UN chief invokes 'spirit of Gandhi', seeks community reconciliation in strife-torn Delhi

UN chief invokes 'spirit of Gandhi', seeks community reconciliation in strife-torn Delhi
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Photo: IANS

New Delhi: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday invoked the "spirit of Gandhi" to ask for community reconciliation in Delhi that has been wracked by communal violence, according to his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

"Throughout his life, the Secretary-General has been deeply inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and today the spirit of Gandhi is needed more than ever and it is essential to create conditions for true community reconciliation," Dujarric said.

Guterres has been following the situation and is "saddened by the reports of death that we have seen over the past few days in New Delhi", he said.

The Secretary-General "again reiterates, as he has done in other places, his calls for maximum restraint and violence to be avoided," Dujarric added.

Even as Delhi limps back to normalcy after three days of violence and arson that claimed over 38 lives and left more than 200 injured, the sense of fear persisted in the residents' minds.

In several riot-hit areas of northeast Delhi, people could be seen venturing out on to the streets, several vehicles plying and shops being opened.

Firoz Ahmed, whose tour & travels shop was torched by the mob on Sunday, said, "I have come to my shop after three days to access the damage." When asked if the situation had become normal, he said, "No, it's still tense. Many shopkeepers guard their establishments in the night to prevent any untoward incident."

In Khureji Khas, which was visited by Special Commissioner of Police S.N. Shrivastava, the people expressed their yearning for peace and harmony. Several people also recounted the experiences that only strengthen faith in general humanity.

Shagufta, a resident of Gokal Puri, said, "We were stuck in our houses during the violence. Our Hindu brothers of the colony ensured our safety. They shifted us out to Khureji Khas where our other family members lived."

"We are alive today due to them," Shagufta said.

Shahana, a woman from Bhajanapura who also took refuge at the home of her relatives in Khureji Khas, said, "After the violence broke out on Sunday, we were terrified. Our cloth shop in Bhajanpura was gutted. We feared for our safety. The next day our neighbours helped us to reach here and we are thankful to them," she said.

On the heavy police deployment in the area, Shabana said, "We are safe till the police is here. But once the deployment is decreased, the real test will begin."

Zainab, a resident of Moonga Nagar in the Chand Bagh locality, said her shop and house were gutted on Monday afternoon. On who were they and could she identify them, she said, "They were not locals. They were outsiders. We have been living here for decades, and celebrate festivals together. They would have never want to harm us. It was outsiders who did this to our house."

On communal harmony, Zainab said: "We want to live together. We have no problem with our neighbours. But the police must identify the culprits who did this to us."

Some metres towards the Chand Bagh area, a community house adjacent to the AAP Councillor Tahir Hussain's home was gutted along with shops and houses. Dozens of burnt vehicles could be seen strewn on streets.

The 3-km stretch from the Bhajanpura to Karawal Nagar was littered with bricks, stones, shattered glasses, torched vehicles, and razed houses on the sides. All that conveyed the tale of sufferings the residents had to undergo due to riots.

It all started with clashes on Sunday between pro- and anti-new citizenship law activists, which took a violent turn only to become free-for-all riots to scorch the city, instilling fears among residents that may take some time to wane.

As per the latest figures, at least 38 people have been killed in the violence. Mosques, residences and businesses have also been attacked.

(With inputs from agencies)

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