A day after an Eidgah in Mustafabad was converted into a relief camp for those affected by the riots in Northeast Delhi, hundreds of families seeking shelter lined up outside the gates. Among them were 28-year-old Kadijah Khan and her five children, whose house in Shiv Vihar was among the many that were burnt down during the violence.
Holding her one-year-old baby, who suffered burn injuries on his leg, she said: “We were sitting inside our house when I saw a mob throwing petrol bombs and lighting cylinders. I was horrified, my husband wasn’t home. I took my five children and rushed to the terrace. We waited for them to leave but they kept throwing petrol bombs, one of them hit Shazdah on his left leg. Our neighbours helped us and we managed to escape to Chaman Park. A doctor treated Shazdah there. He has a fever and he hardly sleeps. My husband is still staying at his friend’s place. We have nothing left.”
While her daughters picked up new clothes from a pile kept outside tents set up by volunteers, Khan tried to get her baby to sleep. Others in the camp who came from Shiv Vihar and Chaman Park had similar stories to share.
Shiba (28), a resident of Chaman Park, sat with her sisters-in-law and children on a mat and waited for lunch. Her mother-in-law Sahiba (60) was talking to her three sons. The family of 12 had to flee after a mob burnt down their shop and home.
“On February 25, my husband rushed home at 8 pm and told us that a mob shouting slogans was outside. Soon, we saw our shop being set on fire. We were scared and tried to hide in a room but the men had set our house on fire as well. We ran through the back door… I was right behind my sister-in-law Reshma when a man caught hold of my hair and pulled me. Another joined him and they threatened to kill me. I cried and begged for my life, I told them I have two children and that I am not part of any movement or protest. After some time, they let me go, but I was hit with stones and bricks. I joined my family, who were waiting outside the lane. We then went to Reshma’s house in Sangam Vihar and stayed there for four days,” said Shiba. She said that though the camp has all the facilities, she misses home.
While the government has set up camps in Shahdara and other areas, several riot-affected people stayed with their friends or families in Chaman Park, Mustafabad and other areas before they found out about the relief centres.
The Eidgah camp was set up by the Waqf Board in association with the Delhi government. The government said more than a thousand people have been accommodated so far in 24 hours.
Multiple tents have been set up under which carpets and mattresses are laid out. Outside the tents, a space has been demarcated for people to sit and eat. Food is cooked by a few volunteers and groceries are sent by a few NGOs and donors.
The area is divided into three parts — one for men, second for women and the third for doctors and volunteers. Doctors from Holy Family Hospital and different welfare associations have set up mini-camps inside the Eidgah to give out medicines and treat the injured. Around 50 metres outside the camp are portable toilets for men and women.
On Tuesday, people brought trucks filled with food, groceries, water, toiletries and clothes, which were checked by volunteers before being distributed.
One of the volunteers, Mustafabad resident Ruby Khan, said, “We helped set up tents and bring food and other items. There are a lot of people here, we have to maintain records. A few of them need daily medication and we assist them. Today, we made roti and mutton for lunch. We will also give milk to the children.”
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