They say love is blind and often you end up having scant control of your heart and hence, your actions. In the world that we live in today marked by new modes of communal strife, falling in love without knowing much about your suitor can land you in serious trouble. That is what Neetu Yadav of Baraut in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district found out, as have many before her.
Neetu got married in 2012 to a man from the same caste. The couple had a four-year-old son. However, the marriage soon hit rough waters. The couple separated in 2017, but Neetu was not allowed the custody of her child as she was unemployed. She returned to her parents’ place after her divorce. She had received Rs 2 lakh as part of the mutual separation, but her parents felt it was too little an amount and started pressurising her to extract more compensation from her divorced husband. Neetu refused. Tired of the demands, she left her parents’ house and began living in a rented accommodation in a nearby village.
Following the breakdown of her marriage, Neetu strove to stand on her feet and be financially self-sufficient. She enrolled herself in a nursing course in Noida. Soon, she started working part-time in a private nursing home in Loni. When her year-long course completed, she got full-time employment as a resident nurse at one Rashidiya hospital hospital in Baraut.
There, she came across a man, who introduced himself as Aksh. They became ‘friends’ and grew closer. ‘Aksh’ was a Unani medicine practitioner at the hospital. They soon graduated from being mere friends. Aksh told Neetu about his divorce and his child. He also enquired about Neetu’s relationship status.
Within a few months of seeing each other, Aksh proposed marriage to Neetu. He said that he longed for a family and a mother for his child. Neetu could not make up her mind immediately, but she not only had a soft corner for Aksh, but she had also fallen in love with him.
Neetu decided to take a rented accommodation outside of the hospital, where Aksh began to visit her in the afternoons. Soon, she became pregnant. Neetu had already gone through the trauma of a divorce and being separated from a child whom she had given birth to. She now started to believe that life had taken a turn for the better. After all, she had found true love and was going to be a mother again.
This time, she was certain that her husband and child would be staying with her. It would be the end of her woes, she hoped. She asked Aksh for a formal marriage; he assured her it’s a mere formality and he would get it done as soon as possible.
However, that was not to be. Fate pulled the rug from under her feet so violently that she was left battered, bruised and shell-shocked. Aksh revealed his true identity in June 2020 when Neetu was one-month pregnant. The Aksh that Neetu had loved and trusted as her saviour and the hero of her life was in reality, Akram Qureshi and a married man. It turned out that Akram was never divorced but had a wife, who too was pregnant.
Neetu met Akram’s wife Rukhsar to confirm this. The meeting turned out to be bitter. As per Neetu, Rukhsar attacked her verbally, calling her a vile prostitute who had seduced her unsuspecting husband. Rukhsar tried to occupy a moral high ground and told her that she was carrying Akram’s legitimate child.
An unrepentant Akram asked Neetu to be his second wife, saying it’s “allowed in his religion”. This was shocking beyond words for a Hindu woman, who had grown up considering monogamy to be morally and legally binding. Neetu felt cheated again. Her love was consigned to the dustbin with such disdain that she wondered if life would ever do justice to her. What sins was she paying for, that too repeatedly? Neetu wondered.
Neetu decided to part ways with Akram. There was no way that she could stay with a charlatan who had cooked up a story to trap a gullible woman. Who knew what more ordeals lay ahead. She realised she would be forced to change her religion to be a second wife. She realised she had fallen prey to “love jihad”, a popular term for the diabolical methods by which Muslim men have been known to entice and ensnare women from other religions in the name of romance and then forcefully convert them to add to the Muslim numbers. Demographic dividend in this polarised world is like gold dust.
Neetu, however, was not someone to go down without a fight, and she found a pillar of support in the form of Sewa Nyaya utthan co-founder Swati Goel Sharma. Neetu registered an FIR against Akram and his family, and Sharma brought the story out in the open through her fearless reporting for Swarajya magazine. Not only that, after knowing Neetu’s plight, Sharma and her foundation decided to do everything in their power to make Neetu’s life better.
Since Neetu was well-versed in nursing, Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation spent Rs 1.2 lakh and gifted her a nursing home comprising two beds. This was designed to put Neetu firmly on the path of financial self-reliance and stability.
Neetu is a strong woman, whose fight even while being pregnant, is an inspiration to one and all, and should serve to motivate all those girls who have been silently suffering as victims of cheating or ”love jihad” and feeling too scared to speak up. Today, Akram’s father keeps calling Neetu, begging her to take her case back, mentioning Akram’s pregnant wife and young child, trying to earn Neetu’s sympathy. Neetu, however, is relentless and has vowed not to rest until the cheaters are brought to book.
At the time of filing the police case, Neetu was six months’ pregnant. In January 2021, she delivered her baby, prematurely. Doctors told her the child won’t survive unless immediately taken to a good hospital in Delhi. Neetu rushed to Delhi with helped of a colleague. She could not find a bed in any government hospital. She was running out of time.
Then, Neetu approached us again.
With full financial support from our foundation, Neetu got her child admitted in a private hospital in Dilshad Garden. The child remained on ventilator for a week. Thankfully, she survived. Neetu again thanked us profusely for the timely help. She even offered to volunteer for the foundation as a gesture of thanks.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation is extremely proud of Neetu and the exceptional courage shown by her at a time when any other pregnant woman would have wanted to keep hassles at arm’s length. Neetu, however, had nothing to lose. She knew nothing about love jihad till she almost fell a victim to it, and now she has decided to fight it tooth and nail. Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation is grateful to all its sahyogis, without whom, it could not have helped Neetu to the extent that it has.
