‘Where They Burn Books...’: Inside Delhi Schools Attacked by Mobs

The Quint visited three schools and a madrasa in northeast Delhi which were vandalised by mobs during the violence.

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Camera: Athar Rather, Mukul Bhandari
Creative Producer: Kunal Mehra

“Someone who would have read even one book will never dare to tear books this way. Never,” laments Virendra Singh, two days after his son’s school was attacked by mobs in Shiv Vihar.

Two Schools Stood Witness to Terror

Inside the DRP school, The Quint found charred classrooms, shards of glasses, torn textbooks and broken blackboards. The school was allegedly attacked by a mob when violence intensified in this part of northeast Delhi on 25 February.

A vandalised DRP school.
A vandalised DRP school.
(Photo: PTI)

“They have destroyed everything and turned into ash. Our child's studies will be affected for at least a year now,” said Vinod Kumar, father of a 4-year-old student in DRP school.

Vijay, who runs a carpool service for DRP school, came looking for his van and broke down when he saw his charred vehicle parked in the middle of the road, strewn with bricks, stones, glass bottles and ashes. He alleged a Muslim mob had attacked the school and set ablaze his van.

“Most kids in this school come from Muslim families in Mustafabad. On the day of the violence, I had risked my life and ensured that their kids reach home safely. They didn’t even think once before taking away my source of livelihood.”
Vijay, Carpool Driver, DRP School
Vijay’s van stands in a pile of trash in front of DRP school.
Vijay’s van stands in a pile of trash in front of DRP school.
(Photo: Mukul Bhandari/The Quint)

Dharmesh Sharma, Administrative Head of DRP School claimed the attack was planned and DRP school was targeted because it is owned by a Hindu.

Eyewitnesses too, alleged that a Muslim mob had used the roof of an adjacent school, Rajdhani, as a base from where to launch attacks. This school, owned by a Muslim, was also partially damaged.

When The Quint visited the spot, we found crates of petrol bombs, a permanent structure fixed to attach a catapult and sacks filled with stones and bricks on the terrace of Rajdhani school.

Soni, wife of the owner’s driver, says, “The crates were brought in by the mobs on 25 February.” She recounted how she also saved the lives of a family of a guard that was stuck inside the DRP school.

Torn Page of Tagore’s Poem, Vandalised Library, Charred Classrooms at Arun Modern School

A torn page of Tagore’s poem, “Where the mind is without fear.”
A torn page of Tagore’s poem, “Where the mind is without fear.”
(Photo: Asmita Nandy/The Quint)

Barely two kilometres away in Brijpuri, another school stood witness to the carnage that gripped the national capital. Inside Arun Modern Public Senior Secondary school lay a torn page of Rabindranath’s Tagore’s “Where The Mind is Without Fear”, several classrooms burnt to the brink and a vandalised library.

Inside the vandalised library of Arun Modern School.
Inside the vandalised library of Arun Modern School.
(Photo: Athar Rather/The Quint)

In another lane of the violence-torn northeast Delhi, we met Saif* (name changed) who had come looking for his house that him and his mother had to vacate on the intervening night of 24-25 February after a Hindu mob set afire specific houses and shops of Muslims in Khajoori Khas.

His madrasa, set on the second floor of Fatema Masjid in Gali No 4 of Khajoori Khas, was gutted in front of his eyes. He recounted how he had rescued 15-20 kids who were studying in the madrasa when the mob attacked.

Saif alleged that his Hindu neighbours helped the mob identify the Muslim homes in the lane.

Safi looks down at the destruction in Gali No 4 of Khajoori Khas from atop his madrasa which was set ablaze by a mob.
Safi looks down at the destruction in Gali No 4 of Khajoori Khas from atop his madrasa which was set ablaze by a mob.
(Photo: Athar Rather/The Quint)

‘We’re One’: A Message to the Mobs That Attacked Places of Education

Saif says he wants to become a Hafiz, someone who completely memorises the Quran. He says he wished to teach the world that Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Christian are all brothers and sisters.

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