Delhi: Fact finding report on recent violence in Bhalswa

September 15, 2015

[A team of Indian Federation of Trade Unions and Jan Hastakshep visited Bhalsova where allegedly communal tension was built up. The team comprised of Com. Prahalad (Vice President Delhi Committee IFTU) and Advocate Neeraj (Jan Hasakshep).  Based on there investigation, they prepared the following report.]

On 10th Sept. there were reports in the media of some clash between two communities in the Bhalsova area in a JJ colony in Block B which houses people from both community hailing from families from Bihar and Bengal. The residents of the colony have been relocated from erstwhile jhuggi clusters situated in Rohini and in Nizamuddin areas. The families living in this area are petty shopkeepers, rag pickers, kabadis (mostly Muslim families) and also some people are working in nearby industrial areas. Women work as domestic workers. In fact, it was some of these workers who late the previous night informed the IFTU leaders that there had been an incident of violence in their colony.

A team consisting of Shri Prahlad from IFTU Delhi Committee and Advocate Neeraj from Janhastakshep visited the area on 10th Sept afternoon. They met the local people from both communities, met some of those injured in the stone throwing between communities a day earlier, met the local police officials of the area including the SHO.

The reports in the media stated that after few weeks of tension due to the timings of ‘special puja’(Hindu of 10th Sept.) and prayers of other community, there was finally an incident of stone throwing between the two communities and that the police had eventually restored law and order but not before several were injured from either side. The team found that there was a dilapidated kali temple in the are situated on some approx. 250 yards of land and which had been maintained by a priest whom the Muslims whom the team met described as very friendly towards all and whom some of the Hindu families described as actually a tantric who had looked after the deity. Around two months ago the priest went away and we could not find anyone who was willing to tell the reason for the same. Subsequently the temple began being managed by a ‘committee’ which was widely simply identified as of ‘RSS people’. Subsequently also, on every Tuesday Hanuman Chalisa began being recited at the temple of Kali followed by “jai jai kar’, which neatly coincided with the timing of ajaan. The mosque is at a distance, but the small shops near the temple are also owned by Muslims and the sound from the temple was said to have drowned the ajaan call. The other feature described was that around 50 boys would come for the prayer every Tuesday and that these were outsiders to the area. Local police stated that these boys were led by a Bajrang Dal person who had petty cases pending against him in surrounding thanas. However local people of either community could not identify these boys though some of the Hindu families we spoke to said they only came to take part in the prayers and did not create any problems. The entire situation led to much dissatisfaction and Muslims began urging that the timing of the jai jai kar could be altered somewhat to allow the ajaan call to be audible- the timing of the latter being fixed. It was clearly a deliberately created situation with the intent to breed tension and foment trouble on communal lines. Enough tension had been created for the police to try to broker a solution between the two communities, but apparently the practice continued and all that the police did was to post some policemen outside the temple on Tuesdays.

The given evening (8th Sept. Tuesday) according to what was uniformly told to us ,while these boys from outside along with local worshippers were either raising jai jai kar or reciting Hanuman Chalisa, stone throwing started. The sequence is unclear- it was either from within the temple or thrown from outside at the temple, but soon there was stone pelting from both sides. The colony has plenty of loose stones lying around. However neither side was able to cite anyone who had received serious injuries though that could be for fear of arrests. In between all this some motorcycle borne people arrived but the local Muslims say their youth got together and so these people rode away. No one noted any motorcycle number. The police eventually dispersed the crowd and despite a policeman telling us the identity of the boys from outside, the FIR has been lodged against unknown persons.
Thus has discord over a non-issue been sown between the people living in harmony over the years.

The team is of the opinion that if peace is to be restored the elements who have sowed the seeds of this discord, namely the boys from outside the colony and the new management of the temple have to be booked under appropriate sections. It is absolutely unfortunate that when the city has repeatedly witnessed the attempts in different parts of the city of the Hindutva organizations to communally polarize the residents, the police and administration should not take swift, preventive action against the culprits rather than keeping two policemen at the gate of the temple every Tuesday to observe the situation. In fact the SHO told us that henceforth he himself would monitor the situation outside the temple every Tuesday. It is absolutely clear from other incidents in Delhi that police presence is no deterrent to such elements as everywhere police is remaining a spectator to the building up of communal polarization. We also call upon all residents of the city to remain alert against these attempts to divide the people of this city of diverse people. The Govt.s anyway have abdicated all responsibility to maintain communal harmony.