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As normalcy returns to Delhi, kin of victims face police apathy, burdened with hardships

Normalcy seems to be returning in Delhi after days of violence over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) marked certain areas, especially in the northeast district, in the national capital.

In these trying times, efforts should be focused on rehabilitating the worst-affected, however, that does not seem to be the case. Throughout Friday, the families of those who lost their lives were seen to be facing police apathy, lack of coordination and delay in getting the bodies of their loved ones outside the mortuary of the government hospitals.

Many such families, which lost their loved one, narrated their woes outside the GTB Hospital mortuary to reporters. Grieving relatives, who lost their loved ones in a communal riot in northeast Delhi, said the least the authorities could do is be “sympathetic” to them.

The family of one Ashfaq Hussain had been waiting at the hospital since Wednesday to get his body. Hussain, who had got married on February 14, was killed during the violence that erupted in northeast Delhi earlier this week.

“They (the hospital authorities) have not even kept the bodies in a freezer. The bodies have started decomposing and the smell is emanating from them,” said Hussain’s brother.

Another relative of Hussain said, “The authorities are not doing anything. If the GTB Hospital doesn’t have facilities for conducting an autopsy of many bodies in a day, they should have sent the bodies to other hospitals.”

The violence that unfolded in areas of northeast Delhi like Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Babarpur, Chand Bagh, Shiv Vihar, Bhajan Pura, and Yamuna Vihar earlier this week has claimed at least 42 lives and has left more than 200 injured. The region saw brutal violence since February 23. Violence erupted in North-East Delhi after clashes broke out between anti-CAA and pro CAA groups. Several shops have been set ablaze and cases of stone-pelting and arson have been witnessed.

Shops were burnt and people armed with sticks and rods were on streets in Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh and Karawal Nagar in northeast Delhi.

The family of Dilbar Singh Negi had come from Uttarakhand to claim his body and said they were made to run for paperwork in a city that they are not familiar with.

“We are from Uttarakhand and we do not know which police station is located where. We were asked to go to the Gokalpuri police station to complete the formalities, where we were made to sit the whole day. We have already experienced a tragedy but things like these are more hurting us,” said a family member of Negi.

Many other families said the Delhi Police could have set up a help desk for families.

“There are many families who come here every day and go back dejected. Many of them are uneducated and do not even have relevant documents and face trouble in paperwork. We are trying to assist them,” said Mumtaz, a lawyer from Krishna Nagar, who has been helping families outside the hospital’s mortuary.

Nasir, brother of Aamir and Hashim, who were killed during the riots, said the family is waiting for the bodies for burial. “The autopsy has not been conducted yet. I have learnt that the autopsy will be conducted tomorrow,” he said.

A family member of a deceased, requesting anonymity, said, “We have heard from other persons too and even experienced ourselves that when we call up the investigating officer of our case for some paperwork, he says he was unwell. Even other families experienced similar things where the IO in the case says he was either in the court or posted in the riot-hit area.”

The Delhi Police has made a fresh appeal to the people, urging them to come forward and give statements regarding the violence that had ensued over the past few days and share relevant pictures and video footage with the cops.

Two helpline numbers – 8750871221 and 8750871227 have also been issued for the explicit purpose of witnesses to contact and share information regarding the incidents of violence in northeast Delhi.

Two Special Investigation Teams (SIT) have been constituted under the Crime Branch, to review the situation and investigate the Delhi Riots.

(With PTI inputs)

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