A year has passed since the worst communal riots shook the Northeast Delhi in February 2020, a severe assault on India’s age-old culture of plural neighbourhood. Shiv Vihar was the worst hit where almost all the Muslim houses were looted, burned and pulled down by violent mobs. But the police have yet not registered a case in connection with the destruction of Madina Masjid that existed in the locality since 1984.
Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI—Police have yet not registered an FIR in connection with Shiv Vihar’s Madina Masjid that was completely destroyed by the rioters during anti-Muslim violence in Northeast Delhi from February 23 to 28, 2020. A total of 53 persons were killed including 40 Muslims and 13 Hindus in the worst communal violence in India’s post-Independent history.
Speaking to India Tomorrow, Haji Hashim Ali, president of the Madina Masjid Management Committee said that the mosque was blasted by using LPG cylinders on February 26 by locals as well as outsiders. All the mats, books, including copies of the Holy Quran were reduced to ashes in the fire. All the ceiling fans on the ground and first floors were badly mangled.
He said that he had submitted details of the names of those involved in the crime, along with video proofs showing the accused persons throwing stones on the mosque and setting it ablaze. But the police did not register any complaint in this connection.
“I personally submitted the video evidence in pen drive and CDs to Karawal Nagar Police Station. I also mentioned the names of those whom I had seen indulging into vandalism”, said 60-year-old Ali.
He said that he was himself a witness to the attack on Madina Masjid. He claimed that he had seen several local youths including Shiv Kumar, Manoj, Raju, Raja Ram, Prem Kant and Diwan attacking the mosque and burning it down.
While the incident took place in February, he lodged the complaint with the police several weeks after the incident. Giving reasons for the delay, he said that two of his houses were also looted and burnt by the mob in his presence on February 24 and 25. He said that with great difficulty, he shifted his family from the two houses to a safer place in a rented house in Mustafabad. Ali also rescued students of a ‘madrasa’ run by the mosque. ‘Madrasa’ is located some distance away from the mosque and a big mob had gathered to attack it on February 25. “I managed to rescue the students and shift them away from Shiv Vihar that was the worst scene of communal violence”, he said, stating that his priority was to save the lives of ‘madrasa’ students and local people who were under attack from all sides.
When he was helping rescue the ‘madrasa’ students, his picture was captured in a CCTV camera installed outside a Hindu resident in the locality. He said that this picture of him rescuing the ‘madrasa’ students with the help of police and local Muslims, was interpreted by police as inciting people for violence and he was arrested in April on charges of engineering violence in the area. Ali was kept in jail for about 43 days before which he was released on bail. He said that while he filed a separate complaint with regard to loot and torching of his houses in Karawal Nagar police station, the police did not file any complaint with regard to that.
Ali said that after his release from jail, he discussed the issue of filing an FIR with regard to vandalism of the mosque with other members of the management committee. “As everybody from Shiv Vihar had become displaced due to large scale violence and threat to their safety and security, it took time to decide and file an FIR. It was not a simple task when the entire atmosphere was hostile and there was least cooperation from authorities and this led to delay in filing the complaint”, he said,
Ali said that when the police did not register FIR, he moved the court with the help of his advocate M R Shamshad in June. He said that the hearing on his plea that was scheduled yesterday (February 26) could not be held and was deferred till March 12.
The mosque has now been rebuilt with all facilities by Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind. Though the ‘madrasa’ remains closed as students from outside who were earlier studying here, have refused to return due to feeling of insecurity arising out of the dangerous scenes they had seen with their own eyes. However, classes for local children-boys and girls-on basics of ‘Deeniyat’, including the Holy Quran and Hadith, were held in the mosque itself, every day in the afternoon. While boys are taught on the ground floor, girls are taught on the first floor.
Ali said that there are about 300-400 Muslim houses in Shiv Vihar and barring a few, whose houses have yet not been repaired or rebuilt, all others have returned and are living in their houses. He, however, said that most of them were facing difficulty in earning their livelihood as their livelihood sources were destroyed during the riots. He says that it will take much more time for things to return back to the tracks for the riot-hit people.
Ali said that relations between Muslims and local Hindus are slowly normalizing. He said that Hindu women are gradually coming to the mosque, particularly after Maghrib or evening prayers for treating illnesses like ‘evil eye’, particularly of their children. He said that it has been a practice of the local Hindus ever since the mosque was established in 1984 to come to the mosque seeking cure for ‘evil eye’, sorcery etc through Quranic verses and invocations of Allah Taala. “And the mosque Imam (who leads the prayers) was always helpful. But the politics of certain political groups generated hatred against Muslims and that reflected in large scale violence in February 2020, breaking the social fabric. But after all we are human beings and this hatred will not last long. I am hopeful that relations will improve again in due course of time”, Ali hoped.