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India: Violent mobs imperil harmony with hate

India: Violent mobs imperil harmony with hate
Victims recount horrors as mobs of right wing terrorize a Delhi area known for communal harmony

By Cheena Kapoor

NEW DELHI, India (AA) - For Amir Khan, the past four days have been nothing short of a living nightmare.

The 16-year-old was shot in the foot by "a mob of Hindu men" on Tuesday, just a few meters from his house.

He has been in perpetual agony since then, unable to get medical help and confined to his house near Vijay Park in the northeastern part of India’s capital, New Delhi.

“I just stepped out to get bread and vegetables for my family. There was tension in and around our area since Sunday, and Monday was particularly bad. Many people from our neighborhood were beaten up by mobs of Hindu men and even the police,” said the teary-eyed Khan, powering through the pain to narrate his ordeal to Anadolu Agency.

“We decided all of us would skip work and stay indoors for the next few days. It was Tuesday afternoon when I finally had to go out to get some groceries. I only went as far as a shop on our street. I was there when I saw a group of Hindu men, screaming and charging towards me. I was terrified by the sight and stood there in shock.”

“Suddenly I felt a searing pain in my right foot. I had no idea what had happened; all I know was that I was limping towards my house as fast as I could,” said Khan, who earns a meagre income by binding books and lives with his widowed sister and a younger brother in a one-room rented house.

He considers himself lucky the bullet passed straight through his foot, particularly because he has been unable to get proper medical help treatment.

His neighbors and friends have been too scared to take him to the hospital, and Khan has been following a home treatment with some guidance from a local doctor.

“There is no way anyone will risk their life to help me reach a hospital. Those mobs are still out there, prowling like hounds and brutalizing anyone who crosses their path,” he said.

- Hate for harmony

People living in the Vijay Park area say their neighborhood has always been a bastion of religious and cultural diversity.

They feel that display of tolerance and harmony is why their area was particularly targeted by mobs of Hindu men.

Akil Ahmed, a resident, said the violence seen in the neighborhood was more than just acts of individual people or groups.

“This was a pre-planned attack on our community. How else could they bring two tractor trailers full of rocks and stones just before it all started?” he said.

Arshad Daniyal, 21, was badly beaten by a mob of Hindu men while returning from work on Tuesday. He has been bedridden since then, with 23 stitches for a deep cut on his thigh and seven for a gash on his head.

“We have always lived here in harmony with everyone. We have so many Hindus living in this area. You can go and check how we made sure they remained safe,” Daniyal, who runs an electronics shop, told Anadolu Agency.

“There has been no damage to their properties anywhere; the rioters have been burning and destroying our buildings, but we have not stooped to their level.”

For 45-year-old Mohammad Moinuddin, the past few days have been more than just a rough patch.

He has lost his decades-old business in the Maujpur area of northeast Delhi and fears for his family’s future.

“I have had that shop for 33 years. It has been on fire for two days now but no one has come to my aid. I have called the fire department repeatedly but they have not done anything,” said Moinuddin, who sells recycled old clothes.

“I can see my life’s hard work going up in flames and there is nothing I can do. There is no one to help me.”

- Measures and concern

According to local media reports, over 40 people have been killed and more than 200 injured in the riots that have continued in India’s capital since Sunday.

The government has restricted public gatherings for at least a month and imposed a curfew in the worst-affected areas.

Security forces have been given ‘shoot at sight’ powers in northeast Delhi, not too far from where U.S. President Donald Trump had dinner with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.

The Delhi Waqf Board announced on Thursday it will set up relief camps in violence-hit areas of the city and distribute rations in the affected areas.

International concern over the deadly violence is also growing by the day.

On Thursday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet questioned Indian authorities' failure to stop attacks against Muslims in the country.

She said India's amended citizenship law was “of great concern” and that she was worried by “reports of police inaction in the face of attacks against Muslims by other groups”.

Similarly, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) urged the Indian government to stop “anti-Muslim violence” and the desecration of Islamic places of worship in the country.

"OIC condemns the recent and alarming violence against Muslims in India, resulting in the death and injury of innocent people and the arson and vandalism of mosques and Muslim-owned properties,” it said in a statement.

The 57-member bloc of Muslim countries urged Indian authorities to bring the instigators and perpetrators to justice, and to ensure the security of India’s Muslim citizens and Islamic holy places.

source: News Feed
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