Delhi riots: More than 1,000 people from Shiv Vihar given shelter in a few homes in Chaman Park     

More than 2000 men, women and children from Shiv Vihar were given shelter at a home in Chaman Park near the Medina Masjid

Delhi riots: More than 1,000 people from Shiv Vihar given shelter in a few homes in Chaman Park      

Ashlin Mathew

There are more than 50 women huddled in a three-storeyed house in Chaman Park. There are more in the building, some have stepped out for a walk, a few others are praying in another room. They are of all ages; from a 10-year-old girl to a 70-year-old woman. The one thing they all have in common is that they have all fled from their homes in neighbouring Shiv Vihar when the orchestrated violence began to break out in parts of northeast Delhi. Shiv Vihar is one of the worst-affected areas.

“We fled on the February 24 early morning at around 5 am. We saw at night that acid bottles and Molotov cocktails were being hurled at homes nearby. Several of us work in factories in Chaman Park and live in Shiv Vihar. We didn’t know where else to go. Those who had relatives in nearby areas went there, several of us who had no one came here,” said 45-year-old Salma.

“When the violence broke out, my father was not home. He had gone over to an uncle’s house for some work a few days ago. There were just us women and we had to stay alive. We were told to get out and go towards Chaman Park. More than 25,000 of us got out of that area in batches that night. Only Allah could have kept us alive,” stressed Ruksar, who is a primary school teacher.

Delhi riots: More than 1,000 people from Shiv Vihar given shelter in a few homes in Chaman Park      

More than 2000 men, women and children from Shiv Vihar were given shelter at a home in Chaman Park near the Medina Masjid. Initially, they had all come to the Madina Mosque at Chaman Park, but they were directed to this house. Four days later, several have left and there are at least a few hundred of them still in the building. None of those in the house knows the owner Furkan Malik and he continued to stay in the shadows. There are at least three houses in the area where people are being sheltered.

“We fled with nothing in the middle of the night. We live in Gali. No. 10 in Shiv Vihar. It was not possible to run with bags and at that moment only your life matters. WE were all worried if we would get out alive. We are thankful we have. Here, people have given us clothes, food, shelter without taking away our dignity. We are all middle-class people who worked hard to earn a living. Now, this government wants to take away that too,” explained Zarina.

One of those who fled from her house is 20-year-old Razia, who is handicapped. “I was able to escape only because of the kindness of people in this room. I am paralysed from my waist downwards and I move about crawling. Several people took turns to carry me on their backs to bring me here. Otherwise, I do not know what would have happened to me. Several houses in my Gali have been burnt. I am not sure if mine has been as none of us has gone back to check,” said a worried Razia.

“I am worried about my goats in the house. I had left them on the top floor and now it has been three days. They are like my children and I don’t know if they have been killed or they would have starved to death. Yesterday, a young boy said he would check, but he was beaten up as soon as he went near the area. Now, I’m worried about the young man too,” underscored 60-year-old Fatima, who pleaded with the journalist to check on her pets.

The volunteers at the mosque ensure the people at the house face no troubles. By evening, just as the prayers got over, there were juice and light snacks being distributed. It was brought in a small tempo truck and the people from the nearby Madina Mosque helped distribute it to those in the house. But, it’s not at all easy.

In the afternoon, the Delhi Police had stopped Ashraf Ali at the entrance of Mustafabad who was transporting cooked food to this shelter. “I have been pleading with the police to let me go. The biriyani in the degs (a big cooking vessel) will turn bad in this weather. We are coming from Old Seelampur and this was made by Pappu Bawarchi. Let the police question all of us, but just let the food go. They are accusing me of transporting men. The two men with me are here to help me with unloading it,” explained Ali.

“He has to have a permission letter to transport food. We cannot let anyone just go. Everything has a process, and this is us just following due process,” said Shubham Gupta, the ACP in the area. Gupta went on to joke that if he allowed the temp, he would lose his job.

Eventually after one-and-a-half hours Ali was allowed to transport those at Chaman Park. “The Mustafabad councillor Maroof had to speak to the DCP-Crime Rajan Bhagat for them to allow us to take the food. How can they stop us from helping those in need? Several people contributed from their meagre earnings to ensure we can feed those at Chaman Park. IS there no humanity left with the police,” asked a distraught Ali. He underscored that the police were still stopping many vehicles carrying relief materials to those affected.

But, Ali stressed that he was not the only one helping. “There are many others too. I am only doing what I can within my capacity. We should all be doing what we can.”

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Published: 29 Feb 2020, 1:09 PM