Delhi: A group of locals in old Delhi's Chandni Chowk took to the streets on Tuesday, placards in hand, asking for peace and 'resumption of normal business' as tension gripped the area after a clash over a parking spot turned communal on Sunday night.
A place of worship was also vandalised in the locality after the incident and security was beefed up in the Lal Kuan locality to prevent any further flare-up.
Two persons have been arrested and a minor apprehended for allegedly vandalising the temple, said a Delhi Police official, who declined to divulge other details.
On Tuesday evening, people from the two communities, in the presence of police, held discussions on ways to defuse the tension, which continued for the second day.
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."
The meeting was also attended by Tara Chand Saxena of the 'aman' committee.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Mandeep Singh Randhawa said the residents decided that the culprits must be punished. "Everybody will live peacefully and the market will be opened from Wednesday," he added.
The trouble began when a 20-year-old resident of the area was parking his scooter outside a building. According to witnesses, a resident of the building who runs an eatery stall there objected to it.
Sanjeev Gupta, who was at the centre of the incident, said when Aas Mohammad parked his scooter outside the building, he asked him to remove it as it was blocking a path commonly used by people.
"He, along with other persons who were drunk, started beating me. In the meantime, I called the police and narrated the incident. The police took me and Aas Mohammad to the police station where the issue of the scuffle was resolved," Gupta said.
"I just want those who vandalised the temple to renovate it and help everyone to maintain peace in the locality as it was earlier," he added.
Rahul Kashyap, a 26-year-old local who works at a private company, said, "We want the police to take action against the people who vandalised the temple and ask them to renovate it as soon as possible."
"The idols in the temple have been vandalised and we cannot worship there until the new idols are placed," said Aniket Mehra, 26, who has a business of catering.
Mufti Mukarram Ahmad, Shahi Imam of Fateh Puri Masjid also condemned the incident.
"The act is condemnable and no one has the right to vandalise or hurt the religious sentiment of any person. The RWA of Lal Kuan area would bear the expense of the temple and I appeal to the locals to help each other in maintaining peace. Please do not believe in the rumours," he said.
Senior police officials said three separate cases have been registered in connection with the incident. A case has been registered based on the scooter owner's statement, the other case is based on the statement by the building resident, and the third lodged against unknown persons for rioting and damaging public property.
Earlier on Tuesday, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi condemned the attack and said the culprits should be prosecuted and convicted in a time-bound manner.
"Attack on any place of worship or worshippers is an attack on the very pluralism and diversity of our dear country," he said in a tweet.
Attack on any place of worship or worshippers is an attack on the very pluralism & diversity of our dear country.This act of vandalism is highly condemnable & I demand that the culprits be prosecuted & convicted in a time-bound manner https://t.co/UREfjhhNzU— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) July 2, 2019
Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, the local MP, also visited the spot and reviewed security situation. He said the police will take necessary actions.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia appealed to people to believe in rumours and maintain peace. "Delhi will win and hatred will lose," he said.
Former Union Minister Vijay Goel, who has represented the Chandni Chowk constituency twice, accused the Aam Aadmi Party for using the incident for political gains.
A delegation led by VHP's Delhi unit working president Alok Kumar on Tuesday met Police Commissioner Amulaya Patnaik and demanded the arrest of those involved in vandalising a temple in central Delhi's Hauz Qazi area within four days.
The team told Patnaik that there could be a "larger design" behind the incident to "change the demography of the area".
Police personnel and paramilitary forces continue to be present in the area.
(With inputs from PTI)