Burnt houses, shops, vehicles and deserted lanes. There is not a single resident anywhere in sight. What used to be the bustling colony of northeast Delhi’s Shiv Vihar is now virtually a ghost town. The scenes of utter destruction make it hard to believe that it is a neighbourhood in the country’s capital. Shiv Vihar is the worst-affected locality in the large-scale violence that erupted on Monday between people demonstrating for and against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and has left more than 40 people dead and over 100 still in hospital with injuries.
Mobs came and torched anything and everything they found, witnesses say. The hundreds of families that were forced to flee their burning homes and rioters have now moved to the nearby area of Indira Vihar where residents have graciously turned their homes into shelters.
40-year-old Mumtaz Begum and her family was attacked with acid by rioters. She says, “We were all at home when the rioters came. They threw acid and it fell on my husband’s face. My 20-year-old daughter Anam was standing next to him. The acid also fell on my daughter’s face. We saved ourselves somehow and ran to the mosque and spent all night there. I am still in those clothes in which I ran. We dialled 100, but no one came.”
28-year-old Shahbano is in one of the shelters with her 15-day-old son and is scared about the future of the family. She said, “For days there was violence outside the house. We kept all lights off so that the rioters don’t get to know that we are inside. I feared my child would wake up and they would hear his cries and attack us. When they burnt the house next to us, we ran for our lives and later they burnt our house too. I don’t know what will happen now. We have nothing left.”
It is people like 50-year-old Nafees Ahmad Saifi who opened up their homes and are now saving these people. He said, “I saw the violence and how these families are in need. So offered help. I shifted my own family to the other floors of the house and this whole hall on ground floor is now for these displaced families.”
On Saturday, medical aid teams and members of the Delhi Minority Commission also reached such houses and assessed the damage that had been caused in the violence-affected areas. Anastasia Gill, Member of Delhi Minority Commission, said, “Right now we can see the wide-scale of damage. I am a Catholic nun also. We are collaborating with Holy Family Hospital to send ambulances and medical aid over here. First priority is medical aid. Second is to provide food for displaced families for next few weeks. Third we will plan rehabilitation of families.”