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Delhi riots: Rising from the carnage

A teacher at the school where my children study called up to say that the fee for next quarter is due. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that my means of livelihood had been reduced to ashes in the riots,” said Nafees-ul-Hasan, who owned Raja Automobiles, a tyre and motor parts store at Gokulpuri tyre market in northeast Delhi.

Situated right next to the Gokulpuri Metro station, the market, which once buzzed with the cackle of dealers and customers, was reduced to a smouldering pile of ashes after it was set on fire by a mob on February 24.

Though the riots, which put Delhi on edge, was still at a nascent stage at the time, the incident itself, complete with its ghastly and terror-inducing import, bore a chilling pointer to the wanton violence and arson that was to follow.

Three days on, neighbourhoods across the riot-racked parts of the city bore tell-tale signs of deranged mob fury, which opened gaping wounds on the inclusive soul of the national capital.

At least, 53 innocent lives had been lost by the time the fire, touched off by riotous mobs that took over the streets of northeast Delhi, died out.

Picking up the pieces

Picking up the pieces of a charred engine part near his shop, Nafees, also known as Raja in his neighbourhood, said, “The damage done to our (local auto parts dealers’) shops has set us back by at least two years. It will take us a long time to recover from the financial loss. However, the bigger problem that we face is that we are still not being allowed to build our businesses from scratch.”
Mohammad Rashid, president, Gokulpuri Tyre Market Association, majority of the 224 shops in the market has been reduced to rubble. Some shops were charred so badly that they may never rise from their ruins again.

“I bought a car a few days before riots started. I was on a visit to the market on February 25 when a group of rioters stormed the area and went about looting the stores. They tore down and destroyed whatever they could lay their hands on. They were armed and fast approaching where I stood. I left my car where it was and ran for my life. I later found it reduced to a burnt heap of metal. I now have to fill papers to claim compensation,” Rashid said.

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