Posted by Namita Bhandare:
Days after a series of bombs went off in the Indian Capital’s elite markets, killing 20 and injuring another 90 people, Delhi police had a ‘fierce exchange’ of fire with suspected militants bang in the middle of the city’s Muslim-dominated Jamia Nagar.
Police officials said two suspected militants — including one called Atiq, a suspect in the Delhi (and earlier, Ahmedabad) bomb blasts, were shot dead, one was arrested and two managed to escape. Two policemen were injured in the same encounter. For details on that story click here and here.
In Jamia Nagar, tension ran high as rumours went wild. Journalists reported that local residents in Jamia Nagar were incensed after hearing a rumour that the shootout was staged from one of the localities 18 mosques. Elsewhere, there were questions about whether this was another ‘fake’ encounter Delhi police are notorious for, particularly as the government (and its home minister Shivraj Patil) have come under some severe criticism for its Intelligence failure to prevent the Delhi blasts (and the preceding 13 blasts over the past four years).
Meanwhile, in an earlier post on his blog The Delhi Walla, journalist Mayank Austen Soofi describes Jamia Nagar as Delhi’s ‘rich Muslim ghetto’, home to the Batla House bazaar with all-night henna shops and the world-class Jamia Millia Islamia University.
In front of the university library
Jamia Nagar conjures up the image of either the pristine campus of Jamia Millia University with its parks and ponds, trees and benches, ducks and koyals, or the cramped colonies packed with claustrophobic apartments, uncovered drains, and pot-holed roads. It is one of the city’s many religious-ethnic enclaves, much like Chittaranjan Park (Bengalis) and Tikak Nagar(Sikhs), where Delhi shows its class and religious divides.
Jamia Nagar is a ten-minute drive from one of city’s major business hubs, Nehru Place. Yamuna, flowing just behind Shaheen Bagh, looks surprisingly clean.
And, finally, my column in Mint looks at living under the shadow of death in India’s capital. While political parties seek to score brownie points against each other, life goes on for ordinary people — scared, vulnerable yet faced with the gritty reality of having to survive and make a living.
My younger daughter, aged 13, had laid out the clothes she was going to wear for Sunday’s early morning Terry Fox run. The plan was to get to her school early on Sunday morning where she would join her classmates to run for the cancer awareness-raising event and then round it off with lunch with a group of friends at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Connaught Place.
By 6.30pm on Saturday, when images of the bomb blasts began beaming into our living room, her clothes were back in her cupboard, plans abandoned. Don’t panic, said Delhi chief minister Shiela Dikshit on television. “I’m not panicking,” I explained to my teenager. “I’m just not letting you out of the house tomorrow.”