After facing flak, Delhi government steps up rehabilitation work
The government initially converted eight night shelters into relief camps but received a tepid response from affected families.Updated: Mar 03, 2020 06:58 IST
Around 4.30pm on Monday, Jafrunisa, 45, was among a hundred people struggling to enter an eidgah in north-east Delhi’s Mustafabad through its tiny gate. By afternoon, it was readied as the 10th and biggest relief camp set up by the Delhi government to rehabilitate victims of the communal riots that ravaged north-east Delhi last week.
For five days, Jafrunisa, a resident of Shiv Vihar, was given shelter by a local businessman who opened his home for at least a dozen other riot-hit families. “I haven’t bathed for five days and managed to change my clothes. I hope I get to have a bath in this relief camp and won’t have to hold the urge to relieve myself,” she said, looking at the four rows of tents erected inside the eidgah.
The government initially converted eight night shelters into relief camps but received a tepid response from affected families.
After the government came under fire from activists for allegedly failing to provide adequate relief material and rehabilitation facilities, from Thursday evening, the Delhi government, its Waqf Board, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers and local leaders set up the eidgah camp — the 10th — almost overnight. Delhi labour minister Gopal Rai rejected claims of inadequate relief.
The ninth camp is a community centre where around 42 families, mostly from Old Garhi Mendu village, are living.
The camp, with separate rows of tents for women (and children) and men, can accommodate about 1,000 people and has provisions for food, water, medicines and toilets. A help desk has also been set up to assist the riot-affected to fill up compensation forms for losses.
At least 100 families out of more than 300 applicants received ex-gratia compensation of ₹25,000 till Monday, senior officials in the revenue department told HT. “Till Monday night, a total of at least Rs 25 lakh has been disbursed as compensation for immediate relief to those whose homes have been burnt. The total applications received so far has crossed 300,” the revenue official said.
Inside the tents, green carpets were spread out for people even as mattresses and blankets were still being arranged till about 5pm when HT visited the site. A kitchen was also being built and officials said it would be ready by Tuesday. Mobile toilets had been installed while for women, a separate bathing facility was being arranged behind the camp. But there was no medical facility till late Monday afternoon.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the riot-hit area once, on Thursday. Revenue minister Kailash Gahlot, whose department is handling the compensation programme, and BJP MP Manoj Tiwari have not visited the site even once.
The Delhi government and the central government on Monday came under severe criticism from activists for allegedly waking up late in taking up relief and rehabilitation measures for families in Jafrabad, Maujpur, Brijpuri, Bhajanpura, Shiv Vihar, Mustafabad, Brahmpuri, Kardampuri, Gokalpuri , Jyoti Nagar, etc.
Human rights activists Anjali Bhardwaj, Annie Raja, Poonam Kaushik, Geetanjali Krishna and Amrita Johri inspected some of these areas on February 29 and accused both governments of being “completely absent from the relief operations”.
“We met Muslim and Hindu families in Bhajanpura, Chaman Park and Shiv Vihar to understand their immediate concerns and whether the relief efforts adequately address their needs. In each place, families that had to abandon their homes are taking refuge with 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,” read the report prepared by the activists.
Gopal Rai rejected the claim by showcasing the Eidgah camp. “We are doing everything possible to give immediate relief to the victims. We are running a campaign #DelhiRelief at multiple levels to get contact details of victims so that we can reach them. We will ensure a quick response from our agencies,” he said.
Later in the day, several activists held a joint press conference during which Harjit Singh Bhatti from Progressive Medicos and Scientists claimed there was a long delay in providing treatment to those who suffered gunshot wounds.
“This was because police did not allow private medical help to reach the sites of violence. Police were rude and because of fear and disbelief, several wounded people were not ready to undergo treatment in government hospitals,” he said.
Bhardwaj said a large number of people still had not received any medical help. “The violence exposed India’s poor healthcare system. Government hospitals are overburdened... The riot-affected areas do not have any hospital ... the nearest hospital is 10 kilometres away,” she claimed.
Bhardwaj said no one from the Centre or Delhi government had “established any contact with the people till February 29”. The activists said public representatives should visit ground zero and meet violence-hit people, which is a crucial confidence-building measure.
“Round-the-clock medical camps are needed... single-window facilitation centres for official documents destroyed in arson needed,” they said.
Locals and people in nearby neighbourhoods opened up their homes for affected families, offering food and clothes and even money. Furkan Malik, a businessman, gave shelter to about 20 people in Indra Vihar, while Gyazuddin, a businessman from the Walled City, was seen distributing ₹500 to every person in need.
“This is the time to come forward and help. Do not spread any more hatred. Help even the Hindus. All of us together have seen hell in the past one week,” Gyazuddin told the crowd who gathered around him.
At one private shelter, the victims complained that the ration being distributed was being looted by goons. Mohammad Mukim, whose house was set on fire in Shiv Vihar, said, “Even if we get the ration, what do we do with it? Where do we keep it? We have no house left. We are just moving from one shelter to the other.”
Several private trusts have set up mobile ambulances with doctors, medicines and first-aid available for victims. A number of religious organisations were seen distributing meals, blankets and other essential items to the people.
Talking to HT, Delhi police commissioner SN Shrivastava, who inspected riot-hit areas on Monday, said the police had registered around 350 FIRs so far. “We have already registered more than 350 cases. We are arresting people,” he said.
Asked if any case has been registered against BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who is accused of delivering an inflammatory speech a day before the riots, Shrivastava said, “That is a different and a specific case about which I won’t talk now.”
Around four Hindu families, the only ones left behind in Shiv Vihar, which saw the worst violence and arson, approached the commissioner. “It gets really quiet and deserted at night. We urge you to deploy security personnel at night. We are living with a colony made of heaps of ashes and houses covered in soot,” Ravi Shankar, a resident