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Monday, April 12, 2021

Northeast Delhi riots, one year later: For women left behind, future uncertain

From having to take up a job as a domestic help to depending on in-laws for a paltry sum to run the house — women who lost their husbands say they have barely been able to get their lives back on track over the past year.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: March 2, 2021 5:53:12 pm
Northeast Delhi riot victims, women who lost their husbands, Delhi riot death toll, Delhi news, Indian express newsMeena, Zakir’s mother, outside her home in Mustafabad. (Photo: Praveen Khanna)

From having to take up a job as a domestic help to depending on in-laws for a paltry sum to run the house — women who lost their husbands say they have barely been able to get their lives back on track over the past year. The second of a series that tracks families of 53 victims of the Northeast Delhi riots:

Aash Mohd (32), labourer

He was stabbed to death by a mob while on his way to work on February 28 and his body was found on March 9. The family has received Rs 10 lakh compensation. Aash is survived by his wife and three children — aged 10, 8 and 5 — and a younger brother. The family still stays in Dayalpur.

His wife Sahiba said, “We have got two scholarships for my children. My youngest daughter can’t speak and was undergoing treatment at a hospital, but after her father’s death, I have not been able to continue that. I am trying to get a job; maybe at the mahila samiti or sewing.”

Nine people have been arrested in the case.

Prem Singh (27), Rickshaw puller

He was stabbed to death on February 25. The family says two people have been arrested, and they have received Rs 10 lakh from the government and Rs 6 lakh from other organisations. The family continues to live in Brijpuri. Singh is survived by his younger brother, mother, wife and four children aged 10, 4, 3 and eight months old.

Sunita, his wife, said, “One of our children was born after his death. Prem’s younger brother doesn’t have a job. My children are young so I couldn’t work initially, but now I have taken up a job as a domestic help.”

Rahul Solanki (26), Student

He was shot in the neck and killed on February 24 when he stepped out of his home to buy milk and groceries. Eight people have been arrested and the family has received Rs 10 lakh as compensation. Solanki is survived by his family of six including his parents, two siblings, uncle and his wife.

The family, which lived in Babu Nagar for 30 years, has now shifted next to Karawal Nagar police station, after allegedly receiving threats to vacate.

Solanki’s father Hari Singh Solanki said the last year has been extremely difficult. “Soon after Rahul’s death, my wife became paralysed. My brother will soon need a kidney transplant. I also have breathing issues and have continuous joint pain which makes it difficult to walk long distances. We are just counting moments till death arrives at our doorstep too,” he said. Solanki’s demand is that Rajdhani School, where his son was shot, be closed down.

Bhure Ali (35), beldaar (labourer)

Ali was beaten to death on February 27-28 and his body was dumped in a canal. His family said they identified it on March 3 at RML Hospital, and have so far received Rs 10 lakh compensation. Md Rafiq, Ali’s younger brother, said the family still lives in Loni. Ali is survived by his parents, two children and a brother; his wife died six years ago.

Rafiq said the past year has been particularly challenging because they tried to get a status report from the police, but don’t know anything about the case. The family can’t afford a lawyer: “I have gone to Gokulpuri police station several times, but police told us the case is with the Crime Branch and didn’t give us any details. At the Crime Branch office, we didn’t get anything. Now we want to just live peacefully. I am trying to earn money for Bhure’s kids. My parents are old and can’t work.” Police said nine people have been arrested in the case.

Jamaluddin (35), Bakery owner

He was with two others when a mob attacked him on February 27. He died on March 3 at a hospital. The family says they received Rs 10 lakh compensation and have now shifted to Loni since they didn’t feel safe in Delhi, nor could they afford rent there.

Jamaluddin is survived by his three brothers, parents, wife and four children.

Md Afroz, Jamaluddin’s brother-in-law, said, “We had to shift. All compensation money went into building our new place. Our bakery was shut after the riots. I now do small labour work. My brothers don’t support the children and our sister.”

No arrest has been made in this case.

Mursalen (26), Factory worker, scrap dealer

He went missing from his home on February 25, following which the family checked three morgues and police lockups. His body was taken out of a canal on March 12, with his family saying he was beaten to death. The family received Rs 10 lakh compensation, and they still live in Indira Vihar.

Mursalen is survived by his father, four siblings, wife and three kids aged seven, five and two. Hafizuddin, his brother, said, “I got a job and take care of the children now. Nargis doesn’t have a job, she takes care of the kids at home, while other family members don’t help much.” Nine people have been arrested.

