Security was increased in Old Delhi’s Chawri Bazar area on Monday after a mob vandalised a temple following an altercation over a parking dispute. More than 1,000 police and paramilitary personnel armed with anti-riot gear were deployed, and all shops there were shut, the Hindustan Times reported. Police asked residents to stay indoors.
The tension began on Sunday night when 20-year-old businessman Aas Mohammad was parking his scooter outside a building, to which a resident called Sanjeev Gupta objected, PTI reported, quoting witnesses. Gupta owns a food cart at the spot.
According to Gupta’s wife, Mohammad left and returned with more men who were “probably drunk” and beat Gupta up. However, another resident, Aqib Hasan, claimed that Gupta had asked Mohammad to move the scooter somewhere else or he would set it on fire.
“Thereafter, a quarrel broke out and Gupta, along with some other person, took Mohammad inside the building and beat him up,” Hasan alleged. Saqib, another resident, said Mohammad was beaten up, after which he and his family went to police to file a case.
Saqib further said that when Mohammad and Gupta were at the police station, some unknown people gathered outside a nearby temple and vandalised it, which led to tension in the locality.
According to police, three cases were filed – one based on Mohammad’s statement, another on Gupta’s statement, and the third against unknown persons for rioting and damaging public property.
“We have registered a case into the matter and obtained CCTV footage to identify miscreants who tried to harm communal peace in the area,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Mandeep Singh Randhawa told The Hindu.
Temple priest Anil Kumar Pandey said on Monday: “A mob came to the temple last night around midnight. They vandalised the temple and left the place.”
The shutter of the temple could be seen damaged on Monday and the idols were defaced slightly, PTI reported. The two groups shouted slogans on Monday, after which senior police officials and paramilitary personnel were deployed at the spot.
Randhawa said that police had taken legal action and were making efforts to pacify residents.
“After some altercation and scuffle over a parking issue in Hauz Qazi, tension arose between two groups of people from different communities,” Randhawa tweeted. “We have taken legal action and all efforts are being made to pacify feelings and bring about amity. People are requested to help in restoring normalcy.”