Delhi violence | Agonising wait at mortuary for missing kin

Families in violence-affected areas line up with photos to check GTB Hospital mortuary

Updated - March 02, 2020 10:04 am IST

Published - March 01, 2020 10:45 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Long search:  The families of the missing are hoping for some information.  PTI

Long search: The families of the missing are hoping for some information. PTI

The crowd outside the GTB hospital mortuary refuses to thin out with families still running around looking for ‘missing’ relatives on Sunday.

Small passport-type photos or crowded family photos seem to the only solace now as people line up to check the mortuary for bodies holding these pictures for hospital staff, the police and the media, hoping for some information.

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“This is worse than being dead,” says Samina, sister of Salman (25), who has been missing since early last week.

“Salman worked as a labourer and had gone to Gokalpuri on February 26. He kept a phone, but it is switched off and there is no clue of what happened to him,” Ms. Samina said. She said they could not locate Salman’s body in the GTB mortuary.

Also read |Delhi violence | Looted, burnt out homes offer little welcome to Shiv Vihar’s riot victims

Also standing outside the mortuary with his family is Shahbaz, whose son Mohammad, who works as a welder, is missing.

DNA test

“He had gone to the Guru Nanak Eye Centre in Delhi on February 25 for treatment after he injured his eye during welding work. I spoke to him in the afternoon when he told us that a mob was dragging people out of the vehicles and beating them up. We haven’t had any contact or information about him after that,” said Mr. Shahbaz. The family has now requested for a DNA test of a badly burnt body found in Karawal Nagar.

The violence in the Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Babarpur, Chand Bagh, Shiv Vihar, Bhajanpura, Yamuna Vihar and Mustafabad areas of north-east Delhi has claimed at least 42 lives and left over 200 injured so far.

3 bodies recovered?

According to some reports, three bodies were fished out from a violence-stricken area on Sunday, though Delhi health authorities have not yet confirmed the recovery.

Also bound by a common sorrow of having to look for their 18-year-old sons are families of Pankaj and Bhurey Salma. “We just want the police to tell us if they are dead or alive... With every passing day, our hopes are diminishing,” Pankaj says.

Help to families

Shahdara District Legal Services and other groups, stationed at the hospital, are offering assistance to the families.

“We are helping people access the correct information on how to fill the compensation form, to navigate through legal paperwork needed to claim the body, to look for missing people etc. We even have a list of those arrested,” said advocate Mamtesh Sharma.

“So far, around 35 families contacted us. Some have identified bodies, others were directed by us to look into the wards where the injured are admitted. Also, we are coordinating with police to find out if anyone missing was detained by them,” Mr. Sharma said.

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