For the family of 31-year-old Afzal Shaikh, it was a new lease of life when their son started an air-conditioner repair shop about six months ago. But, after his arrest during the violent protest at Azad Maidan on August 11, the family’s fortune has taken a downturn. The shop has been closed, as their primary breadwinner languishes in custody.
His 28-year-old brother Anwar has been fending for the family of 15 that includes his father, mother, three other brothers, three sisters, and their respective wives and children. The joint family lives in two rooms that MMRDA has allotted to them in Jogeshwari. The cramped rooms are not adequate for a family of 15, but they have been adjusting to the hardship.
“My ageing father was paralysed a year-and-a-half ago. My mother is already quite worried about his health, and now has to deal with Afzal’s arrest. There are many things to look after — my father’s medicines, family expenditure, and now the legal expenses.”
“We now don’t even have the money to look after our children’s health,” he said.
Anwar said that Afzal’s wife has been depressed after his arrest. “She starts sobbing when we discuss Afzal, so we do not talk about him in front of her.”
“When I went to meet Afzal, I was traumatised after seeing the injury marks on his legs and body. The police have treated him badly. I have been visiting the police station to plead them to set my brother free. I also visited the crime branch, but could not meet the seniors,” he added.