04/07/2019 11:06 AM IST

9 Arrested, Peace Talks Held As Political Blame Game Continues Over Temple Vandalism In Old Delhi

BJP MP Vijay Goel stoked a controversy alleging the involvement of Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain in the communal flare-up after a temple was vandalised.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NEW DELHI — Home Minister Amit Shah was on Wednesday briefed by the Delhi Police chief on the temple vandalisation in the Chawri Bazaar area in New Delhhi even as BJP MP Vijay Goel stoked a controversy alleging the involvement of Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain in the communal flare-up but the AAP leader denied the charge.

Six more people were held in connection with the violence, which started following a quarrel over parking between two persons. With this, nine people have been held so far in connection with the incident.

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Security remained tight and prayers were also offered at the vandalised temple for the first time after the incident, a day after peace marches were taken out in which local MP and Union minister Harsh Vardhan also participated.

Amit Shah meets Delhi police chief

Shah had a meeting with Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik on the incident. The police chief said the situation in Chawri Bazaar’s Hauz Qazi area was now normal and under control, and apprised the minister of the action taken by the force.

“We had a general briefing on the incident and we told him (Shah) that the situation is normal in the area. The briefing was about that. General action has been taken, legal action will also be taken,” Patnaik told reporters in the Parliament Complex after meeting Shah, adding that CCTV footage is being analysed and an investigation is underway.

Political blame game

Politics over the incident continued with former Union minister Vijay Goel accusing Hussain of being involved in vandalism of the temple, a charge refuted by the AAP leader, who also filed a police complaint against the BJP MP for his “baseless allegations”.

Goel, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP and former president of the party’s Delhi unit, alleged that during his visit to the Hauz Qazi area, locals told him that Hussain “deliberately” gave “communal colour” to the incident.

Denying the allegations, Hussain said he tried to pacify the people at the request of the police.

Reports emerged that the minister was present in the area at the time of the clash. Reacting to this, the Ballimaran MLA said police had called him to the spot as the area came under his Assembly constituency.

The Congress too attacked the Centre, alleging that Shah and Delhi Police had taken no action even two days after the temple was vandalised.

Peace talks held

Late in the evening on Tuesday people from the two communities, in presence police, held discussions on ways to defuse the tension, which continued for the second day over the incident that happened on Sunday night.

Jamshed Siddiqui, who was present in the meeting, said, “We have spoken to each other on the issue and decided that the ‘aman committee’ (peace committee) would bear the expenses to renovate the vandalised temple.”

“We want peace in the area as it was earlier. We condemn the incident and the culprits, who have vandalised the temple, must be punished,” he said.

Bittoo, who was also present during the talks, said, “People from both the communities are living here happily for many decades. The market will be opened on Wednesday and the locals will bring back peace with the help of each other.”

“In the meeting, it has been decided that the culprits must be punished. Everybody will live peacefully and the market will be opened from Wednesday,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Mandeep Singh Randhawa.

PIL filed

Five companies of Delhi Police personnel and paramilitary forces have been deployed. All shops in the area remained functional, police said.

Mandeep Singh Randhawa, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central), said a total of five persons have been arrested and four juveniles apprehended in connection with the incident.

The police on Tuesday had held three people, including one minor, in connection with the incident.

Meanwhile, a PIL was also filed in the Delhi High Court, seeking an SIT probe into the alleged conspiracy behind the attack on the temple.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT), duly monitored by the court, must investigate the attack on the Durga Temple and identify the real perpetrators of the crime, the petition said.