In Bawana caste Panchayats enacted a communal posture and were utilised to deliver the threats. Overt violence was avoided by the threatened minority by giving in to the bullying tactics of the communal elements within the area. A campaign of manufacturing hatred around alleged cow-slaughtering had been fomenting since the early October this year around Eid-uz-Zuha. It is interesting to note that the campaign was founded on already existing faultlines of the original rural residents of Bawana and neighbouring villages, and those urban poor resettled here after being evicted years ago from Yamuna Pushta and various other slums in Delhi.
Thus, the approach adopted in defending the secular character of our public sphere and polity must be well-considered, multi-pronged and strong. Many of us as individuals or as part of civil society organisations are already responding to these challenges. Nagarik Ekta Manch is a coming together of all these efforts by groups, organisations and individuals in Delhi. The chosen name of the forum symbolically gesture at the spirit of civil society response to the 1984 Sikh Massacres in Delhi which had coalesced under the same name.
NEM is keenly aware of the need to keep in mind the legal, social, political and economic dynamics involved in these communal conflagrations. We recognize that the struggle against communalism is linked with the question of attack on life and livelihood of working people, corporate plunder, caste atrocities, gender injustice, state-oppression and various issues affecting the students and youth of the country. We also recognise that although the immediate mitigating efforts are going to mindful of the impending assembly elections the social and subtle manufacturing of hatred will not stop with elections getting over. We will strive to campaign proactively among various sections of the society to politicise people against religious fundamentalism and the politics of hate mongering.
Locals, when interrogated, also revealed that local politicians instigation escalated the tension. It is said that the former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya was called to intervened, but he only further fuelled the religious sentiments of people. Reportedly on Diwali night Vaidya stated at the Chowki that a permanent temple would be constructed at the spot where the Mata ki Chowki was located. Vaidya has however denied the allegation in an interview to a English newspaper. He says, “People came to me to complain against a group of Muslim criminals who were disrupting a Mata ki Chowki function. So I called the SHO and ACP to my office to listen to their complaints. I did not hold any meeting on Diwali night”. Even with all this tension, Trilokpuri was relatively quiet, on the eve of Diwali.
In the afternoon of 25th, many policemen, came to block 15, and arrested 14 youngsters without giving them a reason. The boys were taken into the police station, were beaten badly, not given food till they were sent to jail and framed under severe charges along with others. After relentless efforts to reach out to all concerned authorities the section 144 was imposed only in the late evening of 25th October, though that was the first step ought to have been taken, right on the very first day, 23rd night.
On the other hand, former BJP MLA Sunil Vaidya and local RSS leader Ram Charan Gujarati were excessively engaged; they continued to roam around freely in and out of the police stations and in the area. In the de-facto BJP office at Sunil Vaidya’s residence in Block 21, groups of around 25-30 young men were huddled inside in the afternoon. They came out on the streets to video-graph themselves saying “BJP is our only savior. We shall vote them to power this time”. This was happening after a couple of days since the violence took place and more than 50 youths (mostly from minority community) were in jail and at a time when Section 144 was imposed. It was clearly not a spontaneous scene, but an orchestrated display of power and the intention of the power that be.
- A SIT inquiry supervised by the High Court of Delhi should be constituted on the TrilokPuri incidents;
- The victims should be given appropriate compensation according to their loss after a proper loss mapping exercise;
- People who have lost their employment should be compensated through livelihood options too;
- Schools should adhere the guidelines of the Education Department, Delhi in the case of discrimination against any student on the basis of religion, cast, class and gender;
- Police should withdraw false cases against the arrested youths where there was no proof of wrongdoing on their part and they were picked up from their homes or factories.
- Political parties should be strongly prevented from stirring the communal pot for political gains.
Only three-four policemen loiter in the area tonight on 1st November, while the administration, including the Lt. Governor and Police Commissioner, has been alerted in the afternoon itself by various pro-people forces and local people on the rabidly communal ‘parcha’ that has been circulated in the area. This parcha explicitly gives a ‘call for Bawana’ to stop the supposed terror procession and ‘show of arms’, ‘display of strength’, disruption of peace and other baseless allegations on the Muslim community.
- The administration must immediately stop this illegal communal Mahapanchayat gathering which has an expressed rabid communal agenda
- Deploy continuous presence of increased police force till situation is stable.
- Strongly act against and arrest the fundamentalist communal forces of ‘Hindu Krantikari Sena’ now who have been planfully trying to instigate communal polarization and violence since before October.
- Facilitate the Aman Shanti Sabha being sought to be organized by the local Bawana JJ colony people as an effort in peace-building.
- Investigate into the biased role of the local Bawana police and punish the guilty and lax officials.
On the 25th of November, around 400 houses were demolished in the Israil camp in Rangapuri area near Vasant Kunj. This is an old settlement which was partly legalised following the intervention by the Supreme Court and NHRC in 2000. Around 2000 people have been rendered homeless in this demolition. The demolition was done at a notice of ten minutes resulting in loss of property which could have been saved otherwise. Some injuries were also reported during the demolition.
Ghazala Jamil ghazalajamil[at]gmail.com
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Muhammad Aamir Khan aamir.anhad[at]gmail.com
Om Prasad omprasad14[at]gmail.com
Ovais Sultan Khan india.ovais[at]gmail.com
Purnima Gupta guptapurnima[at]gmail.com
Than Singh Josh joshantyoday[at]gmail.com