Delhi Riots and Pandemic: A Double Whammy for Survivors Waiting for Compensation

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The victims of the riot-hit areas of north-east Delhi are trying to bring their life back to normal. However, the compensation promised by the Delhi government has been inordinately delayed.

GROUND REPORT

Luckily, the relief work done by some non-government organisations (NGOs) has helped the riot-hit families to feed their kids. Their homes ransacked by rioters are now uninhabitable and those who once owned the houses have now become tenants in different neighbourhoods

Mohd Aasif | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — The Delhi government’s performance vis-à-vis compensation promised to survivors of the February riots leaves much to be desired.

The victims of the riot-hit areas of north-east Delhi are trying to bring their life back to normal. Though many of them had suffered heavy losses during the pogrom that left 53 people dead and 400 others injured, some are trying to restart their lives. The countrywide imposition of Covid-19-induced lockdown hit them harder than others.

The compensation promised to the victims by the Delhi government has been inordinately delayed. While some are yet to receive the relief, those who have been lucky to receive the financial aid say the compensation is meagre in comparison to the losses they have suffered.

The relief work done by some non-government organisations (NGOs) has helped the riot-hit families to feed their kids. Their homes ransacked by rioters are now uninhabitable and those who once owned the houses have now become tenants in different neighbourhoods.

Zakir, a resident of Shiv Vihar, the worst-riot hit area adjacent to Uttar Pradesh, said that he was not even getting a house on rent. “Two floors of my house are damaged. Roof of one floor has partially fallen down. It is not inhabitable”, said Zakir, father of four kids, living in the neighbourhood of his relatives.

A relief camp in New Mustafabad in northeastern Delhi catered to the poor victims of communal riots.

“I lost my wife to typhoid forty days ahead of Bakrid and the initial compensation amount has been spent in vain her for her treatment, said Zakir. “She fell after escaping from the burning area and her condition worsened as time passed by”, he added.

The technicalities and the parameters for estimating the loss suffered by a victim are faulty. The damage, as claimed by some of the residents, was approximated as ‘minor’, leading to lowering of the compensation amount. “The rioters blasted four cylinders inside my house. I cannot live in it anymore without proper renovation. Yet, the government officials mentioned the damage as minor”, said Zakir in a complaining tone.

The worst affected by the riots were those who earned their bread and butter through self-employment. Most of them have lost everything in the pogrom. It is a challenge for the victims to segregate the business and domestic losses as most of them were running their businesses from their homes. “The electronic scrap business was my source of income. I cannot continue it without a caretaker for the kids”, said Zakir.

Compensation was nothing but a cruel joke for some. Usman Ali, owner of Delhi Chicken Darbar, a local restaurant at the main road of Gokulpuri Market, told Clarion India that the compensation amount did not cover the damage properly or covered only partially, adding that the amount transferred by the government was negligible.

Rioters vandalised a food outlet  Chicken Corner run by Muslims during the riots.

“When we visited the Sub-Divisional Magistrate’s (SDM) office for compensation, they told us that the amount was already transferred”, said Usman Ali. The officials then asked for the bank statement and showed him the transferred value. It was an amount of Rs 750 only.

The Rs 750 estimated amount for the losses of Delhi Chicken Darbar cannot cover even a single article of the looted restaurant. “I have borrowed Rs 2 lakhs to restart my business here in Gokulpuri”, said Usman Ali, apart from the articles he brought from his another shop at Shahdara which is closed due to coronavirus pandemic.

In the meantime, most of the victims are just keeping their fingers crossed in the hope of receiving compensation for their losses soon. Chand Mohammad, an automobile mechanic, who owns a shop at the Brijpuri Road near Farooqia Mosque, has filed an application for his losses. He has been regularly visiting the SDM’s office but in vain. “The officials tell us that they are currently busy with the coronavirus- related relief work”, he added.

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