Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Brahm Singh, 65, is yet to recover from the mental and financial distress that he had to experience during the communal riots last year.
As many as 65 vehicles parked at his garage located at the juncture of Karawal Nagar, Shiv Vihar and Mustafabad in northeast Delhi were reduced to ashes in a few hours after a mob attacked the property.
“I can never forget that moment when I first saw the condition of my garage. I was shattered. For several days, I did not know where to begin from,” said Singh.
It took Rs 9 lakh and three months for Singh to rebuild the garage from the rubble. His garage now offers space for holding functions, while only a few cars are parked here. But what hurts Singh the most is the zero financial assistance from the Delhi government so far.
“I had a loss of around Rs 15 lakh and I am haven’t received a single penny from the authorities. At this age, I have been taking rounds of the SDM office. I have all the documents and papers to support my claim, but the attitude of the government has been disappointing,” he added.“Now, no one wants to park their cars here. Most of them had car insurance, but I didn’t have,” Singh lamented.
Similar concerns were raised by Danish Malik, who now runs a mobile and watch shop at the Maujpur market. Danish claimed that they had to run from pillar to post to receive financial help from the government but were turned away.
“Most of our documents were gutted when the shop was set on fire by the rioters. Whatever papers we left with were submitted in the SDM office, but the officials had asked for more documents and evidence. The officials had even visited our shop. What more evidence do they want from us? All that we expected was the compensation,” Danish, a resident of Maujpur, said.A Delhi born, Danish claimed that the damages were caused by “outsiders”.
The family reopened the shop in May last year, and it took around two more months to fully settle.
Recalling the horrifying experience, he said: “We faced a loss of Rs 15-16 lakh. There were new mobile phones that we had ordered on February 23, a day before the riots broke out in the area. In the evening, people came and asked us to shut our shop immediately. The next evening, someone called to inform us that our shop was completely burnt down. Since then, my father is not keeping well. He had slipped into depression.”
At Karawal Nagar, one of the worst-affected areas, Mohd Hadis had to start from scratch to resume his automobile shop. A resident of Chandu Nagar near Khajoori Khas, Hadis had to spend Rs 6 lakh to rebuild the shop. He, too, is yet to receive compensation from the government.
“I had six bikes, three were mine and three of customers, all charred. My shop was targeted because of my religion. I can even identify a few from the mob who had set my shop ablaze. But I don’t want to drag the issue further because I have to run the shop,” Hadis said.
SDM Shahdara Debasis Biswal, however, said all the victims were given the compensations.
“Those who don’t have insurance for their shops were given the amount. We didn’t provide any financial assistance to those who had their shops covered under insurance,” Biswal clarified.
Besides non-monetary compensation and financial loss, another factor that has hit the shop owners here is a reduced workforce. Nakul Tomar, who works as a manager at Shagun Sweets in Maujpur, said around 20 staff had quit the job, after the riots took place, and never returned.
“Our staff have been given accommodations on the first floor of the shop. On February 24, they saw it all — how rioters entered the shop, vandalised it, set things on fire. They were trapped inside the shop for two days before the police escorted them,” he said.
According to Tomar, Shagun Sweets had suffered a loss of approximately Rs 50 lakh.Rishabh Jain, whose furniture shop is also located in Maujpur, also noted that the businessmen in the locality had to face a sudden labour crunch since many fled the area. “Many of the workers were from UP and Bihar who haven’t come back yet,” he added.
Government pays Rs 26-crore relief
The Delhi govt has so far disbursed compensation of over Rs 26 crore to 2,221 victims. A total compensation of Rs 26.09 crore has been paid. It included Rs 4.25 crore provided to kin of 44 people killed.
Mishra to do it again?
BJP leader Kapil Mishra on Monday said he had no regrets about the speech targeting the anti-CAA protesters made by him a day before the riots broke out last year, and added that if required, he would do it again.