Targeting sources of livelihood

Print edition : March 27, 2020

The fact-finding team of IUML interacting with the riot victims. Photo: K.M. Kader Mohideen

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), one of many organisations involved in the restoration and rehabilitation of the Delhi riot victims, has pointed out that the mob had targeted the migrant Muslim population mainly to destroy their livelihood sources. These people, all poor, had migrated from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and settled on the banks of the Yamuna in North East Delhi.

This is the disturbing inference made by a fact-finding team from the IUML, after a three-day visit to the riot-hit pockets. K.M. Kader Mohideen, national president, told Frontline that it was painful to see that people had lost everything they had earned. “For them, every day is an ordeal. They are rickshaw pullers, load men, daily wagers and sanitary workers. They are also chaiwallahs and paan sellers. Now they have lost everything. It was a systematic annihilation. Whoever engineered the riot planned his job well. Now it will take another decade or so to get them rehabilitated fully,” Kader Mohideen said.

The 31-member IUML team saw burnt houses and huts, shops, personal belongings and vehicles that had been reduced to ashes. Uniforms, books and certificates, besides personal identification cards and documents, even family portraits, were all burnt. The team also recorded the victims’ accounts and disbursed sums as initial relief to 10 families whose breadwinners were killed. Two of the 10 deceased were Hindus, and they had been killed while trying to save their Muslim neighbours from the mobs. “We heard a lot of stories of humanism cutting across religion and caste. Hindus and Sikhs risked their lives and saved several Muslim families,” said Kader Mohideen.

The IUML claimed that those responsible for the violence had been brought in from the neighbouring States. “After the inflammatory speech by the BJP functionary, the rioters systematically targeted houses, shops and business establishments run by Muslims. They threw petrol bombs, hacked and shot people, and desecrated places of worship. Twelve mosques and one dargah were found vandalised. They burnt the houses and tea shops using the LPG cylinders that were found there,” said Kader Mohideen.

A committee with members from various States was formed to coordinate the relief and rehabilitation efforts. Its members included Khorrum Anis Omer, national secretary, IUML; Shamsudeen Aboobacker, national general secretary of the All India Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre; P.K. Kunhalikutty, M.P; and M.K. Naushad (Karnataka). A team from the Tamil Nadu-based Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, comprising its leader Thol. Thirumavalavan and general secretary D. Ravikumar (both M.Ps), also visited the riot-hit areas.

Kader Mohideen said that for the poor migrant Muslims, it had become a case of “Dilli dukh ast [Delhi is full of sorrow]” today and not “Dilli door ast [Delhi is still far away]”, as the common saying goes.