Age-old tensions between New Delhi's Hindu and Moslem believers flared up again in the city's old quarter on Friday (14 September) following an argument over the use of a disused building as a mosque.
Age-old tensions between New Delhi's Hindu and Moslem believers flared up again in the city's old quarter on Friday (14 September) following an argument over the use of a disused building as a mosque. Hundreds of rioters from the rival groups confronted each other in the streets wielding sticks and bottles.
SYNOPSIS: This is the Jama Masjid Mosque, in New Delhi's teeming Old Quarter. On Friday (14 September) night, the streets alongside it witnessed some of the fiercest clashes n years between rival Hindu and Moslem groups.
It was through here that the battle raged, sparked by a dispute over an old building which Moslems wanted to use as a mosque. When they tried to enter it, they found the way blocked by rival Hindu groups and it was then the trouble started. Taking up bottles and wooden clubs, the two sides began a furious street battle through the Old Quarter's maze of narrow streets and alley ways. Cars were smashed and overturned, house and shop windows smashed, and barricades set up with beds and ripped-out doors. Rioters even set fire to the local police chief's motor-scooter.
But police eventually restored order with the aid of tear gas and several volleys of shots in the air. A curfew was then imposed on the whole Old Quarter for the rest of the weekend. Anyone breaking it was immediately arrested by the large numbers of police patrolling the area.
In all, twenty-seven people were injured during the rioting, which lasted well into the early hours of Saturday (15 September) morning. Thirty-six other were arrested. Now an uneasy peace rests over this normally teeming bazaar area of New Delhi, and armed police patrol on the lookout for any further outbreaks of violence.