Updated: February 7, 2018 7:13:28 am
Veer Bahadur has made a number of desperate phone calls to his employer Sardar Ali Khan. The 25-year-old is in dire need of money —- the shop at which he worked in Kasganj was set ablaze by a mob following the death of a youth last month. On January 27, a mob set ablaze vehicles and shops belonging to the Muslim community at Ghantaghar Chowk in Kasganj following the death of Abhishek Gupta. Most of the shops that were gutted employed helpers from the Hindu community. Bahadur’s story resembles those of at least 20 workers belonging to the Hindu community who were employed at five shops owned by Muslims, all gutted.
Speaking to The Indian Express over the phone, Veer Bahadur said, “I worked at Baba Shoe Company for seven years. I got Rs 180 per day, and lived hand to mouth. Now I don’t know what to do. I have to look for another job.”
Sardar Ali Khan, the 50-year-old owner of Baba Shoe Company, has not gone to his shop since January 26 evening. “Bahadur called me several times asking for money… I can give him Rs 500, but he has to look for other jobs. Goods worth Rs 8 lakh were destroyed. How will I rebuild the shop again?” he said. He added that he had employed six people, four of them Hindus. He recalled the tense situation after Gupta’s death. “A mob tried to set my shop on fire. I was pulled out and beaten… The authorities should have acted… It takes generations to build a business, everything looks bleak now,” he said. The government should provide interest-free loans to those affected, he added.
Next to Baba Shoe Company is the gutted three-storey Sherwani Boot Shop. Owner Mansoor Ahmed, 60, had spent most of his savings on his wife’s treatment, but she died two years ago. “I am still repaying the debt undertaken for the treatment. My shop had goods worth Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1.75 lakh cash,” he said. He employed eight workers, six of them Hindus. Two of them, Babu Ram and Rahul, had called him for money, he said. “I can’t pay them,” Ahmed added.
While the fate of his business is unclear, he hoped his workers would help him. Babu Ram has been working with him for 20 years, and got a monthly salary of Rs 20,000. “Berozgaar ho gaye bas ab. Jitna hoga Ahmed Sahab ki madad karenge, lekin hume bhi pet chalana hai… jin logon ke dukaane jalaeein unko pata hi nahi is dukaan ke zayadatar customer Hindu hain (We have become jobless. We will help Ahmed Sahab as much as we can, but we also have to feed ourselves… Those whose shops were burnt don’t know that most of their customers are Hindus),” he said.
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