Delhi: Violence at doorstep, several students say can’t study, sleep

Aranya Shankar

Vehicles torched during violence in Mustafabad. Praveen Khanna

Riots that took place in parts of Northeast Delhi over the last few days have left many schoolgoing children scarred. With exams postponed, schools shut, and their neighbourhoods gripped with tension, several children are worried about their academics, friends and the future.

Aliyah Mansoori (17), a class XI student of a school in Dayalpur, said she has been traumatised since her home in Shiv Vihar was attacked by rioters. She and her family have since shifted to a relative’s place in Mustafabad.

“On Monday around 3 pm, we saw a mob gathering outside our locality... we could see them going on a rampage. I had started calling police on 100 but nobody picked up. Somehow, by night, we grabbed whatever little we could and left,” she said.

One of the only things Aliyah grabbed was her Business Studies course book. “My exam was due on February 26 but it got postponed because the school closed due to violence. I don’t know what will happen when school opens because my uniform and other books are back home, and we are too scared to go there. These days, I sit with my book (Business Studies) open and just stare at the pages. Nothing is registering,” she said.

At Shiv Vihar, Himanshu (18), a class XII student of the Government Boys Senior Secondary School at Gokulpuri, spoke of a similar fear. While his house and those next to it were spared, other houses in the area weren’t as lucky.

“This is the first time in four days that I have even stepped outside my home and exited my lane. Otherwise, we are so scared that we haven’t even been able to sleep. Everyone is staying up at night in turns to keep vigil in the area. I have forgotten everything I had studied for my English board exam that is to be held on March 3. But padhai ki tension kum hai. Jaan sabse pehle hai,” he said.

Ayush Kalauni, all of eight years old, had to run from one place to the next on the day of riots but hasn’t been able to fully grasp what happened. At the time when the family was trying to escape a mob, he kept saying “papa gaon kab chalenge”, thinking the family is heading home to their native village.

Vishal Kumar, who studies in class V in a school in Bhagirathi Vihar, said his parents have asked him not to go towards Indira Vihar. The stretch that borders Indira Vihar and Bhagirathi Vihar saw riots Tuesday, with many houses being burnt.

Aman Verma, who also lives in the same locality, said, “We never taught our children who is Hindu and Muslim but now everyone talks about this. In last two days, our children have learnt to differentiate between these two religions. This is not a good thing.”

(Inputs from Abhinav Rajput)