National

Caught in cross-fire, small manufacturers pay a big price

Garima Singh New Delhi | Updated on March 04, 2020 Published on March 04, 2020

The plight of small manufacturing units after the riots in the north-east part of the national capital is hard to overlook. Not only houses but several buildings, and shops were burned down, completely destroying the means of livelihood for a large number of people.

Though there is no official estimate of economic losses so far, a large number of cottage-based business units in the affected areas were totally destroyed over six days of violence starting from February 23. As many as 49 people lost their lives and more than 200 were injured.

Babu Khan, 47, who has a car seat making unit in Shiv Vihar, said his shop was torched by rioters on the night of 25th. “Apart from rexine material worth ₹4 lakh stored in the shop, all equipment was burnt,” Khan said displaying semi-charred pieces of rexine bundles.

The air in the 10x10 ft room was thick with the foul smell of burnt material. The entire alley where his shop stood was strewn with at least a dozen charred two-wheelers.

A cluster of jeans manufacturing units in area have also been badly damaged in the riots and are shut down.

Standing in front of his pastry shop in Shiv Vihar and looking at the aftermath of the devastation of the evening of February 25th, teary-eyed Gulli Chand said, “My entire household is dependent on earning from this shop. Now, everything is finished”. Not only Chand’s Arun pastry shop but two other shops that were run by his brother, and situated close to his shop, were all burned down.

Raees who had an agency of e-rickshaws in Bhajanpura has a similar story to tell. “There were around 20 new e-rickshaw in the shop — one e-rickshaw costs around ₹1.90 lakh — at the time of violence and now everything is burned. I don’t know where to start from.

Residents of Shiv Vihar, Khazoori Khaas, and Bhajanpura blame the lax attitude of the police that worsened the situation. Irrespective of their religious identities, they claim that the extent of damage could have been controlled if the police had reached the spot on time.

A week after the riots, the shops and houses that bore the brunt of the mob attack remain in a state of devastation as the owners are yet to recover and do not know where to start picking up the pieces of livelihood lost. “Right now our minds are really blank. We will wait for the government to do something for us,” Raees said.

Sharun Khan, an 18-year-old, who together with his father and elder brother, ran a shop in Shiv Vihar that supplied clothes sold in hardware shops, initially thought his shop was spared when the miscreants burned down many of buildings, including a madrasa, in the neighbourhood on 25th night.

“But they returned the next day morning to ransack the shop and burn it down,” he said. Even cash and jewellery from their house was stolen.

(With inputs from TV Jayan)

Published on March 04, 2020
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