Video Editor: Varun Sharma
On Thursday, 27 February, the situation in northeast Delhi appeared to be relatively calm. Locals were out on the streets, which were heavily guarded by paramilitary forces. Though most shops were shut in the area, life appeared to be limping back to normalcy. However, charred buildings, gutted vehicles, broken shops and the look of terror in the eyes of the locals, bore testimony to the fear that had engulfed the area.
A violent chapter in New Delhi’s history unfolded between 23 February and 26 February. Over a dozen densely populated localities, including Jafrabad and Karawal Nagar in northeast Delhi, witnessed communal clashes, which claimed at least 42 lives and injured over 150 till Saturday morning.
Seven burnt vehicles and the smell of petrol fumes were all that was left of the gutted Bhajanpura petrol pump, located along the main road (Wazirabad road or Road Number 59) near Chand Bagh - the epicentre of the violence. Visuals of the petrol pump being set on fire went viral on Monday, 23 February. Locals said that around 50-60 people had been working there, all of whom have now been rendered jobless.
Gutted houses and shops were seen on both sides of the Dayalpur main road in Chand Bagh. Local residents watched, from their balconies and behind the gates, as swarms of reporters and paramilitary forces patrolled the area.
Heart-broken shop owners walked into their shops to recover whatever belongings survived the fire.
Several shops which were gutted, were being used on rent, and the shop owners could make it to their shops only on Thursday, when the tensions had eased up. Upon reaching, many say that they were left aghast with what they saw.
At the Khajuri Khaas-Chand Bagh intersection, which connects Chand Bagh to Wazirabad road, lay a small dargah(Sayad Chand Baba Dargah) which was ravaged during the violence.
Local Muslims lined up to offer prayers at the burnt mosque. Diagonally opposite to it, lay destroyed fruit shops with charred fruit remains spread across the road. Burnt vehicles were strewn across this street.
Arun Model Public School located on the D-block main road in Brijpuri was destroyed as the mob hurled stones and petrol bombs inside the premises.
All the vehicles inside the premise were gutted along with some classrooms and the principal's room.
The staff was seen throwing burnt books and other materials. Locals said that no one was inside the school premises when it was attacked. The adjacent mosque located beside the drain nearby was also gutted – an otherwise white tiled mosque, covered in soot and burn marks, with all the appliances burnt.
The streets of Shiv Vihar were hardly recognisable as charred and destroyed remains lay all around. The entrance to shops and houses were blocked by piles of bricks and stones.
A garage in Shiv Vihar’s Tiraha Area was burnt down on 25 February by a masked and armed mob. The perpetrators of the destruction are yet to be identified.