Anand Mohan J
| New Delhi |
Updated: October 27, 2018 1:26:50 am
A day after an eight-year-old was beaten to death, allegedly by a group of boys in Malviya Nagar, faultlines between two communities — simmering over unresolved incidents such as attempts to burn a Ravana effigy on a disputed plot of land and the alleged disruption of namaz — appeared to deepen on Friday.
On Thursday morning, eight-year-old Mohammad Azeem had attended a reading class at a madrasa located inside the Sarai Sahaji mosque. He was accompanied by four other students, when a group of boys from another community allegedly “pelted stones at them, burst a cracker and abused them,” according to the FIR in which a seven-year-old boy is the complainant. Four boys, all minors, have been apprehended so far.
Speaking to The Indian Express, eyewitness claimed one of the boys caught Azeem by his neck, while two others caught his hands. “One of them threw him to the ground. Others started to kick and punch him. Some of them jumped on his chest and we all ran away looking for the maulana,” the eyewitnesses claimed. As per the FIR, a local resident spotted the injured boy and picked him up to carry him to the mosque.
On Friday, police had locked the two entrances to the colony neighbouring the madrasa, while mosque-goers gathered around, discussing the reasons for the boy’s death. The Imam of the mosque, Maulana Ali Johar, told the crowd, “This is a communal issue. There is no other way of seeing it. In the past, they have thrown a beer bottle, played loud music and burst crackers during our namaz. They tried to burn a Ravana effigy and hurl abuses at us.” However, many around Johar said it would be wrong to paint the incident as communal, and said tensions had been high in the area over the disputed plot of land.
While mosque officials say the plot belongs to them, those from the colony claim it is public land, and access should not be restricted. “During their religious processions, our passage is blocked and they don’t allow our children to play,” alleged Rahul Kumar, a resident.
The mosque is built on a 2,500 sq yard plot belonging to the Delhi Waqf Board. “The property is divided into five parts, housing the mosque, madrasa, a graveyard, a residence and a place occupied by a kabadi,” read an SDM (Hauz Khas) order sent in 2016. “There is a case on in the Delhi HC on this property, in which the Waqf Board and the Archaeological Survey of India are parties… The Waqf board is directed to take necessary steps to protect its boundary from encroachment,” the order read.
Malviya Nagar MLA Somnath Bharti told the crowd: “If an order was not followed, you could have come to me. If there was an incident of beer bottles been thrown, I could have helped. Some powers are giving this a communal colour, and this is unfortunate.”