“Media-wale wahi keh rahen jo sarkar unse kehlwana chah rahi hai, sach nahi dikha rahen wo”—The media is saying what the government wants them to say, they are not showing the truth, Sharafat Ali, the president of the Khajoori Khas market association, said. Khajoori Khas was one of the worst affected areas during the communal violence that swept northeast Delhi in the last week of February. All of its neighbouring areas—Bhajanpura, Shiv Vihar, Chand Bagh, Chandu Nagar, Karawal Nagar and Mustafabad—were isolated from the rest of the national capital for around forty-eight hours between 24 and 25 February. For those two days, mobs reigned the streets and the Delhi Police either silently watched or aided the violence, residents told me.
The residents of Khajoori Khas, a Muslim-majority locality, said that they were extremely disappointed with and distrustful of the media because of its fixation on two issues: the killing of Ankit Sharma, a 23-year-old Intelligence Bureau staffer whose body was recovered from a drain in Chand Bagh on 26 February; and Tahir Hussain, a local Aam Aadmi Party councillor who was booked for Sharma’s murder two days later. Hussain’s house is on the main road of Khajoori Khas, known as the Karawal Nagar road, and Sharma’s house is around five hundred metres away, in the neighbourhood’s by-lanes. The residents said that the media was deliberately maligning Hussain and that its reportage on the two subjects was distorted with the intent to project the Muslims of Khajoori Khas as “aggressors” and portray the Hindus as “victims.”
Every Muslim resident, even those whom I met in other neighbouring areas, believed journalists were demonising Muslims even while the evidence on the ground, of targeted destruction of Muslim houses and shops, was proof of their losses. They felt that the media’s focus on Hussain and Sharma had wiped out the common Muslim resident’s loss of life and property from the national narrative.