On February 24, 40-year-old Dr MA Anwer was woken from his afternoon nap by urgent calls from his neighbours. Riots had broken and the doctor, who had returned from a trip to his village in Bihar that very day, was needed at the hospital.
Dr Anwer remembers that he didn't even have the time to change his clothes before rushing to Al-Hind hospital in New Mustafabad, which saved scores of lives in February when violent sectarian clashes broke out in several Hindu and Muslim majority areas across NE Delhi.
Four months since, the doctor, hailed by his neighbours as a good samaritan and an "angel", is being investigated by Delhi Police for instigating the riots.
His name has found mention in a riots-related charge sheet recently submitted by the Delhi police.
"Being punished for humanity"
"All I did was provide medical services to those who needed it. I did not even ask if the patients were Hindu or Muslim. I did what I could by virtue of humanity," Dr Anwer tells News18. The doctor, who founded Al-Hind in 2017, said that the news was both shocking and shameful.
As roads across North East Delhi remained shut amid curfew in the week following March 23 with rioters especially targeting ambulances, Dr Anwer and his brother Dr Meraj Ekram who run Al-Hind, provided emergency medical services to nearly 500 patients.
From victims with fractured skulls, broken bones, and even bullet wounds, to those who had been attacked with sticks and metal rods, the two doctors along with two nurses and one other medical professional, managed to arrange for medicines and emergency services even amid curfew and had serious patients sent to other hospitals such as GTB.
Four months since the riots which killed nearly 51 people, Dr Anwer has been named by Delhi Police in a charge sheet for the murder of Dilbar Negi, a waiter who worked at a nearby restaurant and was killed by a mob during the riots. The doctor has been accused of leading illegal anti-CAA protests and instigating mobs that committed violence during the course of the riots.
"I have never been part of any protests. I am a doctor and my job is to treat people and save lives, which is exactly what I did," Dr Anwer says.
Dr Anwer had testified in front of Justice Muralidhar at a midnight hearing held at the judge's residence on March 25 at the behest of a plea filed by filmmaker Rahul Roy seeking safe passage for ambulances ferrying severely injured victims to the better-equipped GTB hospital.
The doctor feels that naming him in the charge sheet may be the result of his efforts in securing safe passage for the ambulances. "The midnight hearing drew attention to the lack of efficiency shown by Delhi Police. I feel they are targeting me for the same," the doctor tells News18.
Following the riots, Dr Anwer was called in several times for questioning. Each session lasted for several hours. "I told them I had nothing to do with the protests. I told them I was just a doctor doing my job. Yet they kept calling me," Dr Anwer recalls, adding that he was even called for questioning during Ramzaan and made to wait for hours outside the police station.
"I am a medical professional. Sucha a case will not only tarnish my name in the medical community but also damage my reputation among the community of doctors which includes members across religions," Dr Anwer worries.
"An angel in disguise"
The news of Dr Anwer being named in Delhi Police's charge sheet has left not only the doctor but also locals appalled.
Speaking to news18, Mustafabad resident Shahik Khan says that the services provided by Dr Anwer during that fateful week in February helped save many lives. "It was Dr Anwer who managed to get the ambulances moving, it was upon his word the local chemists opened their godowns and provided the hospital with medicines," Khan, who owns a jewellery store in the neighbourhood, says.
"He is not just a doctor, he is a 'farishta' - an angel in disguise," Khan says.
Wasim, 23, who runs a barber-shop next-door to Al-Hind, recalls the days of the riots as chaotic and scary. Wasim, who had been lending his hand at the hospital to shave the heads of riots victims says that it was Dr Anwer who convinced him to work as maskeshift barbers. "He taught us how to provide basic first-aid to victims and how to shave their heads so that they can be further treated," Wasim says.
Wasim said that had it not been for Dr Anwer and Dr Meraj, many lives of victims would have been lost.
Back at AL Hind, Dr Anwer continues to treat patients with diligence and regularity, despite bouts of ill health.
"I have full confidence in the judiciary and India's justice system," he says before hanging up the phone. A patient with a seasonal cough had just approached his chamber and the doctor decides to move on with his day.