Arshad Raza (22), Mobile repair shop worker

On February 26, Arshad was coming back from work when a mob attacked him at Karawal Nagar toll. His body was found at GTB hospital on March 2. The family received Rs 10 lakh compensation and has since shifted from Karawal Nagar to Loni as they didn’t want to live in the same locality. Arshad is survived by six sisters, three brothers and parents.

Nasim Alam (50), his father, said. “Police said they haven’t arrested anyone. We don’t feel safe in Delhi. I have difficulty seeing because of diabetes, so I can’t work. Nobody is earning at our home and the compensation isn’t enough. We need help; Arshad used to earn for the entire house.”

Mohd Furkan (30), Did handicraft work and ran a godown

He was shot dead on February 24 when he went out to get cheese for his children. His body was found the same day but his wife was informed of his death three days later. Furkan is survived by his brother, wife and two children. The family has received Rs 10 lakh compensation.

Firdaus, his wife, lives with their children at their home in Kardampuri, but says her in-laws want her to leave and haven’t provided her the compensation money, instead giving her Rs 10,000 a month to buy ration, pay school fees and run the family. She said, “My in-laws want me to go back to my parents. But I don’t want to leave. I feel alone now. I can’t sew or cook well so I don’t have a job, Furkan’s brother Imran looks after everything.”

Police have filed a chargesheet against four persons but Firdaus claims they know two of the accused and they would not have killed Furkan.

Md Muddassar (35), Plastic scrap work

On February 25, he had gone to Crescent School to pay the fee of one of his children when riots broke out. He went to his friend’s house and stayed there. He was shot dead when he stepped out the next day.

The family received Rs 10 lakh compensation and scholarships for three children.

Muddassar is survived by his wife and eight children, all girls, aged between one and 15. His youngest daughter was born 17 days after his death.

His family still lives in Mustafabad. Imrana (34), his wife, said, “I never had to worry though we have eight kids. Now, I am all alone. I opened a cosmetic shop but need more resources to run it successfully. My brother-in-law gives me some money to run our house and take care of the children but it’s not enough. I don’t have much support from my in-laws because I have girls. I wish to see them study.”

Shaban (25), Welder

He had left his home in Bhagirathi Vihar on February 24 to pick up a welding machine at Chandbagh. Later in the evening, his family members were informed he had been shot in the leg, and succumbed to his injuries days later.

His brother Faizan (24), who runs a purse making unit in the area, said his father wanted to marry all three of his sons at the same time in April last year. Now, their 15-year-old sister’s mental condition has deteriorated. “She keeps thinking of Shaban’s death,” Faizan said.

The family got Rs 10 lakh compensation, but that money was spent paying off Shaban’s debts. “Some people asked for more money, with interest. My father told me we should not keep debts of a dead man,” he said. Police have not made any arrests or filed a chargesheet in the case.

Zakir (27), Welder

Zakir used to run a welding unit with his brother, Gulfam, at Old Mustafabad and had left to pray at a local mosque when rioters attacked the place. His brother was later informed that Zakir succumbed to his injuries after the attack on the mosque.

His mother, Meena, mostly stays alone inside their house, occasionally pointing to empty spaces. “Even his pillows were not left behind. I am alone now,” she said.

Meena feels embittered as Zakir’s wife remarried around two months ago, and claims she left with the compensation of Rs 12 lakh from government and private donors. His wife refused to comment. Gulfam said, “My brother’s death has made us lonelier.”

Musharraf (30), Driver

He was allegedly pulled out of his home in Bhagwati Vihar, beaten with steel rods and thrown into a fire on February 25. His wife Mallika and their three children witnessed the incident. Mallika says she escaped by putting sindoor on her forehead.

The family of four had moved to UP’s Loni after the riots but has now shifted to Gokulpuri. “Nothing was left in our house after the riots. Everything was either broken or stolen. We had to move,” she said.

They received Rs 10 lakh as compensation but their financial situation is still dire. “My eldest daughter was 18 so I got her married using that money. But I still have two children aged four and 13 to look after. I used to work in factories but ever since the pandemic, no one is giving me a job. The compensation money will soon run out,” she said.

A chargesheet has been filed in the case and nine people have been arrested so far.

Written by Amil Bhatnagar, Anand Mohan J, Aranya Shankar, Jignasa Sinha, Mahender Singh Manral, Sourav Roy Barman and Sukrita Baruah

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