The streets outside a mosque in Jahangirpuri looked deserted, the shops were closed and the lamppost illuminated a chain of men standing guard through the night.
But it wasn’t just the mosque they claimed to be protecting; the men said they were also watching a nearby Kali Mata mandir.
Sajid Saifi, an electronics store owner who lives in the area, said: “Hindus and Muslims have always lived together here. I ate prasad in this temple and Hindus celebrate with us our festivals. This has never happened before; foreigners have ruined the peace.
Blocks B and C of Jahangirpuri, where the communal clashes took place, are home to a working population including fish vendors, mobile repair shops and clothing retailers.
A few hours after the violence, lawyer Shiv (35) was sitting in front of his friend Amir’s house. “We all became friends because our father and our grandfathers were friends. Some of the gathering tried to climb the mosque; I feel bad seeing this. It was only yesterday that I helped distribute sharbat and water to my Muslim friends, and today strangers tried to break our ties. We will not allow that to happen,” he said.
Pappu Kumar (17) was also absent on Saturday night, in solidarity with his friends, Aneez and Nafees. “I celebrated Holi with them. It’s strange that something like this happened,” he said.
His friend Nafees said, “We also treat Kali Mata mandir as our own. I am on good terms with the Pandit…I say Ram Ram when I see him,” he said.
However, fear is palpable in the region. Kalu (50), a fish seller, held his 11-year-old daughter in his arms and watched as police vans drove past his house. He was supposed to go to a fish market in Haryana and buy 12 quintals of fish like every other day. “I’m afraid to go out. It is feared that some people want to fight. Saara mahaul kharab kar diya bahar ke logon ne,” he said.
Working with the peace committee: Police
According to the police, the “Shobha Yatra” had the permission of the police. Special CP (Northern Zone Law and Order) Dependra Pathak said late Saturday night: “The situation is under control. We go to each house and ask all residents to maintain peace and harmony. We are prepared to deal with any rumors or unruly elements. We are in constant dialogue with members of the peace community. He said “a few police officers were injured and one was shot.”
An officer said there was a deployment of around 50 police in Jahangirpuri along with PCRs, MVPs and drones.
Sources said that following clashes in other parts of the country, the DCPs had already been told by senior officials and a special branch to be on high alert. “They have been asked to make adequate arrangements during these processions,” an officer said.