Vandalised medical shop in Gautam Vihar opens shutters weeks after violence

Salman outside his medical shop in violence-hit Gautam Vihar on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Hemani Bhandari

In what can be called the first few glimpses of rebuilding lives, a medical shop run by Salman was finally opened on Monday in riot-hit Gautam Vihar. The shop was entirely vandalised and looted by a mob during the violence on February 25.

Showing a video shot by a neighbour which is still on his phone, Salman explained how the shutter was broken and articles in the shop were taken away by men, some of whom had covered their faces with handkerchiefs.

Recalling the incident, Salman said, he and his brother Waseem closed the shop in a hurry, leaving behind the day’s earnings and ₹2 lakh which they had to pay to a distributor. Being the only Muslim-run shop on the stretch, Salman had asked his neighbours to take care as his house in Yamuna Vihar is about 3 km away from the shop and the neighbours tried their best, he said.

Neighbours’ support

“Our neighbours in the street are good people. They told the mob not to harm the shop,” he said.

Referring to one ‘Bablu bhai’, he said: “He [Bablu bhai] had told that if you really worship Lord Ram then don’t do this, but they didn’t listen and continued to chant Jai Shri Ram.” However, the neighbour ensured that the shop was not burnt to ashes. “While I think none of our neighbours were involved in vandalism, there could be others in the area who could have told the rioters that the shop is run by Muslims”.

They damaged one refrigerator and burnt another, he said, adding that most drawers in the shop were broken and looted. “We were informed about the situation by our neighbours. So we called the welder and asked him to at least fix the shutter the same day but when the welder was working, rioters again came and didn’t let him work,” he said.

Salman said he called the police three times on February 25, but no help came his way. “They called me back three days ago to ask why I had called on that day. I told them I have already got an FIR registered,” he said.

Salman and his family didn’t visit their shop for a week after the incident and finally visited later. On the same day, after taking stock, they went to New Usmanpur Police Station and informed the police. The FIR was registered without any hassle, he said.

The 28-year-old said that they still didn’t have the courage to open the shop but their customers encouraged them due to which they could take the decision. “Our customers called us and sympathised. One of the female customers even cried. People residing and working near our store also called and said that we should open again and shouldn’t be afraid anymore,” he said.

Restored back to shape

A week ago, after Holi, the repair work began. A few NGOs raised money for the shop and the family also received a compensation of ₹3 lakh from the government. “We got the whole shop re-painted, changed the shutters, got new mirror shelves and purchased a new refrigerator. We have also started stocking up medicines. Thankfully, our distributors have told us to pay them when we are in a position to,” he said.

With the shop running, the two brothers feed the family of 15, including six children, residing in a four-storey rented accommodation.

“The funds were drying up. Till when could we sit at home? Thank God, we have been able to open,” he said heaving a sigh of relief.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 10:39:07 AM |

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