In Northeast Delhi’s Shiv Vihar, every lane had at least one family that made bakery goods from small basements and rooms. But the riots that ravaged the area two months ago and the subsequent lockdown have left them without equipment and manpower to run their units.
“After the riots, we were trying to restart our bakery, just like the first time we did 15 years ago. This entire area will have to rebuild from scratch,” said Nadeem Mansoori (22), whose family runs Riyasat Bakery, selling mainly rusks.
During the riots on February 24-25, many residents fled to areas such as Mustafabad, Chaman Park and Babu Nagar. When they returned, many of their houses or shops were reduced to rubble or completely looted.
Mansoori, with his parents and five siblings, fled from home on February 25 to Mustafabad, where they have relatives. “We stayed there for around 20 days. When we returned, we found that all the material required for baking was looted and the machines were broken,” he said.
After availing help from non-profit groups and volunteers, the machines were fixed, but the business remains shut. “Right now there are no earnings, as everything has become very expensive. The sugar we would earlier buy for Rs 1,500-1,600 now costs around Rs 2,000,” said Mansoori. The bakery used to earn them Rs 20,000-30,000 earlier, but now the shop only makes rusks a few hours each day.
“A few bakeries have opened in the last 10-12 days, but there are hardly any customers,” said Mansoori.
Mohammad Guldeen (37) too has had to shut his bakery operation as his staff of seven have returned to their villages in UP. Unable to find help, he now buys baked items from Mustafabad to sell at his shop.
“My family – my wife, two young children, and a nephew – fled our home on February 25. The rioters took everything, including stocks of flour, oil, sugar. Early March, the family returned home, but could not restart business without the staff. If the lockdown ends, hopefully our lives can go on. Maybe the people will come back,” said Guldeen.
Meanwhile, some are slowly picking up the pieces and starting again.
Mukeel Ahmed (50), who owns Prince Bakery, was fortunate as his two employees stayed put while he stayed with relatives in Mustafabad for 20 days. “A few raw items like flour were left behind. There was no money but it was enough for roti,” he said.
Now, his only customers are neighbours and local shops.
“When we came back and tried to restart our business, the lockdown began. A few neighbours buy some things for breakfast, as do a few local shops. Everything is in loss right now,” he said.
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