by Anya Daftary
For six days, North Eastern Delhi burned. Covered in blood and ashes, Hindus and Muslims charged against, spewing hatred. The riots resulted in the deaths of 53 people, over 200 injuries and more than 2200 people arrested or detained. At least two-thirds of those killed were said to be Muslim. A week after dozens of corpses were found lying in drains, later they found many Muslims missing. Here is how a series of peaceful protests turned into violence the country hasn’t experienced in years.
Originating in Jafrabad, a sit-in by women against the CAA bill had been in the works. A BJP leader, Kapil Mishra told the Delhi Police to clear the roads threatening to have his men do it instead. By 15:30-16:00, Mishra and his followers reached Maujpur Chowk, one of the protest sites. He spoke amongst the rioters, further threatening the protesters had they failed to not disperse from both Chand Bagh and Jafrabad. within three days. Many claim Mishra to be a catalyst in the protest. Mishra, however, refutes all the allegations.
At 16:00, the pro-CAA gathering reported having stones pelted at them, from Maujpur to a nearby temple. From 2100 to 2300, collisions and clashes took place between pro and anti-CAA protesters in a variety of places including, Karawal Nagar, Maujpur Chowk, Babapur and Chang Bagh. Shops and cars were also destroyed. The Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd and the police control room says that seven hundred emergency class were made
On 24th February, sometime in the morning, a CAA mob arrived at a protest site in Jafrabad. The mob refused to leave until the protesters dispersed. By 12:30, the violence had begun. By the 25th the violence had reached a point with the RAF being deployed. Men climbed the top of masjids and dargahs, not only setting them ablaze but replacing their tops with Hanuman Flags. Echoes and cries of “Jai Shri Ram” and “Hindu ka Hindustan” (India for Hindus) were echoed around. Torn pages from the Quran were strewn across the ground in Ashok Nagar. Seven thousand five hundred emergency calls were made to the police control room Incidents began to slow down by the 27th. Clashes and cases of injured persons were reported. Godowns, tyre shops and cars were torched. On the 29th, police said the situation seemed to be returning to normal. One shop was even set on fire that day.
Amongst riot participants, journalists and members of the police were also killed if not harassed and assaulted. In a statement on 25 February, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that the violence seemed to be orchestrated to collide with NamasteTrump. The ministry refuted Army interference. Over six thousand paramilitary and police personnel were delayed. On 25th February, CM Kejriwal requested Army assistance as the death toll reached 23.
The NY Times and Washington Post amongst others painted a picture of PM Modi as a Hindu Nationalist Leader. The incidents are yet another reflection of India slowly, stepping away from the idea of secularity.