After communal violence, COVID-19 and lockdown have left them reeling
It has been over a month since Mohammed Qutubuddin went to work. He sews to make a living and says he is dependent on his neighbours and relatives for groceries.
First, it was the communal riots and now COVID-19 and the lockdown which hit the residents of the worst-hit Shiv Vihar.
Also read: Delhi violence | Looted, burnt out homes offer little welcome to Shiv Vihar’s riot victims
“Aakhri baar kaam par 23 tareek ko gaya tha. Uske baad se kuch nahi kiya. Kamaane ka koi aur zariya bhi nahi hai [The last time I went to work was on February 23. Haven’t been able to work thereafter. There’s no other way of earning],” said Qutubuddin who has a family of five to feed and ₹2,200 rent to pay.
In the narrow lanes, many houses were locked. Those still living there said most of the locked houses were either vandalised or looted. Those living there didn’t return. “One thing that’s good now is that there are fewer people, and this reduces the chances of coronavirus infection,” said Nazar Mohammed, a government school teacher, whose house was burnt during the riots.
On Thursday, people were found holed up in their homes or sitting at their doorsteps. “Television sets in most houses were looted and just one or two houses have been able to buy again. Taking precautions, people mostly stay indoors. We also maintain distance while talking,” said Ikram Hasan, 56.
A few streets ahead lives Nazar Mohammed in a two-storey house. His immediate concern is to be able to fix his electricity board and paint the remaining house. “When BSES workers came, electricity supply was temporarily restored. Only a bulb is working now. I had started renovating the house about 10 days ago and had brought some materials that were required. The painting of half the house is left. Flooring is also left. Because of the lockdown, no labourer is coming. I am living here, while my wife and kids are living in a rented house on the next street,” he said. He has received ₹50,000 in compensation. The rest is yet to arrive.
Also read: Exams at Shiv Vihar school postponed after protest
Talking about the compensation, the residents said they were in dire straits. “There are two grocery stores nearby selling flour, pulses and other essential items. Sometimes, they’re available and sometimes they’re not. Vegetable prices have shot up. The last time we received ration as relief material was on March 20, before the lockdown. We can’t hoard supplies because we can’t afford it. We don’t know how to deal with this situation,” said the wife of autorickshaw driver Aslam, 45, who did not wish to be named. Mr Aslam has been out of work.
The house of Suman, 40, and her husband Satyapal, 47, was looted. Without a television set, they sat at the doorstep to while away their time. The bigger problem is that the water supply has not been restored. Hence, they rented a house at Johripur. “We had a combined connection with five other houses. One of the houses was burnt, and their connection hasn’t been restored. Now, it cannot happen because of the lockdown. Therefore, we spend the day here and go back in the evening,” Ms. Suman said.
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