NEW DELHI: For the past year, Mohammad Sameer’s existence has been revolving around a single bed. His access to the world outside is only through his mobile phone.
“Mujhe normal zindagi chahiye, jaise mere baki dost log ghumte hai (I want my normal life back, like my friends). I just hope I walk, run soon... I want to go to school, have all the fun like other boys,” says the 17-year-old lying on his bed, at home in the Johri Pur area.
Hit by a bullet during the northeast Delhi riots last year, the lower part of Sameer’s body is paralysed. All that he remembers is on February 24, he was returning home after offering prayers at Kasabpura when he was shot. The bullet hit him on the right side of his chest. Unfortunately, the bullet shell got stuck in the backbone.
“Within seconds I lost balance and couldn’t walk. When I regained sense, I was already at the GTB hospital,” he adds.
A therapist comes everyday to help him stand up on his feet again. He lives in a two-room rented place with eight other family members. His parents work as domestic helpers. From Washing to having his bath seated on the bed, everything is taken care of by his mother. “The worst came during the lockdown. Sameer developed bedsore and was admitted to St Stephen’s Hospital.
We used to walk to the hospital and back initially. No ambulance would come. Recently, he has been advised treatment at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre,” says his father Mohammad Zakir “We are not so educated, nor have enough money for proper treatment. Whatever we managed came through compensations and financial aids from NGOs like Helping Hands,” his father adds.
Sameer had cleared his Class IX exam and was supposed to appear for boards this year. Teachers asked him not to do that. The student of Delhi Government School, who loves studying Hindi, said no one from his school, teachers or classmates, came to meet him. Only his local friends inquire about his health. “I lost a year in school, but I am an optimistic person,” he says with a smile.
Life saved, but riot takes it toll on mental health
Lokesh Kumar and his wife Poonam, aged 45 and 40, are residents of Hardevpuri. They suffered critical injuries after falling off their two-wheeler and being attacked by a mob at night while returning from a wedding on February 24. Both had deep cuts in the stomach. It was so bad that their intestine and organs had come out.
“They are otherwise fine now. But the trauma has been more on the mental side. Both went into depression. Mother is still scared to step outside,” said their son.
Lost right hand, hopeful of getting justice one day
Mohammad Akram Khan, 23, lost his right arm in the riots. “I was being chased and suddenly hit by something. Not a bullet, but a small bomb. The blast was so strong that half of right hand was destroyed. I was lying on the road and dragged myself to a lane where fellow Muslims pulled me up. I cannot recollect the rest. It was after regained senses doctors said they had amputated my hand,” he says in an angry tone.
A tailor by profession, Akram has been provided with a prosthetic right hand but it’s not much help. More than losing a hand, having no source of income bothers him more. The police didn’t even register an FIR, by the way. “I know some of those who attacked me. But police said mine was an accident. I have taken the matter to court,” he adds.
Sent to mortuary by police, doctors found him alive
“He is alive, that is enough for us. He was found by police in such a condition that they didn’t even bother to take him for treatment and sent him to the mortuary. Suddenly, his hand moved and doctors realised he is alive. They made all efforts to save his life, but no one noticed how badly his eyes were hit. He was on a ventilator for 17 days. After gaining sense, he said he cannot see anything. We went to an eye specialist but it was too late,” says Sameer Khan, brother of Shahrukh.
A video of Shahrukh attacked by a mob was widely circulated on social media. Of those who had attacked him, one was arrested last year. Doctors have advised Shahrukh to stay away from direct sun rays. “I cannot bear bright light. It hurts my eyes,” Shahrukh says, languishing in a dark corner of his room. After a pause, he adds: “Life changed in a year. Gussa toh aata hai... lekin kya faeda, meri kismat mein thaa aankhein khona. Bas dua karna (I feel angry, but what’s the use? It was my fate to lose my eyes. Just pray for me).”
Truth hijacked to serve political interests, save BJP leaders: Brinda Karat
CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat alleged that there has been a deliberate subversion of justice as truth has been hijacked to serve political interests and to save BJP leaders. She said that BJP Kapil Mishra, accused of making inflammatory speeches ahead of the riot, has the temerity to say that if required, he would do it again.
“This shows how the government in power has given protection to its leaders who gave inflammatory speeches.” she added.
The left party has demanded an independent, impartial probe into the Delhi Riots. It said that the role of the police has to be questioned and asked how was the capital was allowed to burn for five days under the eye of the Home Minister