Shiv Vihar hit twice, first by riots and then by COVID-19 curbs

People are found holed up in their houses or at the most sitting on their doorsteps in riot-hit Shiv Vihar on Thursday.

People are found holed up in their houses or at the most sitting on their doorsteps in riot-hit Shiv Vihar on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Hemani Bhandari

Renovation work at damaged houses stuck due to unavailability of labourers

It has been over a month since Mohammed Qutubuddin went to work. He sews for a living and said that he has been dependent on his neighbours and relatives for basic groceries. First, it was communal riots and now it is COVID-19 outbreak which hit the residents of Shiv Vihar, both monetarily and mentally.

“Aakhri baar kaam par 23 tareek ko gaya tha. Uske baad se kuch nahi kiya. Kamaane ka koi aur zariya bhi nahi hai (The last time I went to work was February 23. Haven’t been able to work after that. There’s no other way of earning also),” said Qutubuddin, who has a family of five to feed and ₹ 2,200 rent to pay.

In the narrow lanes of Shiv Vihar, many houses were found locked. Those still residing said that most of the locked houses were on rent and were either vandalised, looted or burnt. Those living there didn’t return and went on rent at other places.

“One thing that is good now is that there are less people which reduces the chances of Coronavirus,” said Nazar Mohammed, a government school teacher whose house was burnt during the riots.

On Thursday, people were found holed up in their houses or at most, sitting on their doorsteps and that’s how they spend their days.

“Television sets in most houses were looted and hardly one or two houses have been able to buy again. Taking precautions, people mostly stay indoors or come just till the doorstep or sometimes the street. We also maintain distance while talking,” said Ikram Hasan (56) wearing a mask.

Work hit

A few streets ahead resides Mr. Mohammed in a double storey house. His immediate concern is to fix his electricity board and paint the remaining house.

“When BSES workers came, the electricity was temporarily fixed. Only a bulb is working as of now. I had started renovating the house about 10 days ago and brought some material that was required. Painting of half the house is left. Flooring is also left. Because of the curbs, labourers are not coming. I am living here while my wife and kids are living in a rented accommodation on the next street,” he said, adding that so far, he has received ₹50,000 as relief compensation while the rest is yet to arrive.

Mr. Mohammed said that earlier, people with burnt houses in the area didn’t renovate the houses believing that they won’t get compensation if they do so. Now, when these rumours have dispelled, they can’t because of unavailability of resources, he added.

Talking about relief compensation and material, the residents said that they are in dire straits.

“There are two grocery stores nearby for basic necessities. Sometimes, goods are available at the shops. Vegetable prices have gone up to unimaginable levels. The last time we received ration as relief material was on March 20 before the curbs. We can’t hoard supplies because we can’t afford that. We don’t know how to deal with this situation,” said wife of an autorickshaw driver Aslam (45), who did not wish to be named. Aslam has been out of work since riots.

Suman (40) and her husband Satyapal (47) also shared their bit of problems. Their house was also looted during the riots and in the absence of TV, they sat at their doorstep and while away time. Bigger problem for the couple and their family is that their water connection hadn’t been restored because of which they had to move on rent in Johripur.

“We had a combined connection with five other houses. One of those houses was burnt and their connection hasn’t been restored because of which ours also wasn’t. Now it cannot happen because of the curbs. Therefore, we spend the day here and go back late evening,” said Suman.

Fear of attack

CRPF men were seen guarding the streets and when asked about it, Mr. Mohammed said, “Hindus and Muslims are scared of each other and talk only when required”. Explaining further, he said “Hindus think that we’ll harm them because we have been attacked in the riots and Muslims think that Hindus can attack us again”. However, Afsar Khan (56) is of a different opinion and said that he is sure his Hindu neighbour will help him if and when required.

At the far end of the street sat Munni Devi (70) observing Navratri fast. Her double storey house was burnt during the riots too. Her husband Naresh Chand who used to run a vegetable shop has been out of work since riots and the son and daughter-in-law haven’t returned home because “they don’t feel safe”. Living in a house with no gate because they haven’t been able to get it fixed owing to the curbs, Devi said, “I am fasting and praying to God that this ends and everyone stays safe and everything becomes normal again”.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 9:17:33 AM |

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