Frantic phone calls to emergency '100' number went unanswered for 48-72 hours and police personnel were missing when people needed them, a fact-finding report by a civil rights group based on eyewitness accounts from riot-hit northeast Delhi revealed on Friday, 28 February, according to PTI.
The report, ‘Let Us Heal Our Dilli,’ was released after a four-member team including Farah Naqvi, Sarojini N, Navsharan Singh, Naveen Chander visited some of the violence-hit areas.
The team visited Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad, including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri, PTI reported.
The death toll in the northeast Delhi violence has risen to 46 and over 200 injured as on Monday, 2 March, ANI reported.
A total of 148 FIRs have been registered and 630 people have been either arrested or detained so far in connection with the communal violence, a Delhi Police spokesperson said.
(You can find all updates on northeast Delhi violence here.)
‘Violence Clearly & Unambiguously Focussed on Muslims’
According to the report, residents of the affected areas did not get any help from police during emergencies. They are also upset with the Delhi government for not standing with the victims and the Centre for delayed deployment of security forces, PTI reported.
“Across the board, among Muslims and Hindus, there is enormous fury at the Delhi Police for just not being there when they were needed. People simply do not understand why. We heard repeatedly of frantic calls to the 100 line that went unanswered for 48-72 hours,” it said.
In Mustafabad, people said the central government was busy with the visit of US President Donald Trump instead of ensuring early deployment of the Army or police in the affected areas which would have saved lives and protected their properties, the report added.
"The death toll is far less, but the targeting is truly frightening - where one shop is burnt, but the two adjacent shops on either side are not. Roadside mazars are burnt, masjids in the interiors are burnt," it added.
Though the team did come across instances of Hindus bearing the brunt of the riots, the violence was “clearly and unambiguously focussed on Muslims”, the report alleged, according to PTI.
"Hindus have also been hit and suffered damage. In Brijpuri, there was a damage to the houses. Shops and banquet halls were burnt. In Gokulpuri we saw burnt autorickshaws belonging to Hindus," it said.
"Even after the attack, no one from the state or central government has reached out to victims. And it has been nearly 4 days now to (since) the first attack on Sunday (23 February). There was no relief effort. No food, no places for the displaced to stay, no one to call," it further claimed.
The four-member team’s visit was intended to give a sense of the “man-made tragedy”, the report said.
The visit also sought to understand what survivors need most urgently so that collective pressure can be put on the government and administration, and also civil society and citizens across all divides could be mobilised to reach out and help the affected people, it said.
‘Inexplicable Police Inaction, Non-Responsive Control Room’
Another eye-witness report, filed from northeast Delhi's Jafrabad, Mustafabad and Maujpur on 29 February echoed police inaction and non-responsive control room, despite a heavy police deployment in the area.
The team comprised of Advocate Dr Saif Mahmood, Advocate MR Shamshad, Advocate Shwetasree Majumder and Vishal Vig.
“Everyone we met narrated stories of inexplicable police inaction. From a non-responsive control room, to senior personnel claiming there were no orders to go to the area, to an emergency number (100) where panicked calls were received and simply not actioned...” the report read.
The fact-finding team found buildings that were burnt down, shops that were vandalised and some with national flags on them, with most of the establishments shut down.
The team first met some representatives of Jamiat Ulema e Hind at Madrasa Bab-ul-Uloom in Jafrabad where a relief camp was set up in the Idgah for people of all faiths. The team found larger reliefs camps where thousands of people were housed.
The team found that Shiv Vihar was the worst affected area where personal narratives of how the rioters were attacked were recorded.
"Rioters broke open the locks on front doors and rushed inside their homes to set them on fire with the families inside...threw gas cylinders into the flames to cause explosions...survivors climbed on to the roofs of their homes and jumped or sometimes ran through the flames to escape,” the report said.
The team heard that amid the violence, “rioters had looted, committed arson and taken over their homes.” All this, while the police guarded the entrance to Shiv Vihar and stopped anyone from crossing the barricade, the report said.
"We were also told very firmly by most women that the rioters were not their neighbours and that they were outsiders who had been brought in for that purpose; who arrived in the dead of the night with murder on their minds,” the report said.
At the Al-Hind Hospital, Dr MA Anwar also echoed the team's fears that the death toll was several times higher than the official figures. Dr Anwar said, despite repeated calls to various police officers, he failed to convince them to send ambulances.
At Mustafabad, the fact-finding team said they heard more stories of systematic and planned carnage, how the homes and establishments of Hindu owners who had rented them out to Muslims were looted and the homes and establishments of Muslim owners were set on fire.
(With inputs from PTI.)