Malka Begum, 40, unlaces her special shoe to show the leg missing below the knee. It made her the poster woman of the 1989 Bhagalpur riots, which left over 1,000 Muslims dead, but hasn’t got her a job or even a pension.
Malka lost her parents in Chanderi on the town’s outskirts. Sixteen people were sentenced to life on her testimony. She now lives inside the town, in a house built with compensation money and donations. “Some people have been sponsoring the education of my daughter and son in Delhi,” she says.
“Hindu rioters killed my parents and cut my leg, a Muslim soldier married me and deserted me,” she adds.
She says a cousin shares the house and supports her financially. She got compensation in instalments of Rs 2.20 lakh and Rs 7 lakh and divided the second lot among her five siblings. She is upset at a clause that counts widows, widowers and parents, but not daughters, as dependants for a Rs 5,000 pension.
She pleaded with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in 2007 and got a job as a casual worker; it started with Rs 71 per day and went up to Rs 101. Then she was retrenched in 2011 by the then DM. She made another request and says that when she followed it up, she found part of her letter eaten by rats.
She scoffs at the recommendation for a law to return properties to Muslims who had sold them. “First, they should look for real survivors and try to rehabilitate them.”
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