New Delhi, May 17: The tension in the air is palpable at the Basai Darapur village in west Delhi's Moti Nagar with several Muslim residents living under constant fear of backlash-- days after a member of the majority Tyagi community was killed by his neighbours from the minority community.
While several Muslim families who had have fled their homes have returned after assurances from the Delhi Police, members of the Tyagi community have decided to boycott Muslims from outside Delhi. Locals claim that the village, around 10 km from the power corridors in Lutyens' Delhi, remained peaceful even in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition back in 1992.
However, the killing of the 51-year-old businessman on May 12, allegedly for resisting youths who passed lewd remarks at his daughter, has not only shook both the communities to their core but is now threatening the bonhomie that has characterised Basai Darapur for decades.
"Even during the Babri Masjid demolition, we have never witnessed any such instance. Hindus and Muslims have always stayed as a family here for ages. This is the first time something horrific like this has happened," Irfan Salami, a property dealer in the area said.
Salami who has been living here for the last 44 years said he was forced to move his family to a relative's place after he heard that thousands of people from the Tyagi community would be flooding the area.
"I returned this morning after assurances from the police," he added.
The SHO of Moti Nagar Police Station had met the Muslims of the area personally to assure them that there would be no threat to their safety. While the victim's family has appealed to not give the incident a communal colour, the locals have alleged that some fringe groups were trying to flame communal passions.
"Just to achieve political mileage, some fringe elements are trying to create a rift between the two communities," Salami said.
His views were corroborated by 32-year-old Riyaz Ahmed, who was among those who took the profusely bleeding Tyagi and his son to the hospital.
"I shifted my family to my younger sister's house in Uttam Nagar. It was only after the assurance of the police that we returned," Ahmed, who has been living in the area for the last 35 years said. Recalling the fateful night, Ahmed said, as soon as he heard noises, he rushed to rescue the businessman and his son but by the time he reached there, they had been stabbed.
"I tried to rescue his daughter from the accused and then immediately rushed the two to hospital. There were so many people watching the entire incident, but none of them came forward to help instead they filmed the episode," he said.
The minority community has condemned the incident, saying crime has no religion and the culprits involved in the act should be hanged to death. Hundreds of locals joined the victim's family in a condolence meeting in the village on Thursday and demanded financial compensation for the deceased's kin and death penalty for his killers.
A Mahapanchayat called by the Tyagi community on Thursday decided that Muslims from outside Delhi should not be allowed to stay as tenants or be given shops on rent, which has left the minority community unnerved. However, the Muslims of the area alleged that many among the protesters raised hateful slogans against their community and even filmed the entry and exit routes of the village mosque.
"A recce was conducted to ascertain the number of Muslim residents living here. Most of them who stay here as tenants were threatened by hateful comments made by the protesters," Ahmed said.
"Even the entry and exit routes of mosque were being filmed. Now, who will take the responsibility if anything untoward happens here?" he asked. Another local, Shahbaaz Ahmed (27), reminisced about the days gone by when the two communities dwelled together in unity and harmony.
"I along with my relatives - about 26 of us moved to Okhla fearing for our lives. Although we have returned, panic has gripped the area. We are feeling unsafe and I have never ever felt like this before," he said.