Over two weeks after riots broke out in several areas of Northeast Delhi, residents are trying to rebuild their lives and homes, but many remain wary of a repeat of the violence. As a result, in Shiv Vihar and Brijpuri, many have decided to “guard” their colonies and lanes by putting up large iron gates. The idea, residents said, is to ensure their homes and property remain safe in the future.
“We don’t want to feel unsafe like we did last month. The violence and destruction was horrifying. We will put up gates at the end of the lane to guard ourselves against future riots or clashes. It will prevent outsiders from coming here and burning down our homes,” said Pankaj Sharma (40), a resident of Brijpuri’s Block-A, while waiting for workers to install an iron gate at the end of his lane. While 53 people were killed in the clashes, Brijpuri saw a mosque and Arun Model Public School being set on fire while dozens of shops were looted.
Mohd Irfan, who lives in Brijpuri’s Block-B, said, “We fled our homes on February 23. When we returned, we saw our shops had been set ablaze and our homes looted. On March 4, we decided to erect a gate at the end of the lane. We created a WhatsApp group and over 100 families pitched in to provide funds and we managed to collect Rs 25,000. We will also try to collect money for CCTV cameras. Mobs won’t be able to jump the gates because we are planning to put iron spikes on top.” He added that neighbouring colonies too have installed gates.
Another resident, Prem Pal, said, “I was inside my shop when a mob entered the area, destroyed streetlights and threw petrol bombs inside houses and shops. It was difficult to keep the mob away from our houses as anyone can come here. My family and I had to stay at a friend’s house for a week. Though there are police teams in the area today, they won’t stay here forever. In their absence, anything can happen. It’s important to keep protesters and anti-national elements away from our houses.”
Residents said they didn’t approach the government for funds to set up the gates and have only applied for compensation for their looted or burnt belongings. Police said rebuilding work in most colonies started 10 days ago.
Meanwhile, police and BSF teams continue to be deployed in riot-hit areas. Burnt vehicles have been cleared from the roads and a complaint booth has been set up at the DCP office in Shahdara.
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