Preliminary report on riot in Sangam Park (North-West Delhi)

February 2, 2016



Sangam Park lies very near to the North Campus of Delhi University. It is about 1 km away from the Shakti Nagar Chowk, on the Grant Trunk Road going towards Azadpur and opposite to Gurudwara Nanak Piao. The Sangam Park riot of 30th January, 2016 started with a small incident. Facts of the matter may differ in different versions, interpretations may vary, but one thing is certain that this was a minor issue which snowballed into huge proportions, i.e. a serious clash between two communities.

One of the most important factors behind the flaring up of a minor issue into a serious incident is the role of the local influences, or basically “chhut-bhaiya” leaders seeking to boost their private agendas in the whole episode. It should be known that Sangam Park is well-known as an area which supplies musclemen to political parties. The area is home to many who work in the Municipal Corporation. Municipal Elections are due next year and local leaders play an important role in these elections where votes of the communities residing here, are pledged to the political parties. It is in this larger context that the incident should be examined.

The issue which involved a case of alleged misbehavior by a youth quickly escalated due to huge police negligence. The Police did not attempt to stop a group of youth (belonging to the other community), from pulling the accused youth out on to the street from the Police Post where he was being questioned by the Police. This group also started abusing the members of the accused youth’s community, who reside near the Police Post. The Police could easily have stopped these youth from intervening and inciting trouble. This group was egged on by some men of their community, who were trying to cement their influence in the locality by playing the community card.

The next day, a meeting was called at 3 pm by the Deputy Commissioner of Police to settle the matter between the two communities. But, in what can be called an act of huge irresponsibility, the DCP failed to be present. Even the SHO was absent. Only some constables were present. Also, the Police allowed the youth of one community, which is numerically the dominant community, to crowd the park where the meeting was called. This deterred the members of the other community from being fully confident of the Police’s intentions. It was at this juncture that the second clash started, in which the youth of the dominant community were ready with stones and bottles. It should be noted that a Police Force was waiting at Nanak Piao Chowk which is barely 150 meters from the place, but it was not called in promptly to stop the riot, which could easily have been prevented by heavy Police presence. It can easily be perceived that lurking behind this outward negligence was the active connivance of the Police with the rioters and hence with those political powers that benefit from such communal flare-ups.

People have also said that outsiders were brought into the locality to flame the incident. Shockingly, the local MLA, whose office is barely 200 meters from the area, has not taken any note of the incident, and has been conveniently absent even after such a serious incident. These various factors, i.e. presence of local instigators, police negligence, and the police’s connivance with the rioters as embodied in their mute support to rioters, together made an otherwise small incident transform into a large riot. This can only be termed a conspiracy to spark riots by giving boost to a small clash, so as to later reap rich dividends in elections and political contests. Also, this incident should be seen in the larger context of the rise in communal clashes across the country, where minor issues are provided communal color for political reasons and then easily translate into major (communal) conflagrations.