A week after her family was attacked by a violent mob in northeast Delhi’s Shiv Vihar, Mumtaz Begum, 40, returned home to find her shop–her family’s only source of livelihood–burnt to the ground. She started crying uncontrollably upon seeing the remains of the shop that stocked groceries.
On the night of February 25, the mob that attacked her family had not only come armed with sticks and rods but also with acid that left her 52-year-old husband, Mohammad Wakeel, with severe burns on the face and body. “We were on the terrace as stones were being pelted from the streets. Our house was also set on fire. There was so much smoke that we could not see when acid was thrown at us,” said Mumtaz.
Wakeel was later admitted to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP) where doctors have been treating his eyes.
His 20-year-old daughter, Anam, who also suffered blisters on her body in the acid attack, said, “He (Wakeel) has not been able to open his eyes since the attack.”
The family of six along with their two goat kids had managed to escape to the nearby Madina Masjid when the rioters had barged in their premises. When the mosque also come under attack soon after, Mumtaz said she and her family had just one prayer.
“We did not want to be killed by the mob. We prayed that either we come out safe or be buried under the mosque’s debris,” she said.
“We called the police but no one came to help. In fact, later, when we saw the police standing near the drain, I thought it was better not to ask them for any help.”
Shiv Vihar is one of the worst-affected areas in the violence that gripped the northeastern parts of Delhi. Most of the families in the region fled home in the dead of the night to find refuge in nearby areas like Mustafabad, Chaman Park and Babu Nagar as mobs of hundreds torched homes and shops in Shiv Vihar.
When residents returned to their homes, most of them found their houses to be ransacked, looted or burned. Mumtaz, too, who had until now been living in Shiv Vihar for over 30 years, returned after a week to find her shop looted and burned.
Mumtaz asks, “They destroyed everything…How will we live?” It is a sentiment that echoes everywhere in Shiv Vihar now.
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