New Delhi: A week after deadly communal violence erupted in northeast Delhi, the situation in affected areas was peaceful but tense on Sunday as four more bodies were fished out from drains in Gokalpuri and Shiv Vihar and heavy police deployment continued.
In parts of northeast Delhi, people complained of cash crunch as several bank branches and ATMs have remained closed in the aftermath of the riots.
The Delhi Police said it has registered 254 FIRs and arrested or detained 903 persons in connection with the violence so far. Forty-one of the cases were registered under the Arms Act.
No untoward incident has been reported from the northeast district over the past three days, an official said, adding police are urging residents to not pay attention to rumours and report them to authorities.
Three bodies were fished out from two drains in Gokalpuri on Sunday while one body was pulled out from a drain in Shiv Vihar, police said. However, it is yet to be ascertained if they are linked to the riots and authorities have not updated the death toll figure.
Several bodies of riot victims have been found in drains since Wednesday including IB staffer Ankit Sharma after violence ebbed.
Panic spread across several parts of west Delhi on Sunday evening following false rumours of violence. Delhi Metro briefly shut down entry and exits of seven stations without giving any reason. However, Delhi Police swiftly denied any incident and appealed to all to remain calm.
Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar visited some of the riot-hit areas, including Brahmapuri, and consoled the people affected by the worst violence in three decades in Delhi.
“It is very disturbing to see that so many people are badly affected. We have to relieve them of trauma and bring their lives back on track. Everyone should come together to do this,” he told reporters.
Schools are closed in the Northeast district till March 7.
On Sunday, the CBSE said any further delay in conducting board exams in violence-affected areas may hamper chances of students in admission to professional courses like medical and engineering, but added that it is ready to conduct fresh exams for students who will not be able to appear as per schedule.
Aadil Khan, a resident of Jafradbad, said that several bank branches and ATMs located at B Block of Yamuna Vihar were closed since the deadly communal violence erupted on February 23.
Mohammad Alam, 27, a mobile recharge shop owner in Shiv Vihar – one of worst violence-affected areas – said his shop remained shut for the last four days.
“The business has been hit badly due to closure of banks and ATMs. People don’t have cash,” Alam told PTI.
Kailash Kumar, who lives in Mustafabad, said his family would leave the city for their hometown in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur, but he could not draw cash for travel.
Kumar said that apart from banks and ATMs, most of the grocery shops remained shut due to which there is a shortage of essential commodities.
The violence in Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Babarpur, Chand Bagh, Shiv Vihar, Bhajan Pura, Yamuna Vihar and Mustafabad areas of northeast Delhi claimed at least 42 lives and left over 200 injured.
A large number of properties have been damaged. Frenzied mobs had torched houses, shops, vehicles, a petrol pump and pelted stones at locals and police personnel.
Police said they are conducting flag marches in violence-affected areas. However, there was an eerie silence in the narrow bylanes that were teeming with people and hawkers barely a week back.
In Shiv Vihar, among the worst-hit areas, the roads were deserted and almost all the houses locked. In Mustafabad, people were wary of stepping out of their homes.
“Though there is a police presence, tension is lingering. We celebrated Eid, Holi, Diwali together. I have never faced such a situation in my life. There is grief, mistrust, disbelief. Those who indulged in violence did not belong to the area, they came from outside,” said Mohammad Yunus, 45.
Yunus, who owns a garment store in Shiv Vihar, said he was saved by his Hindu neighbours during the violence and they tore the shop’s name-board to protect the business from rioters.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the AAP government is putting in best efforts to provide relief to the people affected by the riots.
Taking to Twitter, Kejriwal said he is personally trying to ensure that relief reaches each person in need, asserting that the government wants people to return to their homes and be welcomed by their neighbours.
Anxious relatives of people missing during the violence continued to queue up at the GTB hospital mortuary, where bodies of riot victims were kept.
With a photograph of her youngest brother, Salman (25), in her hand, Nabi Jan frantically went around the mortuary hoping that he was not among those killed.
“Salman worked as a labourer and had gone to Gokalpuri on February 26. He kept a phone, but it is switched off and there is no clue of what happened to him,” Jan said.
None of the bodies in the mortuary was of his brother, he said.
A woman, whose 19-year-old son has been missing from northeast Delhi’s Mustafabad area, fell unconscious after seeing a corpse at the mortuary. Her family later confirmed that her son’s body was not there.
Sources said till Saturday six bodies were unidentified at the mortuary, out of which two were later identified and claimed. One of the bodies was charred.
Lawyer Mamtesh Sharma and paralegal volunteer Asha Mittal, manning the Shahdara District Legal Services Authority (SDLSA) help desk, said they were coordinating with hospital authorities and police to provide assistance to people seeking information about their missing family members.
“So far, around 35 families contacted us. Some have identified bodies, while others were directed by us to look into the wards where injured are admitted. Also, we are coordinating with police to find out if anyone missing was detained by them,” Sharma said.
Meanwhile, human rights activists wrote to the Delhi Police Commissioner demanding that the names and addresses of those arrested in connection with the violence in the national capital be publicised as mandated by the law.
In a letter, signed by activists Anjali Bharadwaj, co-convenor of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, advocate Prashant Bhushan, CPI leader Annie Raja, Amrita Johri among others, said Section 41-C of the CrPC mandatorily requires that a police control room be established in all districts and section 41-C(2) demands that the names and addresses of all persons arrested be displayed on the notice board outside the control room.
Acting Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava visited DCP Amit Sharma who is undergoing treatment after suffering serious injuries in the clashes.
Shrivastava has been given the additional charge of Delhi Police Commissioner, following Amulya Patnaik’s retirement on Saturday.
Shrivastava visited Max Hospital in Patparganj and inquired about the health of Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Shahdara), who suffered injuries to his head and hand in the violence in Gokulpuri on February 24.
“His health has improved and he was likely to be shifted to the ward later today. He has undergone the surgery. He is having his meals now and recovering from the serious injuries,” a family friend told PTI.