5 April 2020 06:28 AM



The Story Behind The Communal Violence in Trilokpuri: Part Two

The politics behind the communal violence in Trilokpuri

NEW DELHI: In the last Assembly elections, Trilokpuri voted for Aam Aadmi Party’s Raju Dhingan who won the seat with a whopping margin of 23,000 votes over his nearest BJP rival Sunil Kumar Vaid. The win was possible because of the united vote of the predominantly Balmiki populated area along with the Muslims and sections of the Sikhs.

In what is becoming a pattern of targeted low intensity communal conflicts since the Lok Sabha elections this year, and every election in the States since, Trilokpuri sets the stage for the forthcoming elections in Delhi. The united vote, and the communal amity in this burgeoning locality has been completely fractured with the Muslims emerging from the traumatic violence marginalised and isolated, and the resurgent Balmiki population switching its electoral affection to the BJP clearly and visibly.

All other parties have become irrelevant. The Congress party created this resettlement colony to accommodate slums removed from posh Delhi under the Indira Gandhi-Sanjay Gandhi era. In 1984 Congress leaders led the mobs to kill the Sikhs living in the area, with the men being dragged out of their homes and burnt alive. This writer witnessed the deaths, and came across men running away from lit bonfires all across Trilokpuri with several bodies burning in each. The count led to over 500 (officially 350) Sikhs burnt in this area alone. The Congress party won the elections held soon after.

Aam Aadmi party was the first really to cut across all sections, after years, and get good support in Trilokpuri. However, this violence has fractured the support base with the AAP MLA---himself a Balmiki---having disappeared from view. Of the 3000 houses in Trilokpuri, only 298 belong to the Muslims. Therefore every other political party is hesitant to take action for fear of alienating the majority vote bank. However, more recently AAP has spoken of organising a communal harmony march but most residents were of the view that this action was a case of too little, too late, and that the electoral ground had shifted from under its feet. Local CPI leader AA Khan, who is very popular amongst all communities here, said, that the BJP had made full political capital out of the violence and was now ahead of all other political parties insofar as electoral support was concerned.

As reported in the first part of this series, the BJP and its affiliate organisations Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal left no stone unturned to first allegedly create discord, and two capitalise on the violence later. Vaid is reported to have held a meeting of 300 Balmiki youth before the violence began in different blocks of Trilokpuri. The front organisations have been carrying out an aggressive campaign amongst the youth with the Muslims of course being projected as the ‘other’, necessary to polarise and consolidate.

After the small fracas as again reported in Part One of this series, the BJP unit went into overdrive to spread rumours and exaggerated versions of the incident, according to Dr Khan. Locals said that the area was beset with rumours after which the youth were mobilised for the communal attack. Interestingly, the police came in after about a three hour period and then used its might to crack down on the Muslims in particular, beating them mercilessly, and using tear gas indiscriminately. Of the 70 odd persons detained over two thirds are reported to be Muslims and this point was raised by locals at harmony meetings called subsequently by the police.

The bigger Muslims shops were set on fire with the owners losing their lives earnings. Fear of large scale violence was created with the calibrated decision of bringing in the police to prevent large scale killings after a short period of time to contain the situation. But the damage has been done. Fear and hate has replaced amity and security; Muslims doing well for themselves have lost their business; youth have been arrested in numbers, limbs broken, and sent to jail under a number of unproven charges. And the electoral understanding visible in the last state polls has disintegrated into suspicion and anger.

Muzaffarnagar, the first low intensity conflict in that the number of dead were few as compared to the thousands displaced, set the trend. Fact finding reports, more than the media, have set out the facts of the venomous mix between rumours, mahapanchayats, provocative hate speeches, videos on the social media all feeding into the communal mix that then ignited the violence that spread into the villages for perhaps the first time in this part of Uttar Pradesh. This had a major impact in the state leading to a major consolidation of the majority vote bank that led the BJP to sweep the state, winning 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats.

Before the elections in Maharashtra, Pune became the trendsetter with rampaging mobs spreading terror in Muslim localities. Here the low intensity effort was dented by the bludgeoning to death of a young Muslim techie by a mob that sent shock waves through the country, and was even reported in the normally silent media these days. Similarly in Haryana before the polls.

Currently the BJP is looking at forming a government without the elections but has not made up its mind. But it is an extremely efficient party, led by president Amit Shah who has been very effective in keeping all flanks covered. Trilokpuri, like Muzaffarnagar, will have a ripple down impact in the slums and shanties that had hitherto pledged support to the Aam Aadmi party. Interestingly despite having the most to lose AAP has been the most visible by its absence.