the violence in Delhi’s north east has escalated, in what is now being understood as communally targeted attacks on anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters and Muslims more generally, journalists have been among those injured – some quite seriously.

On Tuesday, Akash, a correspondent for JK 24×7 News, was shot at in east Delhi’s Maujpur. Four of NDTV’s journalists too were attacked and hurt, while others on the field reported that they were being subjected to similar heckling and threats as well.

Stone-Pelting, Arson Continues in Ghonda, Police Stand By
Across the Ghoda area which is close to Maujpur, The Wire’s Kabir Agarwal saw broken and burnt vehicles, burnt shops and vehicles still on fire. There were some policemen standing at the edge of the Hindu-majority area, but they did not intervene when vehicles were burning.
Eyewitnesses said Monday’s violence had continued overnight, and several shops were broken. “There was stone pelting in the area early this morning also,” said a resident.

An Eyewitness Account From Jaffrabad
The way the conflict has been laid out is linear – the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act and predominantly Muslim protestors begin at Jaffrabad, with a police cordon shortly after, reports Naomi Barton from the area. 

Beyond the site is what has now become no-man’s land. For nearly six weeks, protestors thronged to a makeshift protest site at one end and there were no reports of any major violence. Today, the tarmac is filled with broken bricks and lost slippers. Beyond lies what has now become a bastion of the Hindutva groups, who have mobilised hundreds of young men and occupied the chowk beneath the Maujpur-Babarpur station.
While 7 People Were Killed in Delhi, What Was the Home Minister Doing?

In the middle of all this, where is Amit Shah? As Union home minister, law and order in the Union territory of Delhi falls squarely under his ambit, and his ministry controls the Delhi Police.

On Sunday, Shah had reached Ahmedabad ahead of US President Donald Trump’s arrival in the city. His plan was to attend the ‘Namaste Trump’ event at Motera stadium, and then stay on in Ahmedabad until Monday evening. And that’s exactly what he did – even as reports of serious violence emerged from the national capital.

Late on Monday night, once he was back in Delhi (and while the violence was still on and reports of deaths had come in), Shah called an “urgent” meeting with home ministry officials and Delhi police commissioner Amulya Patnaik. India Today quoted sources as saying that Shah “directed officials to restore normalcy at the earliest”.

However, he made no public remarks about what was happening – not even about the police constable’s death.

Meanwhile, the minister of state in the home ministry blamed the violence on a “conspiracy” to discredit India, a line repeated by BJP MP from New Delhi, Meenakshi Lekhi.

When does it end?

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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