As unabated violence continued in parts of northeast Delhi on Tuesday, 25 February, a video of a mosque being vandalised in the Ashok Nagar area started doing the rounds on social media.
The video showed men climbing on top of the mosque’s minaret, carrying a saffron flag and the Tricolour, and vandalising it amid cheers and shouting in the background.
(Note: The Quint has decided to not use the video due to its inflammatory content.)
To counter this narrative, some people were quick to claim that the video was from ‘Samastipur in Bihar’ and that it was old.
In fact, Delhi Police too issued a “clarification” saying that no mosque was vandalised in Ashok Vihar (an initial confusion which was caused due to the similar name of two places, the other being Ashok Nagar), but said nothing about this incident.
(Catch all the live updates here.)
Times Now, in its prime-time bulletin, ran the police version and referred to the video as ‘fake’.
The Quint visited the location to find out the facts and what exactly had transpired in the afternoon of 25 February in Delhi’s Ashok Nagar.
Mosque Was Vandalised and Burnt
The mosque, called Badi Masjid, is located in Gali (lane) number 5 of Ashok Nagar where the incident occurred. According to eyewitnesses and those living near the mosque, houses of locals were looted and gutted by arson.
Speaking to The Quint, a 24-year-old resident of the area, Danish, said that the mosque was vandalised around 2:30 pm on Tuesday.
“We were calling the police since 12 in the afternoon but they came in only at 2 pm and stayed for nearly 5-6 minutes. Moments after they left, the mosque was burnt and vandalised,” he added.
A flag which bears the image of lord Hanuman and an inscription of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, and the national flag, are still flying atop the mosque.
Danish further added that four Muslim families, who live behind the mosque, were targeted and their houses were attacked and looted by a mob.
Earlier on Tuesday, The Wire’s Naomi Barton, who witnessed the incident, had clarified that the incident had, in fact, occurred in Delhi and that the mosque was burnt in front of her eyes.
Houses Attacked and Looted
Another Muslim family took us into their house and showed the condition it was left in after the violence on Tuesday.
- 01/03Houses were vandalised on Tuesday in the Ashok Nagar area.(Photo: Aishwarya Iyer/The Quint)
- 02/03(Photo: Aishwarya Iyer/The Quint)
- 03/03(Photo: Aishwarya Iyer/The Quint)
“We have been living here for the last 40 years and there has been no violence. We think someone who knows about the area must have been involved otherwise how do they know that these houses belong to Muslim families?” Gulshan, another resident whose house was vandalised, said.
According to the locals, this area houses 95 percent Hindu families and the four Muslim houses, which were looted and attacked, are behind the mosque adjacent to its wall.
Another resident we spoke to, who has been living in the locality for almost 35 years, said that the crowd chanting, ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ was “uncontrollable”.
“The people who were part of the mob were not the locals of this area. I tried to reason with them but they heckled me. They were raising ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans and before we knew it, they vandalised the mosque,” Jitendra Kumar said.
Journalists Wrongly Targeted for Sharing ‘Misinformation’
Journalist Rana Ayyub was among many other scribes who shared the video of the mosque being vandalised online. But many people targeted her and said that the video was old, a narrative which was strengthened after the police “clarification”.
Clearly, the incident was true, not just the mosque, but even houses in Ashok Nagar were vandalised and looted.