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Home > News > India News > Article > The 2020 Delhi riot victims still awaiting compensation

The 2020 Delhi riot victims still awaiting compensation

Updated on: 16 April,2024 02:43 AM IST  |  Delhi
Diwakar Sharma |

Say they have lost hope after being made to run around for years, just want arrested relatives released

The 2020 Delhi riot victims still awaiting compensation

The damaged cell phone shop of Sarfaraz at Shiv Vihar, after the Delhi riots in 2020

It has been more than four years but hundreds of victims of the 2020 Delhi riots are still waiting for compensation from the authorities concerned. The victims—most of them living a hand-to-mouth existence—said they visit the Delhi government and Delhi Waqf Board offices, as well as several government officials to check on the status of their monetary claims, but to no avail. “The victims are sandwiched between the tussle of the state and Central governments,” said a social activist.

The victims have lost all hope of getting any compensation. “All politicians are alike,” said Mazhar Khan, 34, whose cell phone repair shop near Shiv Vihar Tiraha (or junction) was set ablaze in February 2020, causing him to lose nearly Rs 7 lakh. “There were hundreds of mobile handsets in the shop when the rioters set it on fire during the riots. Everything was burnt in front of our eyes but we couldn’t do anything as the rioters came in large numbers,” Khan told mid-day.

Shiv Vihar Tiraha, the epicentre of the clash
Shiv Vihar Tiraha, the epicentre of the clash

According to Khan, there were hopes of relief after the Delhi government announced compensation for the victims, but nothing has come out of it. “I thought the government would pay us… but all politicians are alike,” he said, adding that he had visited several Delhi government offices, the Delhi Waqf Board and the district magistrate office several times in this regard but officials “only beat around the bush”. “It is not practically possible for me to leave work to go to the desks of adamant babus to request them to compensate us. I have given up now, and instead, I’m focusing on my work to earn a living,” he said.

Khan, who had employed around half a dozen workers at his cell phone repair shop before the 2020 Delhi riots, is now forced to work at a neighbouring shop to earn R15,000 per month to run his house. “I would earn over Rs 50,000 per month before the riots. But the scenario changed. I am now working at a mobile repair shop as I am married and need to run the house. It is sad that the government does not care about poor people who they only use as a vote bank.”

Another victim, Sarfaraz—whose cell phone shop was allegedly looted and then set ablaze—told mid-day that he incurred losses amounting to R6 lakh. “My shop was looted and damaged, but the Delhi government has not given me any compensation till now. I have shown every piece of evidence to prove how my shop was damaged, but my efforts have been futile,” lamented Sarfaraz.

Sarfaraz showing a compensation form on his cell phone, which he filled twice. Pics/Diwakar Sharma
Sarfaraz showing a compensation form on his cell phone, which he filled twice. Pics/Diwakar Sharma

According to Sarfaraz, a few months ago he was told that victims would have to fill out fresh forms to seek compensation. “I immediately filled up the form again and submitted it, but received only Rs 10,000. Why did the Delhi government announce a compensation of up to Rs 5 lakh if they are not willing to help us? Victims are forced to make several rounds of government offices. This is harassment,” he added.

Meanwhile, a local social activist Shahrukh Prince Saifi alias Prince told mid-day that an old paan shop of Shahnawaz Ansari alias Shanu was set on fire by the rioters who arrived in the Shiv Vihar Tiraha area of Mustafabad in North East Delhi from nearby villages. “Shanu’s house is located in the area which is a cluster dominated by Hindus. After damaging his two paan shops, the rioters destroyed his house and decamped with his belongings,” said Prince.

“Shanu is the victim of the 2020 Delhi riots, but the cops have falsely implicated him in multiple cases. He is languishing in jail since 2020,” he added. Shanu’s mother Shameena Khatoon said that no politician had visited her to know of their condition. “My son was arrested on March 7, 2020, and the cops did not allow us to meet him. The cops told my husband Rashid that Shanu had been implicated in many cases. The cops also showed him a huge pile of case papers against my son. Affected by the tremendous pressure, Rashid breathed his last on June 6, 2020,” said Shameena.

Shameena Khatoon, mother of Shahnawaz Ansari alias Shanu who has been jailed
Shameena Khatoon, mother of Shahnawaz Ansari alias Shanu who has been jailed

According to Shameena, Shanu didn’t take part in the rioting as was busy at the time with preparations for his sister’s wedding. “The police didn’t listen to us and arrested him for no reason. He has been acquitted in several cases but is still in jail,” she said.

Shameena alleged that after their two paan shops were damaged and their house looted, the rioters tried to cause an explosion at the house using the LPG cylinder. “However, the neighbours discouraged them as it would have been devastating for them as well. Forget about the compensation, none of the politicians even came to meet us,” she said. “We don’t want any compensation, just release my innocent son.”

Meanwhile, Prince said, “During the pandemic, I was out making arrangements for an ambulance but the Delhi police falsely implicated me under the Arms Act. None of the politicians came forward to help. Politicians across parties have miserably failed to improve the living conditions of people residing in North East Delhi, where drugs are being openly sold.”

According to Prince, youngsters in the area openly consume drugs and there are no proper schools, hospitals or even roads. “Infrastructure is in a dilapidated state as no local MLA or MP visits the area to check on the living conditions. Nullahs are overflowing, roads are in a tattered condition and encroachments are rampant, but officials are least bothered about the constituency. Why has the sitting MP not focused on ending the drug menace in the last five years? What has stopped him?”

Prince added that he would convince voters to think twice before using their voting rights on May 25. He said that the North East Delhi constituency, where no development work has taken place, is dominated by Purvanchali and Muslim people. Around 53 people were killed in the sectarian violence which was sparked by a backlash to protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in February 2020. Two on-duty cops were also killed in the violence. Houses and shops were set ablaze by the rioters who allegedly also looted several homes. The rioters also set the entire Gokalpuri Tyre Market on fire.

At the time, local social activists accused the Central government and Delhi police of not being prompt in their action, allowing the situation to flare up over the next few days. However, the tech-savvy cops in the national capital had been using advanced tools to identify the rioters. After the violence was brought under control, the Delhi police filed over 750 FIRs and subsequently arrested more than 2,600 rioters. Sources in the Delhi Police said that its sleuths had used databases of e-vahan and driving licence registrations to trace around 150 accused in connection with the communal violence.

Approx no of people killed during the riots

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