India File

No ‘relief’

AM Jigeesh | Updated on March 10, 2020

abu Khan sits in front of D-222, his small house in Gali No. 16, which was home to him for about 30 years ever since he migrated from Bulandshahr looking for a job. He lost his sons Aamir (30) and Hashim (19) in the Delhi riots.

Khan works with a tailoring unit that makes ladies garments. His speciality is embroidery. A daily-wager, Khan was not able to send his children to school. His second son Aamir and Aamir’s younger brother Hashim were no different.

Like youngsters in the locality, Aamir started his life as a worker in a small jeans garment factory near Seelampur. He worked there for several years as a daily-wager, and later became a taxi driver.

Aamir has two children, both girls. The elder one is about five and the younger will turn three this year. The first child is going to a nearby private school and Aamir was planning to enrol his second daughter too in the same school in the new academic year. “The kids think their father has gone to collect his salary from the taxi owner. What will I tell them? Aamir’s wife is also inconsolable,” Khan says.

Dalbir Singh Negi was just 20. He came all the way from Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, in search of a job. His parents are small-time farm workers. “He used to help us with whatever he got,” says Devendra Singh Negi, Dalbir’s brother. Dalbir was a waiter at a sweet shop in Shiv Vihar, where the rioters inflicted maximum damage. Negi was living in a small room.

“His salary was our main income. Now we really don’t know what to do. I don’t know how I will console my parents,” says Devendra.

The situation is not looking good, says Javed, a relief worker. There is a call for economic boycott of Muslims, particularly in Bhajanpura area. Muslims are being forced to leave rented accommodation. Families which have fled are too scared to return. A number of organisations are engaged in relief and rehabilitation. “The first priority is restore their businesses. For barbers, it will be hairdressing equipment, for tailors a sewing machine, which fortunately will not cost very much. We are drawing up a list of such losses, so aid can be organised,” Javed says, adding that it may amount to just ₹5,000 per household in such cases.

But with an estimated 1,000 people at the eidgah relief camp in Mustafabad, including a 20-day infant, and just four toilets or so, amoebic dysentery and cholera can break out. Families are also staying with relatives, and for them food is being sent across by volunteers. “Relief material is being dumped before the eidgah area, as though the occupants are beggars. Meanwhile, the elite distribute Frooti and take selfies,” he observes. “Women and children need counselling. Students in Ambedkar University are unable to concentrate on their classes,” a relief worker says.

“Those who used to run small businesses require immediate access to credit. No concrete plans have been announced by the authorities to make it easier for these people to raise enough funds to buy essential instruments to restart business,” says social worker EP Rahmath.

With inputs from A Srinivas and Jinoy Jose P

Published on March 10, 2020

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