Delhi Riots: How did rioters manage to carry 200 ltr oil drums to target Brijpuri homes?
Hindu households in Northeast Delhi's Brijpuri locality witnessed the horror for nearly 4 hours. The rioters had left behind oil drums of 200 litres with clothes mounted on them – a classic way to create molotovs.
The walls in Brijpuri's D Block are full of graffiti. They have slogans of Azadi (freedom), declaration of people's rejection of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Images of BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi can also be seen on the walls in the area. During the Delhi riots, which have claimed over 45 lives so far, the biggest irony unfolded here.
Rioters had identified and gutted Hindu households. They first used a private school compound to carry out the attacks and later set it on fire. Right in front of Gandhi's graffiti is Chetan Kaushik's house which has been reduced to debris. Praveen Kaushik, a local resident, claims "the rioters were firing gunshots from that side of the wall", pointing towards Gandhi's graffiti.
The violence in Delhi started from Northeast district's Maujpur-Babarpur localities. The first rounds of stone-pelting and arson on February 23 were dubbed as clashes between anti-CAA and pro-CAA mobs. Soon after, the unrest took the shape of full-blown communal riots. Frenzied mobs were out on the streets of Northeast Delhi baying for blood. The riots spread from Maujpur – Jaffrabad areas to residential colonies such as Shiv Vihar, Chand Bagh, Gokalpuri, Ghonda, Mustafabad and Khajuri Khas.
The attacks in Khajuri Khas Extension, Shiv Vihar tripoint and Brijpuri had one thing in common -- the rioters had come prepared and they were in no hurry. They unleashed the worst possible violence after identifying the religious identity of properties. In Khajuri Khas Extension, Muslim households and Fatima Masjid became their primary targets. In Shiv Vihar, shops and houses owned by Hindus became the target. The market in Shiv Vihar looked like a war zone. Here, the rioters used Rajdhani Public School -- a private institution -- to launch attacks on the shops and houses.
Brijpuri's D Block is barely 15 minutes away from Rajdhani Public School. Another private school named -- Arun Modern Public School -- in the area was also overtaken by the rioters. They used it as a shelter after taking the locality under siege.
Households and businesses owned by Hindus became targets of the arsonist mob on February 25. Chetan Kaushik, a 27-year-old resident, said that the rioters started targeting the houses post 3.30 pm on Tuesday. "We were still inside our houses when the rioters began violence on this stretch. They had guns; they were pelting stones, throwing petrol bombs and setting properties on fire. We retaliated and held the fort till the time we could," Kaushik recalls. The rioters used sharp cutters to open the metal gate of his house. "The moment we realised that they have managed to trespass, we ran away from our houses… jumping from one terrace to another," he said. Six members of his family managed to run away. But everything in his house -- jewellery, cash, clothes, food and even the property documents were either looted or torched.
Kaushik's neighbour, Karan Kapoor, looked shattered after the attacks. His house was ransacked and his shop was gutted. "They identified houses with Hindu names or those having pictures of Hindu gods. One of our scooties had a Mahakaal (Lord Shiva) sticker on it. That's how they identified it and set it on fire," Kapoor told Asiaville. According to the locals, on February 25, the rioters carried out these attacks for nearly four hours. Both Kaushik and Kapoor's families had to flee to their relatives' house that day to save their lives.
Each floor of Kaushik's house was set on fire. Kapoor's house too met a similar destiny. Arun Modern Public School, which was used by rioters as a resting place, was also attacked with petrol bombs.
Shockingly, the rioters were well equipped and prepared to carry out maximum mayhem. They were carrying stones and bricks on carts. The fearlessness of these rioters can be sensed from the fact that they were carrying 200 litres of oil drums on a cart. They probably had enough time or were sure that the para-military forces were too busy containing the riots in other parts of Mustafabad and Karawal Nagar.
A team of Forensic Sciences Lab (FSL) was collecting evidence from these houses. Two 200 litres oil drums were left outside Kaushik's house. The team took out a piece of clothing mounted on the holes of these drums. According to them, the drums were filled with kerosene. The rioters were either planning to use them as heavy molotovs or it was stock for creating hundreds of smaller molotovs.
Several properties on this stretch owned by Hindus were targeted and torched. At Shiv Vihar, carnage and arson were carried out on the same day (February 25). Asiaville had earlier reported how the rioters were running amok in this locality. In one of the gutted shops, we had found a dead body whose hands and legs were first chopped and then it was set on fire.
In the back lanes of Shiv Vihar market, the houses of Hindus were looted and attacked with stones and petrol bombs. Sujith Tomar, whose house was looted, said: "Our Muslim neighbours had left even before the rioters reached this locality. When the riots began, we had no option but to hide inside our houses." The families in these two lanes managed to escape only when the para forces came for their rescue. Tomar shared the sinister plan of the rioters.
The preparation of rioters inside Rajdhani Public School – one of the tallest buildings in the Shiv Vihar locality - exposes the failure of the Delhi Police. The rioters had managed to gather bricks and hundreds of Molotovs inside the school. Importantly, they had enough time to install an iron slingshot on the roof of the school. The slingshot enabled the arsonists to attack the properties even at a certain distance.
Two car-parking spaces a few metres from the school had been completely gutted.
The attacks from communal mobs from each side in Khajuri Khas Extension, Shiv Vihar and Brijpuri raise several questions, including: Did arsonist communal mobs outsmart the Delhi Police? Or did the Delhi Police lack the will to contain the communal riots?