Delhi riots: As social fabric comes apart, some couples fight the odds to tie the knot
On Thursday, house number 242 in riot-hit Ghonda in north-east Delhi came across as any other house in the locality. That it had hosted a wedding just a day before was difficult to gauge. There were no lights decking it up. Music systems were not playing songs. It was not even teeming with guests.
Nisha Tomar, 23, got married in the adjoining village dharamshala in a small ceremony attended by just a few relatives, only around 15 people on Wednesday.
The dhol player, the florist and even the wedding photographer did not turn up because of the communal riots in the area. All bookings were made in advance, but the violence disrupted all plans, the bride’s family members said.
Tension hung in the air even as armed forces patrolled the streets on Wednesday and Thursday. Ghonda Chowk, from where one enters the colony, was dotted with a heap of charred vehicles.
Nisha’s family approached the local police on Wednesday morning to help ensure the safety of their guests.
“About four or five police
personnel stayed around the venue to ensure the ceremony was performed smoothly. A senior police officer we met asked us to keep the celebrations low-key. We informed the groom’s family and our relatives of the same,” said Sooraj Singh Tomar, the brides’ father.
Only 15 people, as against the 150 invited, from the groom’s family attended.“Preparations for the wedding had been on for six months, and now there’s nothing of it. Koi raunak nai hai. Sabke armaan hote hai, par kya kare (There’s no joy. Everyone has dreams, but what can we do),” Tomar added.
Hours before her wedding, Nisha couldn’t hold her tears back. “It looks more like a funeral. No friends or relatives could join, there are no festivities. Everything changed in two days,” she said.
Rajan Bhagat, the deputy commissioner of police (crime) looking after riot-hit areas, said: “We were taking confidence-building measures between both communities. We are ensuring all social requirements are met, including providing safe passage to wedding processions so that there is no fear among people.”
Barely 100 metres away, the Prajapati family advanced their daughter’s wedding and held all the functions at the groom’s house.
“The groom’s family, hailing from Noida, refused to come down for the wedding fixed for February 27 because the atmosphere was so tense. We didn’t want to take a risk, so we decided to go to Noida and perform both the engagement and wedding ceremonies on Wednesday itself,” said Pradeep Prajapati, the bride’s elder brother.
In New Mustafabad, 27-year-old Naeem’s wedding has been postponed to Friday. The family has moved out of their house, which was vandalised by rioters to stay at a relative’s place for a while. “The wedding was fixed for Tuesday, but that evening rioters burnt down many houses while bricks were thrown at others. The ceremony has now been shifted to Friday,” said Aamir, the groom’s brother.