Reshma, 50, is sitting silently on the sidewalk with her family. There is despair on the faces of the family members. The place where she and her family are sitting now, they used to run a tea shop. This shop was on the other side of the road, in front of the mosque in the Jahangirpuri area of Delhi. The shop was demolished by a bulldozer of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC).
Reshma says that she has a family of 14 people. Her shop was set up in this place 40 years ago. The entire family is supported by this shop. The eldest in the family is Reshma and the youngest is the grandson. There are six children in the family. Reshma says that her ancestors came to Delhi from West Bengal and have been living here since then, and that she was born in Delhi.
“In all these years, there has never been any violence between Hindus and Muslims here and this time there was violence. And now, we are being called Bangladeshi in their own country,” says Reshma. “The shop on the footpath was illegal, the MCD people never demolished it before, and now it’s all broken,” she adds. “Whosoever has done the riot, now my family is facing a crisis and has lost a source to rean bread,” Reshma says.
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‘Father is from Kolkata, I’m from Delhi’
Akbar and Rahima, who set up a small shop on the street, are heartbroken to see their demolished shop. While talking to the media, Rahima shouts angrily, “Those who rioted, they have been left, and now our shop is broken because of it”.
Akbar and Rahima are husband and wife. Rahima shouts and says in front of the media, “ Are we rioters? We are street vendors. We used to work to earn a living through this shop. It has been here since 2006”. Akbar says, “When the MCD people came this morning, we asked if they would take action against us too, then they said no, but then suddenly, they came and started breaking the goods, and I could not even save my belongings. I lost 70- 80 thousand rupees”. Akbar says that he has 3 children. His father hails from Holda, Kolkata, but Akbar was born in Delhi in 1984.
‘Outsiders spoiled the peace’
Mohammad Tehseem does contract work here. Tehseem says that people belonging to different religions have been living here together for several years. “There was never a riot here before this. Suddenly, an atmosphere started building against the Muslims. Now, people say that remove the speaker from the mosque. Why remove it? Are the speakers installed today? No local has ever objected to it. People from outside came here and spoiled the peace here” says Tehseem.
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There are several other residents of Jahangirpuri, whose shops were razed by the MCD on Wednesday. They grieved that the demolition of their main source of income had left them worried about their children.
Flashback into the story
A communal clash broke out between two groups in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri during a Hanuman Jayanti procession on Saturday. Nine people were injured. The Delhi Police launched a probe and has held 25 adults and two juveniles in the case so far.
Meanwhile, the Delhi BJP claimed those accused in the Jahangirpuri violence were living in illegal constructions and demanded that they be demolished. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation launched an anti-encroachment drive on Wednesday. However, the Supreme Court halted the demolition and will continue hearing the matter on Thursday.
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