Activists make sharp attacks on CM Kejriwal and political class for their sheer apathy towards Delhi violence victims
By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: Prominent activists including Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj, Annie Raja, and Geetanjali Krishna today described the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his government’s apathy and abdication of responsibilities towards the affected people of North-East Delhi riots as “criminal act”. Releasing a report, they alleged that Central and Delhi both the governments have failed in providing any modicum of relief to the affected or displaced people of the recent spate of violence in which so far 47 people have been died, more than 200 are injured and thousands have been rendered homeless.
Recalling the example of New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s reaching out to the Christchurch terror attack victims last year, Harsh Mander said the CM should have gone to the riots-affected area and stood by them (Victims). Entire political class was to blame for this criminal silence as one political class adopted cynical game of silence while the other class was caught in moral timidity, he said. On Kejriwal’s alibi that police is not under his jurisdiction, Mander said he should have become the face of the relief operations in the affected areas. This is not a moment of scoring brownie points or making political calculation or thinking about the next election but to heal and share the grief of those lost their members in the violence, he said. Every single institutions of the State have failed the citizens of Delhi and it is collective shame for all of us, Mander said.
The communal violence, which broke out on February 24, 2020 and carried on till February 26, 2020, has totally exposed the ruling Aam Aadmi Party which retained the power with a landslide victory in the February 8 assembly election.
Another activist Anjali Bhardwaj said the Kejriwal government has been only seen in the media and twitter not on the ground zero. Echoing similar sentiments, Annie Raja said the government is not running a single relief camps and providing them subsides foods as essential foods items prices shot up there.
The activists said the report highlighted the ground situation after talking to affected people revealing the Delhi government did not set up a single relief camp while most of the affected people are being housed in the nine shelter camps out of which four are for males, three for general and only one is for women.
NO RELIEF BEING PROVIDED BY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
In each place, families which had to abandon their homes due to violence are taking refuge with their relatives or have made private arrangements in different localities or are staying in temporary accommodation provided by private individuals. The Central and Delhi governments have not set up a single relief camp in the areas which we visited. During the time of our visit from 3 pm to 7 pm, private vehicles carrying some relief material reached Chaman Park. We did not find any government agency or representative involved in co-ordinating or delivering relief during the time we were there.”
It noted that “the abdication by the Delhi and Central governments, of their basic responsibility of providing help to people rendered homeless and vulnerable due to violence is shocking.”
It also exposed the Delhi government’s empty announcement for relief stating that, “After maintaining a deafening silence for more than 3 days after the violence broke out, the measures announced by the Delhi government are inadequate to meet even the basic needs of affected persons – we did not find even those being implemented on the ground during our visit.”
The report noted that nearly 1000 people, from the Muslim community, who fled from their homes in Shiv Vihar due to the violence, are taking shelter in private homes in nearby Chaman Park.
“Several people stated that when men attempted to return to Shiv Vihar to retrieve belongings, especially their documents, they were brutally attacked and there were reports of some people being murdered (we cannot verify this independently).”
“Several children were extremely concerned about missing out on their final exams, especially those who had to appear for board exams.”
“We met with a young man who had stitches on the back of his head and his left eye was swollen shut. He said he was returning from Karawal Nagar to check on the condition of his family on the evening of the 25th of February, when he was caught by 16-17 men who asked whether he was Hindu or Muslim. Upon hearing that he was Muslim, they mercilessly beat him. He received the stitches on his head at GTB Hospital but said he was too scared to return to the hospital to get his eye treated,” activists said.
On compensation scheme
People we spoke to had no information about the compensation scheme announced by the Delhi government and no one had even seen the form which is required to be filled up. No representative of the Delhi or Central government had visited them.
Shiv Vihar turns into ghost town
We visited the deserted galis of Shiv Vihar, which resembled a ghost town. Thousands of people, both Hindus and Muslims, have abandoned their homes due to the riots. Rapid Action Force personnel were stationed at every corner. Blackened walls of houses, charred remains of vehicles, burnt household items, furniture from shops strewn on the streets and barricades put up using almirahs and desks bear testimony to the tragic consequences of communal hate & violence.
We could only locate a few Hindu families in the riot affected area, and most of them said they were taking shelter in nearby localities of Johripur and other areas. They said that all the Muslims had abandoned their homes. We met with Mithlesh and Sunita, who are neighbours and run a small halwai (sweet) shop in Gali no. 14, 25 foot road. They said that armed mobs entered lanes from both sides and burnt dwellings, destroyed homes, attacked people. They said they tried calling the police and fire brigade repeatedly, but with no success.
We saw several burnt school buses, trucks, vehicles and also the remains of the burnt petrol pump. At Bhajanpura main road, we saw the Mazar which had been set on fire. It was barely 10 feet away from a Police Help Centre (located on the same pavement).”
Activists said they met with Muslim and Hindu families in Bhajanpura, Chaman Park and Shiv Vihar to understand their immediate concerns and their needs. They said Relief measures must include:
1-Safe shelter with adequate privacy for families who have been forced to abandon their houses, where they can stay till their homes are rebuilt and the atmosphere is conducive for their return;
2-Provision of cooked food, preferably through 24*7 community kitchens in the area and provision of milk, vegetables at subsidized rates through mobile vans;
3-Establishment of 24*7 medical camps in affected areas including availability of gynaecologists and child psychologists;
4-Provision of clean clothing for all affected persons;
5-Setting up camps for helping people obtains copies of official documents which have been destroyed in the violence and arson;
6-Setting up facilitation desks for providing legal help and completing formalities for seeking compensation;
7- Immediate rebuilding and repair of all places of worship damaged in the violence;
8-Delhi government officials must be present and easily accessible in the affected areas;
9-Procedure for applying for compensation must be simple taking into cognisance that most affected people would have lost their documents in the violence and arson.