A welder, a generator set trader, a scrap dealer, and a mother of two — all of them ventured out between February 22 and 26, when riots gripped Northeast Delhi, but none of them have returned so far.
Their hearts pounding, family members of those missing have lifted shrouds off the faces of several unidentified bodies over the last two weeks, inside mortuaries and beside nallahs, while some are awaiting reports of DNA tests.
According to police records, between February 22 and 26 at least 15 missing person reports were filed in stations across the district. However, not all missing cases are connected with the riots that have claimed at least 53 lives, police said.
Over the last two days, some families have seen their worst fears come true. Feroz (25), who had gone missing on February 24 from Pusta Road at Karawal Nagar, was found dead on Sunday, a family member said. His family had even pasted ‘missing’ posters across the area.
Mohammad Haroon, father of an 18-year-old, had checked at least 25 bodies in mortuaries before his son was finally found — alive — on Sunday. “He is physically unhurt but mentally a little disturbed. We are still not sure how he went missing,” said Haroon.
Family members of 23-year-old Mohsin, who went missing on February 26, said the Noida resident ran a business of renting out generator sets.
“He was in Karawal Nagar during the riots as four generator sets were rented out to a community centre in the area. Police claim they saw him being set on fire in front of them. Why did they not save him? The DNA test report (from a body suspected to be his), which was supposed to come on Monday, is not out yet,” said his brother Shahrukh.
While Mohsin got married close to three months ago, Shahbaz (22), “jiski shaadi ki baat chal rahi thi”, went missing on February 25. His brother Matloob Alam said Shahbaz, who worked as a welder, had left home at 7 am the same day to get his eyes tested at the Guru Nanak Eye Centre.
“As he worked as a welder, he had to frequently visit eye clinics. Aksar chingari padti thi. On February 24, he complained of severe pain in his eyes. The next morning, he left for the clinic despite our objections. Since then, we have not heard from him,” Alam, employed as a book binder, said.
Since then, the family has been rushing to mortuaries every time there are reports of bodies being found. “On March 8, we went to Gokulpuri after we were told of a body being taken out from a drain. But that was not him. Even on Monday, we checked another unidentified body — it was not Shahbaz,” said Alam.
Mursalin (33), a scrap dealer, went missing on February 25. The father of two last spoke to his wife Nargis at 6 pm. “Since then, his phone is off. We have been to morgues of GTB, RML, and a few other hospitals. Police had also told us to look for him in police lock-ups. We don’t know where else to look for him now,” said his brother Hafizuddin.
The family stays across the Loni border, and the missing complaint has also been filed with the Uttar Pradesh police.
The father-in-law of Farah, who went missing on February 24, said the homemaker had left for a dispensary in the Welcome area, with her son around 10 am.
“We have absolutely no idea where they went… maybe she eloped with someone… it is also possible that something happened during the violence, maybe when they were returning,” her father-in-law said.
The Delhi High Court had on Friday directed all hospitals, under the central as well as the Delhi governments, to videograph post-mortems of all bodies at their mortuaries and preserve them till March 11.
A bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice I S Mehta had also directed the hospitals to collect DNA samples from all bodies. There are at least five unclaimed bodies at the mortuaries of the GTB and RML hospitals currently.
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