A Family's Ordeal in the Delhi Violence

Betrayal by neighbours, police and a BJP MLA

16 September 2020

On the evening of 23 February, Mohammad Mumtaz, a resident of Khajuri Khas, was at his family-run restaurant, Sanjar Chicken Corner, when a Hindutva mob of over hundred people began pelting stones at it. Mumtaz managed to escape, and by 10 pm that night, the mob had burnt his shop down. In a complaint he later wrote to SN Shrivastava, the commissioner of the Delhi Police, Mumtaz stated that he had seen Mohan Singh Bisht among the Hindu rioters that night. Bisht is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s member of legislative assembly from Delhi’s Karawal Nagar constituency. Mumtaz wrote that he saw the legislator instruct a mob, “Samay aa gaya hai ki inn kattuo ko dhund-dhund kar maar de”—The time has come to track these Muslims down and kill them. (“Kattua” is a slur for Muslims.) According to Mumtaz, Bisht told the group to also burn Muslims’ homes and cars, and to loot and burn their shops.

The arson of his shop was not the end of Mumtaz’s ordeal during the violence that swept northeast Delhi. Two days later, Tarkeshwar Singh, the station-house officer of the Dayalpur police station, came to the lane outside Mumtaz’s house along with a police force and fired a tear-gas shell onto his terrace, Mumtaz said. Shortly after, Bisht reached the site, along with a group of associates. Mumtaz said he witnessed the BJP MLA take out a green explosive and throw it at his house. As the mob then began looting the house and the neighbouring ones, Bisht left.

Shaheen Ahmed is a multimedia producer at The Caravan.

Prabhjit Singh is a contributing writer at The Caravan.

Keywords: Delhi Violence Delhi Police Bharatiya Janata Party