Workers clear burnt vehicles at riot-hit Khajuri Khas in New Delhi. (Photo | Parveen Negi, EPS)
Workers clear burnt vehicles at riot-hit Khajuri Khas in New Delhi. (Photo | Parveen Negi, EPS)

'We all have the same story': Making relief camp home in aftermath of Delhi riots

Fleeing homes in fear of riotous mobs, people from violence-hit parts of the city are picking up the pieces at a shelter put together by the Delhi Waqf Board

NEW DELHI: From sharing the pain of losing their homes to senseless mob violence to giggling at jokes cracked to lighten the mood, Munni and Sitara are trying to find solace in each other’s company at a time the city is still recovering from four days of rioting and arson.

The women, who hail from Shiv Vihar, which is among the riot-racked areas of Delhi, took shelter at Chaman Park after their homes were reduced to smouldering ruins before finally mooring at a relief camp set by Delhi Waqf Board in Mustafabad.

Although familiar with each other, the new shelter has brought them closer in trying times.

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“Sabki ek kahani hain, sabne ghar chor diya dange mein (We all have the same story, as we fled home during the riots). We are trying to comfort each other by sharing our sufferings and pain,” Sitara told this correspondent. They recalled how mobs entered their homes, destroyed whatever they could lay their hands on and threatened to kill them. With her widowed daughter in tow, Munni fled home as mobs ran riot last Tuesday. Sitara fled hers the day after.

“We couldn’t salvage anything as we were running for our lives. We could hear the mob chanting ‘Azaadi de di’ (We’ve set you free). We had locked ourselves in but the mob managed to break in and vandalised the ground floor. As soon as they left our lane, we ran to safety. It is by sheer God’s grace that we are still alive,” Sitara said.

Those sheltered at the camp said they are kept well and all their needs are being catered to. Those running the shelter have been providing them clothes and basic sanitary items, apart from food and blankets.

“They are taking good care of us. To be honest, the food here is better than what we had back home,” said 19-year-old Zainab. However, they said they do long to return to the familiar confines of their homes.

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“Ghar wapas jana hain. Aapna ghar toh aapna hi hota hain, khas hota hain (We want to go home. There’s no place like home. It is special). We didn’t check if our houses have been burnt but heard those belonging to Muslims in our neighbourhood were gutted,” 55-year-old Munni said.

Mohammad Salim, one of the organisers of the camp said, “The food is cooked by locals. A Sikh langar community has been helping us as well. We’re also providing legal help, especially to the ones who lost their identification papers.”

Don’t single out BJP, says Tiwari

BJP president Manoj Tiwari on Monday attacked Opposition leaders for singling out the BJP for making hate speeches. He said everyone, and not just those from the BJP, who made provocative speeches, should be criticised. Tiwari refused to buy the claim that only the BJP leaders are involved in making provocative speeches.

“They (Opposition leaders) were the first to give hate speeches and vitiate the atmosphere in the Capital and the entire country. They can’t understand the pain of the people in Delhi. They raised some questions in the House (Lok Sabha) and (Union Home Minister) Amit Shah will answer them,” Tiwari said. 

ALSO READ | Delhi riots: Peace panel to tackle hate speech, violence rumours in city

Paswan seeks speedy trial

Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday termed the communal violence in Delhi a blot on the nation and sought a trial by fast-track courts in the cases related to riots. Speaking to reporters outside Parliament on Monday, he said, “This is a blot on our country. Our image in the world has been sullied due to the violence. I demand a trial by fast-track courts for speedy justice to riot victims. There should be no discrimination in the delivery of justice. It should not meet the same fate as cases related to the anti-Sikh riots.” Paswan also demanded strongest possible action against those behind violence and hate speeches.

CM seeks info on needy people  

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday appealed to the people to provide details of the needy for a quick response from government agencies as he directed the authorities to speed up the relief and rehabilitation work in riot-hit northeast Delhi.

“We are working 24/7 to make sure relief efforts reach all in need. If u know of anyone who is in need, use #DelhiRelief to reach us,” Kejriwal tweeted, adding, “Pl do mention exact address/contact details so that we can reach him. We will ensure a quick response from our agencies.”

According to a statement released by the government, those whose houses were burnt to ashes are being given `25,000 each.

The New Indian Express