NEW DELHI: One of the lanes of Bhagirathi Vihar near the police post in Gokulpuri leads to a newly constructed two-storey house, which came up after the old structure was burnt down during the Delhi riots. The fresh paint of blue cannot hide the scars of the family which saw their house of over two decades being burnt down in front of their eyes.
As Dinesh Yadav became the first person to be convicted in the cases related to the riots of 2020, 75-year-old Manori, her daughter Shahida Begum and two grandsons looked more worried than relieved. Yadav was part of the mob that vandalised and put their house ablaze on the fateful night of February 25 nearly two years ago.
“The news of the first conviction in Delhi riots does not make me feel any better. I am rather stressed and tensed now because we never named or blamed anyone or saw anyone in specific vandalizing our home. I am worried that the convict may return after his release from the jail to harm us again,” said Manori’s grandson Ashiq Malik. “This is something I cannot even dare to share it with my grandmother or mother. I don’t want to remind them of the haunted memories of that day, because of which both are mostly confined to bed.”
“Meri nani kehti hain, ke Allah sab dekh raha hai aur gunahgaaron ko saza vahi dega, hum kaun hote hain kisi ko saza dene wale. (My maternal grandmother says that the Allah knows everything and he will punish the culprits Himself. We are no one to punish anyone,” said Ashiq.
Recalling the night of horror, Ashiq said, “The rioters did not even leave a small jar of salt in that frenzy, leave aside the cash, our buffalo worth `1 lakh, some important documents including Class 10 results of my younger brother Asif. Somehow, the rioters couldn’t break only one door lock that belonged to my grandmother’s mother, but they left it damaged.
“It has been two years but we have failed to overcome that tragic night especially my mother who saw the rioters brutally beating hapless people after stripping them of their pants and throwing them in the runnels. The sight affected her mind so much that she has been on bed since then. She became so ill that we had to send her to a mental hospital (for treatment). She can barely walk by herself even to the washroom,” said a teary Ashiq.
Long after the ambers of the riot had doused, the Delhi government had granted a compensation of Rs 50,000 each to the victims of the riots. Ashiq, however, said that the compensation amount was also spent on rebuilding the house and to meet other pressing needs during the lockdown period thanks to Covid.
“We must have seen the worst night of our lives that day, but the days after that have been more tragic — seeing my mother in deteriorating health and my grandmother tragically sleeping with fear in her mind every night. These days, anyone talking loudly in the lane or even a child playing a trumpet on any occasion startles my grandmother,” rued the 24-year-old grandson of Manori.