India Tomorrow is assessing the pathetic situation of the riot-hit Muslim community in Northeast Delhi, one year after India’s worst anti-Muslim violence that attracted international headlines. As many as 53 persons were killed, 40 of them Muslims, and properties worth hundreds of crores of rupees was destroyed. Hundreds were displaced and many of them are yet to begin their life afresh. Interviews of victims reveal that they are passing through the most difficult period of their life. This is the first part of the eye-opening series on the plight of riot victims.
NEW DELHI—It’s almost a year since the Delhi riots engineered by the right-wing groups and their supporters took place between February 23-26 last year. The families of the riot victims are undergoing the worst mental trauma. They narrate their ordeal to India Tomorrow and what they think about the past and what holds for them in the future.
This is the first of the series in which we are presenting the story of Feroz Ahmad of Ashok Vihar who was brutally killed during the riots.
Ahmad was murdered by rioters and his corpse was located and identified after fourteen days.
The riots took place when the protest against the CAA-NRC was in full swing. The riots took place after inflammatory speeches by a BJP leader. Whether his speeches triggered the riots is a matter of investigation but it is certainly a coincidence that riots followed the inflammatory speeches of the right-wing politician.
Feroze Ahmad stayed with his family in Ashok Vihar area of Loni in Ghaziabad district(UP) adjoining Delhi and used to work as a labourer in Chandni Chowk.
Narrating the whole incident, his widow Rukhsana said that on Feb 24, 2020 her husband had stepped out searching for work.
While he was returning home as he did not get any work, a mob caught and brutally murdered him and dumped his body in a `nullah’ in Karawal Nagar area. Not only is Rukksana pained at the violence and mob lynching of her husband but the callous attitude of the government which, she alleged, aggravated her pains and intensified her suffering. She had to face an uphill task in lodging an FIR against the culprits for the macabre murder of her husband.
She said, “After he did not return home on Feb 24, we started a search for him and checked all the morgues and places where injured persons were admitted but could not locate him. His corpse was finally found on March 8 and it became a challenge for us to lodge an FIR. We had to run from Uttar Pradesh police to Delhi police just to file a complaint. Delhi police said that you stay in Loni in Uttar Pradesh and it was the appropriate place to lodge an FIR while UP police sent us around saying that the murder took place under jurisdiction of Delhi police. This is how they play with the victims of violence,” she alleged.
As public transport was available, Feroze took lift with a youth on the bike while returning home. A marauding mob took Feroze down the bike and broke his legs and hands. Another man named Alam, however, saved him and took him to his home. It was at 11 pm on February 24 that called his home over phone.
The home of Alam also came under attack by the rioters the next day.
The house inmates ran away to save their lives but Feroze could not as both his hands and legs were fractured. He was pulled out and murdered in cold blood. His corpse was kept in an auto which was set on fire. According to Rukhsana, the mob subsequently dumped the body in a ‘nullah’ to destroy all evidence.
Rukhsana said, “Police did not show any concern or response when a call was made seeking help. Alam, in whose house Feroze had taken shelter, also called the police but the cops were cold in their response and did not offer any help. We tried to frantically call him but could not reach him. We started a search and went to Alam’s house and found it burnt into ashes. Had the police reached the spot, his life would have been sent. It shows that police have become inhuman and lost all human values and conscience”.
Firoz Ahmad is survived by five children-three daughters and two sons. An NGO has pitched in support for their education in a local school. “We have received government compensation but it is meagre and cannot support the educational of five children. We don’t have any other source of income and domestic responsibilities are multiplying everyday”, she said.
When asked about police action in the case, she said “ I don’t have any hope in the government which has not done anything in the case during one year. Who is going to take action?” she questioned.
The Delhi Minorities Commission had indicted right-wing political leaders behind the “well-orchestrated and planned” riots against Muslims in Feb 2020. The report has completely exposed the criminal nexus of the saffron party with the hooligans who targeted Muslims during the riots.
The report states “The police stood like a mute spectator in front of the mob which openly carried out looting, violence and house burning. The police gave free hand to the conductors of violence and their henchmen and ensure that violence was carried out. There are examples where cops and paramilitary forces actively assisted the exit of rioters to safety after they conducted the organized attack on minorities. Muslim business establishment were selectively targeted with help of local youth and outside elements. Around 11 mosques, five madrasas and one dargah came under the target of the attackers while non-Muslim places of worship were spared,” the report said.