“These are our neighbours whose houses have been burnt and they are Muslim. They have fled the locality. All Muslim families here were targeted. No Hindus were affected,” says Saurabh, a resident of Bhagirati Vihar in North East Delhi’s Gokulpuri, recounting the entry of violent a mob that torched houses in the locality on the night of 25 February 2020.
Apart from shops and houses being burnt down, more than fifty cars were gutted in the locality as part of the ongoing violence in north-east Delhi. The Quint visited the affected area and spoke to neighbours who helped Muslim families flee the violence.
Bhagirati Vihar in Gokulpuri is near Mustafabad, Chand Bagh and Shiv Vihar — flashpoints of the violence in north-east Delhi which broke out on 24 February 2020.
When The Quint visited the locality in the aftermath of the violence, there were almost no people seen on the streets. Despite police presence in the locality, most families preferred to stay at home — indicating an atmosphere of mistrust between locals and the police.
“We Tried to Douse the Fire”
“On the night of 25 February, outsiders entered the area and ransacked the place. We were at home, as we were already scared. This happened in night, at around 2 am,” says Ajay, a resident of Bhagirathi Vihar.
Saurabh narrates how he helped his Muslim neighbour flee the locality when the mob came and burnt his neighbour’s house down. He says, "We tried to control the fire and were trying to douse the fire since last night. We tried to save them, and escorted them till where they needed to go, so that they are safe and protected."
Section 144 has been imposed in the area currently.
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