NEW DELHI — As graphic images of crowds of men rioting in the national capital lit up social media platforms this week, one particular clip stood out: A shaky cellphone video of a man planting a saffron flag atop the minaret of a mosque in Ashok Nagar, a neighbourhood in northeast Delhi.
For generations of Indians, both Hindu and Muslim, the image immediately evoked the iconic 1992 image of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) karsevaks atop the dome of Ayodhya’s Babri masjid, shortly before the moque was destroyed.
The destruction of Babri masjid set the stage for the transformation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from a marginal party into the mainstream political force it is today.
This week’s attack on the Masjid Maula Baksh mosque in Ashok Nagar, barely weeks after the BJP suffered a landslide defeat in Delhi state elections, has crystallised what is seen as a now well-trodden path for Modi and his home minister Amit Shah.
On Wednesday, as the city continued to burn albeit on a lower flame, HuffPost India visited riot-hit neighbourhoods to find rioters had burnt and vandalised at least three mosques and one shrine, or mazaar, in Ashok Nagar, Gokalpuri and Chand Bagh. The Maulana Baksh mosque and Chand mosque in Ashok Nagar, the Jamia Arabia Madinatul Uloom mosque in Golakpuri, and the mazaar in Chand Bagh. This is not an exhaustive list; a report in The Wirenoted that a fourth mosque had been burnt in Mustafabad. The Wire was the first publication to confirm the attack in Ashok Nagar.
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The attacks on the mosques make clear that, irrespective of the impression that the clashes in the national capital were between...