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AsiaCurrent

New Delhi Riots: Sikh Man Helps Rescue Dozens of Muslim Neighbours

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AsiaCurrent

New Delhi Riots: Sikh Man Helps Rescue Dozens of Muslim Neighbours

“I did not see Hindu or Muslim, I just saw people. I saw little children. I felt like they were my children and that nothing should happen to them. We did this because we all should act humanely and help those in need. What more can I say?”

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“I did not see Hindu or Muslim, I just saw people. I saw little children. I felt like they were my children and that nothing should happen to them. We did this because we all should act humanely and help those in need. What more can I say?”

The Hindu nationalist riots in New Delhi last week, which saw more than 40 people killed, is one of the worst cases of sectarian violence India has seen in modern history. The violence lasted for four days, while extremists beat and lynched Muslim residents, vandalised and burned mosques, and destroyed Muslim-owned shops.

Hindu extremists, in what many are claiming to be heavily inspired by Modi’s right-wing and Hindu nationalist government, were spurred on by political speeches ordering mobs to stop Muslims protesting against the recent Citizen Amendment Act. The CAA, created to offer asylum to a vast majority of refugees except for Muslims, has been dubbed the anti-Muslim bill by many and has inspired massive protests across India.

In one case, politician Kapil Mishra, from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made a hate speech against those protesting against the CAA, with other calls to “shoot the traitors”. These types of hate speech are becoming frighteningly more frequent in Indian politics, as Modi’s BJP continues to move towards right-winged Hindu nationalist extremism.

Anti-Muslim Mob Violence Kills 35 in New Delhi

During the horrifying violence in New Delhi, one example of interfaith solidarity was when a Sikh father-son duo helped transport 60 to 80 Muslim neighbours to a safe location away from the rioting. Mohinder Singh and Inderjit Singh reportedly transported their Muslim neighbours and friends on their small scooter, after sensing the situation was getting out of control in the Hindu-dominated neighbourhood of Gokalpuri.

Making more than 20 trips each from Gokalpuri to the more Muslim-dominated neighbourhood of Kardampuri, they sometimes had to even take three or four people at one time on their scooter to ensure they could save enough people. For the Muslim men and boys, they even wrapped Sikh turbans around their heads to conceal their identity. Speaking to reporters, Singh stated:

I did not see Hindu or Muslim, I just saw people. I saw little children. I felt like they were my children and that nothing should happen to them. We did this because we all should act humanely and help those in need. What more can I say?”

Witnesses from New Delhi describe Hindu extremists chanting “Jai Shri Ram”, while raising Hindu nationalist flags around neighbourhoods with mosques and Muslim populations. Singh describes the rush he and his son went through to transport as many Muslims as they could on their small scooter and motorcycle, as they did not even have time to get their car from the nearby parking lot.

They also witnessed mobs burning down the shop of a Muslim neighbour, and described how they used a submersible pump in the community center across the street to help put out the fire. Despite helping one shop, they could not help the other numerous shops, homes, and mosques that were torched and burned down in the rioting:

Any kind of kattarpanti (extreme views) is never good, the violence we are seeing today is a result of kattarpanti. They were shouting pro-Modi slogans.”

After news of him and his son helping Muslim neighbours went viral, Singh explained that he became fearful that he himself might be targeted by extremists for helping the victims of this mob violence. Singh has since cleared his shop in case it becomes the target of extremists hoping to burn or torch down his business.

“We got in the way of their plans of looting and burning”, Singh explained, “[and] we were afraid that we could be targeted next. We were afraid that something might happen to us”.

Help Indian Muslims by Sending A Letter to Your Local MP

As of now, as Modi’s Hindu nationalist government continues to move with relative impunity, it remains imperative on all our parts to call on our MPs, local politicians, and community leaders to openly condemn the growing violence of the Indian government on minority groups within the country.

While the brave acts of people like Mohinder Singh and Inderjit Singh are incredibly inspiring, the worrying factor of India’s growing campaign against its Muslim population remains at the heart of the issue.

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