Shop Destroyed, Home Burnt: The Economic Fallout of Delhi Violence

From burnt down shops to charred transport vehicles, violence in northeast Delhi has left its people in doldrums.

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Camera: Sumit Badola, SK Maurya, Anthony Rozario & Sravya MG

Video Editor: Sandeep Suman

As mass-scale violence and arson took over the streets of northeast Delhi on 24 February, 22-year-old Shafia called the landlord of her cosmetics shop in Gokulpuri to know if her establishment was intact. Living at the centre of unrest in Maujpur, she was somewhat relieved to know that her two-month-old venture was left untouched.

The next morning, when she called again to ask if the tension was on the wane, her landlord told her what she had been dreading for two days. “The shutter of your shop was broken in the morning and it has been ransacked,” she was informed.

Having invested over five lakhs from her ailing father’s savings, Shafia rushed to the shop with her mother, only to find her dream enterprise in shatters.

“The shutter was pulled down and and the landlord had already handed over all broken tables and other things to MCD. When I tried entering the shop, a huge mob gathered at the market and asked me to leave, else they would burn me down too.”
Shafia

Scared and heart-broken from the loss of her family’s only source of livelihood, Shafia went back home in tears. “We had just invested and were yet to get returns. We were about to open a beauty parlour and had even purchased equipments for it. But they stole everything,” she says.

With only glass pieces left from an investment of five lakhs, the 22-year-old’s family of four has no other source of revenue to turn to. Amid all this, her landlord has reportedly asked her to vacate.

When questioned, he said “it is upto them now. If something happens tomorrow, I don’t want to responsible for it.”

Dream Shop Shattered

While Shafia’s father had invested his entire savings in the business, Yogendar Sharma had sold off his village land in order to set up a restaurant – a couple of meters away from the burnt-down petrol pump near Chand Bagh.

But even before his eatery could complete a year, it fell victim to a mob which set it on fire, destroying everything. “I had a party the next day and had procured raw materials for it. All of it was destroyed and had to be thrown away,” he says.

“We had invested everything in the restaurant and were barely earning enough to sustain ourselves. I need at least Rs 30 lakhs to bring it back to life. Right now, I don’t even have Rs 30,000 with me.”
Yogendar Sharma

Both of Sharma’s sons depend on the restaurant for their livelihood, the destruction of which has brought the family to such a state that they “do not have enough money to pay for food”.

No Place to Call Home

Both Shafia and Sharma may have had their dreams shattered at the hands of plundering mobs, but they still have a place to call home, a place they can go back to sleep at.

Yet, Nazira Khatun isn’t as lucky. A mob that wreaked havoc in her lane, burnt her rented house down, along with the stock of lingerie that her family members used to pack for a supplier.

“We had Rs 50,000 at home that was burnt. We had a business of packing lingerie, all of which was burnt. Our children were driving an E-rickshaw (that was set ablaze). Items for my daughter’s wedding too were burnt.”
Nazia Khatun

With all sources of livelihood gone and payments to be made to the lingerie supplier, Khatun now fears that the relative sheltering the family of ten may soon ask them to leave.

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