In the evening hours of 26 February, the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan hospital was crowded with the families of those injured in the communal violence in Delhi. I watched as one after the other, ambulances brought in injured patients. Elsewhere, people carried the dead bodies of their relatives back home. So far, at least 43 people have died as a result of the violence. Standing outside the hospital, I learned that a few of the injured were transferred to a Rain Basera, a government-run shelter home.
At the shelter home, I met two residents of Mustafabad—Shaukat Ali Mirza and Muhammed Imran—who said they sustained bullet injuries in the lower half of their body. They both said that members of a mob fired at them during the violence on 25 February. They were first treated at Al-Hind hospital and later at LNJP hospital
Mirza, a 42-year-old resident of Babu Nagar in Mustafabad, works as a labourer. A minute into our conversation, he told me that the pain from his injury was sometimes unbearable. Lying down on the mattress allotted to him at the shelter home, he recalled how he was shot at on the evening of 25 February. At around 9 pm, he said he was walking home after offering namaz. “I couldn't see anything in the dark,” Mirza said. “When I went closer to some people, I saw that bullets were being fired and tear-gas shells were being thrown. There is a branch of the Punjab National Bank near our house, I was standing there when suddenly a bullet hit me.” He added that he was not able to identify who fired at him. “I am not saying a Hindu brother or a Muslim brother shot me, but wherever the bullet came from, it hit me in the leg,” he said.
Mirza recalled that on the afternoon of 24 February, a mob approached his neighbourhood with chants of “Jai Shri Ram.” He said that mob started attacking the locality around 2.30 pm and continued throughout the night. Mirza added that the police were absent on the scene. He said that fewer lives would have been lost had the police done its job.
According to Mirza, the violence began after a speech by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra the previous day. On the evening of 23 February, Mishra gave the Delhi police a three-day ultimatum to remove people protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act from a protest site at the Chand Bagh road. He threatened that he along with his supporters would take matters in their own hands if the police failed to do so.