New Delhi: Among the localities of north east Delhi which were engulfed in violent riots during the last week is Khajuri Khas.
On February 25, around 40 houses were targeted by the rioters in Khajuri Khas’s street number five, including the house of Mohammed Anees, a BSF soldier. Anees is currently posted in Odisha. After getting the news of violence, he returned home to a scene of devastation.
His family has eight members, all of whom were at home at the time of the attack.
When a team of The Wire reached Anees’s house on February 27, the entire neighbourhood was shrouded in silence.
Most of the houses in the lane were gutted, and the street was covered in debris. All vehicles parked in the street have been burnt. As their houses have been burned down, all residents of Anees’s street have shifted to a temporary shelter in the opposite street.
Explosions from petrol bombs and cylinders have caused the roof of Anees’s house to collapse and debris are piled outside the house. On entering the house, one finds that all household property has been reduced to ashes, including kitchen items or furniture. There is a burnt bed in the front room, still smouldering.
The heat and smell of burnt items are overwhelming. Anees’s family members are still scared.
On reaching the first floor, we found a pile of burnt items. When asked about it, Anees’s father told us that they were items collected for his daughter’s wedding. Both Anees and his sister were going to be married this year.
Meanwhile, the BSF has come forth with help to Anees’s family. The BSF will help in the reconstruction of their house and they have also promised financial support.
Anees’s cousin Gulsher told The Wire, “We had confined ourselves to our homes when we heard that the atmosphere was turning vile. On the night of February 25, a mob of more than 500 rioters entered our street shouting slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and carrying petrol bombs, arms and ammunition and set all vehicle parked in the street on fire. The mob started pelting stones. We ran towards the terrace to escape the mob. The rioters then began throwing petrol bombs on terraces.”
Anees’s father Mohd Munis added, “Never in my life had I thought that I would face a situation like this. We were trapped in the house. Had the force not come, we could not have survived. The rioters were shouting ‘Pakistanion bahar niklo’ (Come out, Pakistanis), ‘desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko’ (‘kill the traitors’) and ‘Jai Shri Ram’.”
Translated from Hindi by Naushin Rehman.