‘Outside connection cannot be ruled out’
MLA of Trilokpuri Raju Dhingan tells Hardnews the events that led to a confrontation between two groups
Asad Ashraf Delhi
How did you get to know about violence in your constituency?
I received a call from a neighbour informing me about a clash between two groups of people in my block, No. 30, over a gambling incident. I called up the SHO of TrilokPuri, requesting him to come and intervene. But to my surprise, he informed me a similar tussle had broken out in Block 20. Later, when I started getting more calls, I realised things had taken a serious turn.
Many residents are complaining that the local MLA did not act swiftly, fearing being labelled pro-minority. What do you want to tell them?
The clash was brought under control after I rushed to the spot and intervened along with the SHO. Around 10 pm the next day, October 23, I heard full-fledged violence had broken out again. I called up the DCP and kept following the matter throughout the night. On the 24th morning, I sought imposing of curfew and implementing Section 144 in the area. But the police officials paid no heed, saying curfew will be imposed when the need is felt.
Are you passing the blame to the Delhi police? Being the MLA, the moral responsibility of stopping the violence falls on you.
I am not shying away from my responsibility. All I am saying is that I am not God. The situation was out of control and I alone couldn’t do much except alert the police and appeal to people to maintain peace. Considering the peace and normalcy here, I didn’t anticipate violence on this scale, or that some political parties might try to disrupt matters. Being the MLA of the constituency, I accept my failure but not the accusations.
So you are accusing the police of not acting swiftly?
I am not accusing the police. I am saying they didn’t pay heed to my demands for implementation of curfew or Section 144. Although a curfew was imposed that night, I wonder what stopped them from imposing it during the day.
You spoke about political elements hatching a conspiracy to execute violence. Who are these elements, and what do they want?
I will not take any individual’s name with any affirmation, but I would like an inquiry to be set up in this matter. I feel Sunil Vaidya of the BJP and some leaders of the Congress have conspired. A day before Diwali, Vaidya had invited many people over for his birthday party. Some residents present there told us that slogans such as ‘Har Har Mahadev’ were raised during the party. Outside connection cannot be ruled out in this case. On the 24th, some people complained to me that Vaidya had visited the site and threatened the Muslims that a temple would be built right on the spot. On the other hand, the Congress, aiming to lure Muslims towards itself, preferred not to do anything to stop the riots despite my repeated pleas. I appeal to the LG to instigate an inquiry into the matter.
What was the most likely factor responsible for the culmination of violence?
In the first place I don’t see it as violence that broke out directly between Hindus and Muslims; it’s only a few anti social elements involved from both sides. Second, violence of this kind may be sparked by an event but the preparations are carried out for a long time. As for the trigger, there are different stories. Some say it happened because of an idol placed in front of a mosque, but when I went to the spot I realised that it was almost 100 metres away from the mosque. Others say someone threw cow meat at the temple, while others say some Muslim boy pissed in front of it. Even I don’t know what really happened.
How is the situation on the ground now?
Things have normalised now. I have requested people to come back to their homes, open their shops and restore normalcy. I have asked my people to keep a check on any suspicious activity and inform me immediately about it. I am pretty sure that if the police cooperates with me here on, there will be no more violence.
Will this incident have a negative electoral impact on you?
I am pretty sure about my victory in the forthcoming Delhi elections. I can only assure that the margin of victory will be more than before.