Families of those who died in the violence wait outside GTB Hospital on Wednesday. (Express photo: Amit Mehra)
A newly married man, a carpenter, a DJ, a businessman, a construction worker and a father who went to buy toffees for his children — they are among the 27 people who died during the violent clashes that gripped several areas of Northeast Delhi for the past three days. While the bodies lay inside mortuaries, grieving families waited outside to take them home. While the toll stood at 13 on Tuesday night, it reached 27 on Wednesday as either those already injured succumbed or others came in with wounds suffered over the past two days.
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Those identified at GTB Hospital so far are Deepak Kumar (34); Ishaq Khan (24); Mohd Mudassir (30); Vir Bhan (50); Mohd Mubarak Hussain (28); Shan Mohd (35); Parvesh (48); Zakhir (24); Mehtaab (22); Ashfaq (22); Rahul Solanki (26); Shahid (25); Mohd Furkan (30); Rahul Thakur (23); Ratan Lal (42); Ankit Sharma (26); Dilbar; Mohsin Ali (24) and Vinod Kumar (50). Two deaths were reported from Lok Nayak Hospital, Mahruf Ali (30) and Aman (17). The rest were yet to be identified.
Ashfaq Hussain (22), a resident of Mustafabad, was returning from work on Tuesday when he was stabbed twice in the neck. He had also sustained five bullet injuries. An electrician, he died later that night at Al Hind Hospital. His body was brought to GTB Hospital in the morning.
His wife, Tasneem, said they got married on February 14. “He wanted to come home early from work, but he could not make it because of the violence,” said his aunt, Azra Khatoo. After waiting several hours, Hussain’s family left at 7.30 pm and said they will return Thursday for the body.
Twenty five deaths were reported at GTB Hospital, while two more were reported from Lok Nayak Hospital. A total of 330 people sustained injuries.
Aman was out to buy milk when he was shot in his face at Jafrabad Metro station, said a volunteer for a lawyers’ collective who spoke to the family. The bullet cut through his cheeks.
Vivek Chaudhary (19), who was admitted to the neuro-surgery ward of the hospital after a water motor was pushed inside his head, was operated successfully on Wednesday. Doctors at the hospital removed the machine. His sister, Babita sat close to his bed while Chaudhary was unconscious after the surgery.
Taking the body of his father, Nitin Kumar (25) recalled how they were attacked by a group of men while they were heading to buy medicine in Brahmpuri. With a bandage on his head and a swollen eye, Kumar told The Indian Express: “The mob also set my bike on fire. My father and I were lying on the road... some people took us to the hospital.”
Another victim, Mehtab (21), had stepped out in Brijpuri on Tuesday evening to buy milk. A construction worker, he lived with his mother, sister, brothers and their families in a gali where both Hindus and Muslims live. “I told him not to go but he said he wanted to have tea. After he left, some families locked the gate to our gali and he couldn’t get inside. As he walked away, a group grabbed him by the collar and dragged him. We banged on the gates and pleaded with them to let him go. A while later, his sister received a call saying ‘Mahtab ko aag ke hawale kiya gaya hai,” alleged his sister-in-law, Yasmin.
On Wednesday evening, 24 year-old Mohsin Ali’s family came running to the mortuary in search of their son, who hadn’t returned home since Tuesday evening. At 6.30 pm, they found his body inside. A native of Hapur, Ali got married two months ago. He sustained injuries to his head.
While the hospital handed over five bodies on Wednesday evening, other families expressed anger over the delay.
Zakir Saifi (26), a resident of Brijpuri who worked as a welder, also died on Tuesday evening. His sister Sitara said: “He went to pray in a mosque near Brijpuri Puliyan and was shot on the way. Our brother has a shop there and found out about the incident. He was shot and stabbed.”
At Lok Nayak Hospital, families of Maruf Ali and Aman came to identify the bodies. Ali, a resident of Bhajanpura, was with a group of men when another group shot at him. Firoz, his brother-in-law, said, “We heard sloganeering and shots being fired. Then a group shot at us.”
At least four people suffered acid burns in the violence. In Shiv Vihar, as shops were being torched and looted, a family of five sought refuge on the terrace of a two-storey house. Unbeknownst to them, men below flung acid bottles to the terrace. One of them hit Mohd Vakeel (52), who owns a shop at Shiv Vihar, in the face. A few drops splashed on his daughter Anam (19).
Elderly woman dead
An 85-year-old woman, Akbari, died after her family’s home in Gamri village was set on fire, said her family. Her son, Mohammad Saeed Salmani, operated a garments workshop on the first two floors of his house.
He said: “On Tuesday, I had stepped out of my home to buy milk. When I came back, there were 100-150 people in front of our gali. They broke through the gate, set fire to the first two floors... My children and wife ran but my mother had difficulty moving because of her age.”