The death toll in Delhi's communal violence rose to 39 on Friday as clouds of smoke cleared to reveal the extent of the damage from the worst riots in the city in more than three decades and people gingerly stepped out for work and opened shops and other establishments. While civic workers swept the streets and bylanes of northeast Delhi littered with bricks, broken glass and other detritus of three days of communal clashes, some shopkeepers sorted through the charred remains of their vandalised and burnt shops. Police and paramilitary personnel maintained a strict vigil in view of Friday prayers at mosques.
Shops and other establishments opened in some places and more private vehicles were seen on roads. Autos and e-rickshaws also began plying in some areas as people stepped out of their homes to get back to work or catch up on essential errands.
Officials also said they were making extra efforts to quell rumours, and were holding regular flag marches and interactions in the neighbourhoods of affected areas as confidence-building measures.
"My job will be to ensure people feel safe and also that police are there for them," SN Shrivastava, who will take over as Delhi police commissioner from Sunday, said.
He said 331 peace meetings have been held in the affected areas over the last two days.
Shrivastava was repatriated from the Central Reserve Police Force and appointed as the special commissioner (law and order) of Delhi Police earlier this week when the violence started.
Local mosques in riot-hit areas appealed for peace and harmony and put out announcements asking people not to fall prey to rumours and cooperate with police.
Amid fears that the toll could go up further with several people seriously injured, a Delhi Health Department official said 39 people were killed.
More than 250 people have been injured in the communal clashes that broke out across northeast Delhi in areas such as Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Chand Bagh, Khureji Khas and Bhajanpura.
Outside the GTB Hospital, anxiety escalated as people waited outside the mortuary to receive the bodies of their loved ones. Inside, many people, caught in the communal conflagration that started over the amended citizenship law, battled their critical injuries.
Nearly 7,000 paramilitary forces have been deployed in the affected areas since Monday. Hundreds of Delhi Police personnel are also on the ground to maintain peace.
The Union Home Ministry said on Thursday night that no major incident was reported from the northeast district in the past 36 hours.
It said prohibitory orders imposed under Section 144 would be relaxed for 10 hours in view of the improvement in the situation.