Updated: March 3, 2020 10:01:15 am
Inside narrow lanes singed by communal riots, relief and recovery vans have started rolling in, along with teams of the local administration assessing damage and handing out compensation forms to people.
Having realised the futility of converting night-shelters into relief camps, a large, dedicated tent has also been pitched, with a capacity to take in at least 1,500 people. A week after the city witnessed violence that left 47 dead, efforts by the administration have started to take a cohesive shape.
What, however, continues to elude the impoverished working class neighbourhoods is a sustained political outreach, leaving members of both two communities more distanced than ever before.
Residents across the area — be it Mustafabad, Karawal Nagar or Babarpur — lamented that as the violence raged, and then ebbed, no prominent AAP leader, “jinko humne vote diya”, showed up. Even local MLAs were missing from action, people said.
The newly elected MLA of Mustafabad, Haji Yunus, admitted he has been to Shiv Vihar, among the worst-hit areas, “only once so far”. “The point is there’s no one living in Shiv Vihar. Families have left and taken shelter in relief camps. I am making myself available there. On the day of the violence, I was in the Assembly,” he said.
Over two days, The Indian Express found families coming back to the area, even if to rummage through charred remains.
Northeast Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari has so far been absent from the ground.
The few politicians and top administrative functionaries who came appeared to be in a hurry. During the day, Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava spent some time in Shiv Vihar. Lt-Governor Anil Baijal covered certain parts of the area in a whirlwind trip, which left out the interiors.
Before the commissioner arrived, a police officer walked up to Gulzar Ahmed, whose house was looted and torched during the violence, saying, “Are you satisfied with our response? When the commissioner and
Ahmed, flanked by his neighbour Babita Shrivastava, kept waiting as the police commissioner arrived and left in less than five minutes.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia have so far visited the strife-torn areas once, on February 26, after being prodded by the Delhi High Court.
On Monday, Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam visited certain parts of Johripur, Bhagirathi Vihar, Shiv Vihar Pulia, while Labour Minister and AAP Delhi convenor Gopal Rai restricted his visit to the Eidgah relief camp, which started functioning Monday with the assistance of the Delhi Waqf Board and NGOs such as the Muslim Council of India.
The apparent absence of a healing touch has also meant that communal wounds remain open. “We are now suspicious of our neighbours; what if they were among the arsonists?” said a 18-year-old in Shiv Vihar.
At the Kabir Nagar neighbourhood of Babarpur, the constituency of Gopal Rai, a group of young men sat in a discussion: “He (Rai) has not come here even once. This is what we get after electing him?”
On Monday, Kejriwal tweeted that the family of Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma, who was killed in the riots, would be given Rs 1 crore, apart from a government job for one member of the family.
An AAP leader said: “The mother of victim Faizan (seen in a video being made to sing the national anthem by men in police gear) was handed over a cheque of Rs 1 lakh today. We will give the remaining Rs 9 lakh later as families of the dead are entitled to Rs 10 lakh. Families of deceased minors will get Rs 5 lakh. Injured are getting up to Rs 2 lakh, while those whose properties have been damaged are getting up to Rs 5 lakh. There is no discrimination whatsoever. Leaders have also started visiting the riot-hit areas.”
Some of the injured have still not received compensation as their names did not feature on the list on Sunday. The families said only those who had filled out a form from the Delhi government a few days ago were on the list. Among them was Sonu (26), a resident of Shiv Vihar, who has sustained a bullet injury in the left arm. His mother Manju said, “We couldn’t fill the form. Lawyers assisting people here have now asked us to visit the DM office in Seemapuri, where we can get some help.”
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