After a series of riots that have shook India’s secular status to the core, the faces behind burning New Delhi have emerged as they glaringly prattle about inflicting violence against Muslims, while few naming it as an ‘act of retaliation’, in an article published on Scroll.in on Thursday.
The communal violence had originally begun on February 24 as a clash between groups supporting and opposing the new Citizenship Amendment Act – that enables Indian citizenship for undocumented non-Muslim migrants from the three neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – introducing a religious criterion for Indian citizenship for the first time.
Nishant Kumar, 29, who had an unsettling smile on his face as he spoke about murdering Muslim men on the haunting night of February 29, claimed to have witnessed a “Mohammadan” mob burn down vehicles in the Yamuna Vihar – one of the affected areas of Delhi.
“What we did was an act of retaliation,” he insisted.
According to the published article, on the morning of February 25, Kumar said he stepped out around 8am. He was armed with an iron rod. He tied a kitchen knife to one end of the rod to make up for the absence of a gun. “Bandook nikaalke pakde jaana hai kya?” “I did not want to get caught with a gun,” he exclaimed.
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At around 10am, Kumar said he got his first hit. “The Mohammadan was running,” he recalled. “The Hindu public was chasing him. I was leading the pack.”
“I was the first to catch up with him, and hit him with my rod on his head,” he continued, his voice turning shriller and his hands mimicking the strike. “Then he fell down, and the public pounced on him after that…de dhana dhan dhan.”
Kumar said he killed two more people in a similar fashion – striking Muslim men running away from Hindu mobs in the back with his improvised weapon. “I had to kill three. I did that.”
While inquiring about the role of policemen around when he was chasing down Muslim men and hacking them, Kumar said there were none. “There was no one,” he said. “No one came even after we killed them and threw their bodies.”
When asked about what the young men did on February 24 and 25, the peak of the violence in Delhi, several young men – both Muslim and Hindu claimed to have not stepped out of their homes at all; others said they did “whatever it took” to defend themselves.
When pressed for details, they said they pelted stones and brandished rods and sticks to keep approaching mobs at bay.
Muslim youth, in particular, doggedly stuck to the self-defence narrative.
As cited by the article, the most chilling account came from a 32-year-old cab driver, who works for a taxi app service.
“Tum Hindu ho isiliye bol raha hoon, varna yeh sab bolne ki cheez nahi hai,” he said. (You are a Hindu, that is why I am telling you. Otherwise, these are not things you talk about.)
The driver claimed he was armed with a gun and a sword. “The gun in my left hand and the sword in the right one,” he said. “My aunt said she was reminded of my father. He would step out just like that during the 1984 riots.”
While a few Hindu men went on a killing spree, others stood admitting the first thing they did was cut off the electricity, the driver claimed. “We knew, of course, which houses belonged to Muslims,” one of them said.
As a parting shot, one of the rioters said: “Bahut dabaa ke kaata saalon ko” (we really slayed them [Muslims]). Why else do you think they are going around begging for peace?” he added.