Families lie huddled together on mattresses as a volunteer in an orange vest goes around distributing milk in Shri Ram Colony’s community centre.
According to Delhi government officials, 42 families from the riot-affected areas have taken shelter at the government-run facility in the last two days. Families say their houses were burnt and they are now on the streets, having to rely on temporary relief before they figure out how to rebuild their lives.
Mehboob Hasan, the Imam of Mubarak Masjid in Shahdara’s Ghedi Mendu, alleged he was inside the mosque following evening prayers when a mob attacked with stones. Hasan said he hid inside for half an hour, and that both the mosque and a madrasa were damaged. “I have a house close to the mosque but I am afraid to go back,” he said.
Mehboob is currently staying at the shelter with his son, while other family members are at a relative’s place.
At the shelter, the families have been provided with a mattress along with a pair of spare clothing. Volunteers distribute three meals which include dal, roti and a vegetable. Tea and snacks are also distributed while children are provided with bananas. The second floor of the centre has been reserved for children and women.
Mehtab, who is at the centre with four daughters-in-law, including one with a two-year-old boy, said that when his home was attacked, they “made several calls to the police but no one responded”.
“My sons somehow got us out and we fled immediately. We stayed at a relative’s place and came here two days ago. We are at peace here but I don’t know how long we can be here,” Mehtab said.
According to officials, the advertisement for the shelter was put out in newspapers for families whose homes have been destroyed or damaged.
“We want to tell people that it is an option for those who have no place to go. We are not requesting people who are already at their homes, but those who have nowhere to go. The centre is safe for them and arrangements for food are being made,” said an official.
Several locals have to make do with a single pair of clothing that they were wearing at the time of attack since they could take any material from the house while fleeing.
Many say they will not return until there is adequate security in their locality.
“There is too much tension in the area. We need to go back and rebuild our lives but it is not possible at the moment. Even going back to our house seems like a nightmare. We need security in the area. Our money was also looted so we have nothing right now,” said Mohammad Naushad, a daily wage labourer whose house was destroyed.
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