Delhi violence: Traders, houseowners mourn their losses

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New Delhi: Owners of dozens of houses and shops and other properties vandalised and burnt down by marauding mobs in northeast Delhi’s Chandbagh area were busy assessing and mourning their losses on Thursday.

Hooligans had damaged or burnt down dozens of houses, small shops and even showrooms since Monday afternoon in the area.

Dilshad, who ran a fruit juice shop on the ground floor of his premises and lived on the first floor with his family, was sitting visibly shocked outside his gutted shop.

The rotting fruits lay strewn across the shop and even on the street outside, with juice-extracting appliances smashed by rioters.

“We are now literally on the streets; there is nothing left for us. My shop and house are destroyed,” he told IANS.

Dishad said that the violent mob arrived at his shop from the opposite side of the road and set it alight. “They ransacked my house also and looted jewellery purchased for the impending marriages of my brothers.”

His brother Bhure Lal, who owns a separate shop in the same building, maintained that the “violence resulted from the hate speeches made by certain politicians.”

“Who suffered due to the hate speeches? Politicians? No, it is us who have faced the wrath,” Lal said.

Recalling his ordeal, Lal said: “On Monday afternoon, the mob attacked our shops and other houses in the area; we were clueless. I took my kids to safety from the rooftop. They had to jump from one roof to another to escape the rioters.”

He said to save smaller children from the fire lit by the rioters, the family had to throw them into the arms of other members waiting below.

Lal said that the family had since taken refuge at the house of his maternal brother living in the same area.

Aaisha, a 6-year-old girl, returned to her damaged house with her father Shafi Mohammad to find her burnt schoolbag. She picked what was a partially burnt notebook to check on the homework her teacher had given her that fateful day.

Shafi showed his children’s piggy bank damaged by fire. He pointed out that everything ranging from washing machine, refrigerator, utensils, clothes, books and notebooks, and other equipment were gutted.

Mohammad Raees, who owned an e-rickshaw showroom next to an Indian Oil petrol pump gutted in the Sunday violence, rued: “I have lost everything; no one has so far come to console us.”

Over 25 new e-rickshaws parked in his showroom were burnt down and batteries and other spare parts looted by the mobs on Sunday afternoon, he said.

Raees said that the rioters torched his showroom, before targeting the petrol pump. He said he somehow escaped from the spot before the rioters could catch hold of him.

Firoz Ahmed, who owned Chaudhary Tour and Travel centre adjoining Raees’ shop, said his premises was targeted too.

“There is nothing left,” he complained, adding that police remained a mute spectator as the mob went on a rampage. “Had they acted in time, shops and houses could have been saved from damage.”

He showed a video clip of the mobs setting his shop, the petrol pump, and the e-rickshaw showroom on fire.

In the violence from Sunday till Tuesday evening in northeast Delhi, at least 33 persons were killed and over 200 others injured.

By Anand Singh