New Delhi: After missing in action for almost ten days, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, along with party MPs, visited the riot-hit areas of Northeast Delhi. Two separate delegations of Congress leaders visited different areas in Northeast Delhi.
The delegation led by Mr Gandhi included K.C. Venugopal, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, K. Suresh, Mukul Wasnik, Kumari Selja, Gaurav Gogoi and Randeep Surjewala.
The delegation visited a 32-year-old Arun Modern Public Senior Secondary School, which suffered massive damage.
The Congress delegation went around the gutted classrooms and surveyed the burnt busses.
Speaking with reporters, Mr Gandhi said, “This (school) is India’s future. Hate and violence have destroyed it. Nobody has benefited from this. Violence and hate are enemies of development. India is being divided, burnt. This will not benefit Bharat Mata.”
Before Congress leader’s arrival, families of victims from Mustafabad area lined up at the school to share their ordeal.
After Mr Gandhi’s visit, school owner Bhisham Singh said, “He visited our classrooms and expressed concern over the condition. Mr Gandhi also said that burning an educational institute is highly condemnable as children from all communities study here.”
Mr Gandhi, along with other leaders, also visited a mosque near the school that was affected by the violence. Sources said the Delhi Police advised Mr Gandhi to avoid going beyond the Brijpuri Nallah.
Mr Gandhi further said, “India’s image takes a hit when there is violence in the country, in its capital. Brotherhood and love have been burnt here. This is the loss of Hindustan, Bharat Mata. Our reputation in the world has been burnt.”
The other delegation, comprising mostly MPs, left in a bus from the Kerala House and included Hibi Eden, Gurjeet Singh Aujla and Abdul Khaleque. Their first stop was Chand Bagh where they met shopkeepers and asked them about the losses they suffered.
Mr Singh added, “The rioters don’t belong to any community. I suffered loses to the tune of `2.5 crore, as school buses and school premises were vandalised by the mob.”
Mohammad Faqrudeen, who met Mr Gandhi during his visit to the mosque set ablaze by the mob, said, “Mr Gandhi patiently listened to us and consoled us. Earlier, a delegation of Waqf board, sent by Mr Gandhi, met us to take stock of the situation. He spent a good time at the mosque and even went to the madrasa. We feel glad that he came and interacted with us.”
Seven people were brutally killed while three other sustained serious injuries just outside the mosque and Madarsa. Additionally, the mob set ablaze the holy place of worship.
Mr Faqrudeen further said, “These people are enemy of humanity.”
Murmurs were doing rounds in the Congress about Mr Gandhi’s absence during the worst riots in recent times in the national capital. In the meantime, interim party chief Sonia Gandhi convened an emergency Congress Working Committee meeting and hit out at the central government over the riots.
Addressing a press conference, she demanded the resignation of the Union home minister Amit Shah.
A Congress delegation led by Mrs Gandhi also met the President of India. She had last week deputed a five-member team to visit the riot-affected areas of Delhi and submit a report to her after assessing the situation there.