Amongst the 20 and counting deaths in Delhi's violence-struck North-East area is a 20-year-old college student, Alf Riza's uncle. He was shot dead on Tuesday morning in Maujpur area while he was looking out of his house. On speaking with SheThePeople, Riza alleges that his neighbour fired on him. Riza's uncle is survived by his wife, two sons and a young daughter.
A student of Delhi University, Riza says that while her uncle, who was the cousin of her father, lived in Maujpur - a predominantly Muslim area, she lives in a locality which has mostly Hindu families residing in it. "The majority of people here are Hindu, so such violence has not ensued here," she says.
"The tensions had relatively calmed down in the area, and so my uncle just got out of his house to check if everything was fine. Meanwhile, his neighbour, who lived a few houses away, shot him at sight," she alleges. She adds that this is "heart-wrenching" as she has never seen this kind of hatred before in her life.
Helplessness in the face of intolerance
"I feel scared and helpless, as we cannot even go out of our homes in peace. The past few days have made me even more worried", Riza says.
"There is no other place to go"
Riza also talks about people constantly asking Muslims to leave the country as she says, "If you tell us to go out of Delhi to stay safe, we still can. But if you tell us to leave India, where will we go? This is the only home I have known."
"I was born here and plan to stay here. My whole life, I have had very few Muslim friends and was always surrounded by people from other religions. I feel helpless right now and cannot even study for my exam tomorrow."
"If you tell us to go out of Delhi to stay safe, we still can. But if you tell us to leave India, where will we go? This is the only home I have known."
Voices of Dissent
Riza says that she finds her college to be a safe space to voice dissent. This is because all her friends are very supportive and empathetic. But she has faced a lot of trolling online, as on social media people have sent her hate messages in the past. Due to this, she had to deactivate her account. "I think I was too tired to reply and ignore so many messages flooding my inbox. My mental health is of utmost priority, and I do not wish to engage in one-sided conversations."
Riza blames the authorities for not taking appropriate steps to curb violence and take steps to educate people. The college-goer also states that the media's portrayal of the death toll is underestimated.
Many inhabitants of Northeast Delhi, who had been confined in their homes as violence erupted outside for two days, were saved on Wednesday with the aid of police and locals. Among those rescued was a sexagenarian tenant of Mustafabad, Nawab. As police officials reached out to him, a teary-eyed Nawab Malik, who had been restricted to his home for two days with his wife, said that he had not seen such brutality in decades.
With peace songs, protest poems, and banners against brutality and for communal peace, hundreds assembled at the Jantar Mantar on Wednesday. They requested for love and unity in the riots-hit Northeast Delhi.
The US Embassy in India announced a security alert, warning American citizens that it is necessary to monitor local media outlets for updates on demonstrations, road and Metro closures, and potential curfews.
Security personnel, including paramilitary forces, sent flag marches in riot-hit areas. This included areas of Chand Bagh, Jaffrabad, Bhajanpura, Yamuna Vihar and Maujpur on Wednesday. Meantime, CBSE delayed Class 12 English exam scheduled for Thursday at 73 centres in Northeast Delhi and seven in east Delhi.
Saumya Rastogi is an intern with SheThePeople.TV