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The aftermath of Delhi violence: Rescue operations on war footing as death toll rises

Amidst the chaos of stone pelting and burning down of houses several victims remained stranded for hours in the unknown galis of the localities.

SNS | New Delhi |

While Delhi continues to witness the rising death toll number post the communal riots, various organizations, rescuers and volunteers have come forward to rescue the victims. Mustafabad, Chandbagh, Jafrabad, Gokalpuri are a few of the majorly hit areas of North East Delhi where violence created a state of panic and terror among the residents.

Amidst the chaos of stone-pelting and burning down of houses, several victims remained stranded for hours in the unknown galis of the localities. Priya Pillai, a rescuer who is a part of the initiative called Citizen Collective for Peace recounts the innumerable distress calls they received the night after the incident. Having rescued almost 1300 people, she says their team is constantly working in a loop when at least one person is always present at the ground level to help the injured. Their team is simultaneously coordinating with the Gurudwaras in MKT, Bangla Sahib and also helping them reach their relatives’ houses.

Following the midnight High Court hearing on Tuesday, the movement of ambulances was permitted in the affected areas which hastened the rescue operations. Aabha Muralidharan, a volunteer who is also an artist, is running a rescue and relief operation through a centralized system from Kerala. Through their database, they are gathering the volunteers and looking for Gurudwaras and homes which can provide shelter to the survivors. She says their group of 50 has almost rescued 500 civilians. The relief materials are being provided according to the need. While they were able to supply one thousand food products to Maujpur area, Zafrabad and Mustafabad remained barricaded. They are seeking international help by trying to create an international treasure via universities like Oxford and Cambridge who have shown concern over the incident. Aabha has also volunteered during the Kerala floods. Students of Jamia Millia Islamia have also gathered funds and food for the people.

The repercussions of the incident can only be seen in the lives of the affected families and victims. Shiv Vihar residents still allege that there is continuous violence in the area and their property is a loss. These people have left their homes and migrated to a safer area. Sheruddin, a 31-year-old man, lost two brothers, Amir and Hashim, in the violence which went on for over three days.

Mumtaz Hashmi (28), an active volunteer in GTB Hospital and a research scholar in Jamia Millia Islamia is helping the families identify the dead bodies. She along with three-four independently working volunteers is offering legal help to the riot-hit families. Mumtaz recounts that the dead bodies are being identified and simultaneously being sent for post-mortem while the highly burnt bodies still await DNA identification. She says, “There have been cases where we have only received ashes in the name of body and in a particular case we only found one leg”.

On Thursday, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of the dead out of which Rs 1 lakh would be an instant compensation. The volunteers are continuously working in order to provide this compensation to the families.  On Monday night, two victims reportedly died during treatment in GTB hospital. The official death toll is 48 as of now. Five unidentified bodies have arrived at the RML hospital today.