The Covid-19 pandemic that struck last year brought the world to its knees. People died by the thousands and those who survived the coronavirus or were spared by it could not escape the destruction of livelihoods. The lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the virus brought the country to a standstill; people struggled to find two square meals a day. They were staring at extreme uncertainty. The daily wagers and the other unprivileged sections of society suffered the most and became more and more vulnerable as organisations shut down and sources of income vanished.
Many of those, who had come to big cities in the hope of earning a better living, were suddenly left high and dry. Some of them braved the virus and the crackdown by law enforcement personnel and started the long and arduous trek back home, where they could be with their near and dear ones in a time of crisis and would have at least something to eat. Those who stayed back were faced with despair.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation rushed to the aid of those stricken individuals and families. Our founders sent out volunteers with the task of identifying families that were in need of support. Although we could not pay them a regular salary, we ensured that they had enough to eat.
One such family was that of Sapna Devi. A daily wager, Sapna used to stay in Delhi with her family of four. She found her work to be severely affected because of the lockdown. Whatever Sapna had saved nearly dried up within a few weeks of the lockdown. Her family had run out of ration. Luckily, one of our volunteers Vijay got in touch with the family and delivered all essential supplies. We assured Sapna of every support whenever required.
Maya and her family members were also in dire straits. Delhi faced the twin crises of riots and lockdown last year. The worst affected areas housed the daily wagers and labourers. These sections were troubled the most as a result of the lockdown. Maya, a daily wage worker and a widow, was somehow managing to look after her family, but suddenly the pandemic broke out. The family did not know where the next meal would come from. Our volunteers were going door to door to locate the families in need. The volunteers met Maya and her family members and provided them with essential supplies.
Mukesh, a painter, used to brighten the walls of buildings, but his own life was surrounded by darkness. First, the riots and then the lockdown wreaked havoc in his life. The sudden lack of daily work hit him hard. Mukesh belonged to a category of workers, whose earning is largely seasonal. Soon Mukesh’s savings vanished and his family also ran out of essential supplies. Our volunteers met Mukesh and his family members and provided them with food and ration.
We met Suresh (name changed) in Delhi’s Shiv Vihar. Suresh stayed and worked at Gandhi Nagar. His wife used to stitch clothes for a living. The duo were somehow managing to raise their kids when disaster struck in the form of the lockdown. The family was struggling to feed itself. Our volunteers Kartikeya and Vandana reached out to Suresh and his family members and provided them with all the essential supplies, including our lockdown relief ration kit.
The foundation also jumped to the rescue of auto-rickshaw driver Ravi (name changed). There were no passengers for Ravi’s auto-rickshaw and work stopped due to the lockdown. The family hoped that things would soon be normal, but the lockdown kept stretching on. The family of seven was faced with starvation. Seeing our work in their locality, Ravi and his family members approached our volunteers, and soon found us standing behind them as a source of support. We made arrangements for essential supplies for Ravi and his family too.
If you are impressed by our sewa work, don’t forget to support us so that we can save many such families in need.
Delhi burnt at the start of last year as rabid mobs ran amok on the streets, looting, killing and vandalising as the entire world watched in horror. The protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act soon assumed communal colours and innocent people with no stake in the protests suffered. So the capital was hit by misfortune even before the pandemic struck, and when the pandemic did strike, families were completely devastated.
Amar Kumar, a resident of northeast Delhi, which was the epicentre of the riots, had his shop burnt down during the riots. His house was looted and mobs assaulted him as well. Amar’s family lost everything. The lockdown came close on the heels of the riots and Amar’s family sank deeper into crisis. The family had no way to sustain itself. One of our volunteers met him and his family members during our riot rehabilitation drive. Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation supported Amar and his family in whatever way that we could. We continued to support Amar later too.
Giriraj Sharma from Delhi’s Maujpura area sustained severe head injuries after a mob attacked him with an iron rod. He said he was beaten up for trying to protect a temple in his area. Giriraj had multiple stitches on his head. As a result of the injury, he had to miss work and also had to shell out a lot of money for his treatment. Not being from a well-to-do family, Giriraj struggled to bear all the expenses. When our volunteers shared Giriraj’s story with our founders, they made it a point that all possible help can be delivered to Giriraj and his family.
Vinod (name changed) and his three friends were caught unawares on February 24 last year when they had ventured out of their house to buy milk. Vinod and his friends were attacked within 200m of his house. Vinod sustained head injuries. They were shell-shocked and left to die. Vinod and his friends were somehow rescued and received medical assistance. They still can’t believe what happened to them on that fateful February day. Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation extended help to Vinod as part of its riot rehabilitation drive.
Rajendra Kumar Arora of northeast Delhi’s Moonga Nagar area also received help from our riot rehabilitation fund. A street vendor by profession, the elderly Arora used to run a small shop. One day, he had raised the shutters of his shop as usual. The area was in the grip of a pogrom at that time. Little did Arora know that he would soon be faced with the darkest day of his life. A bloodthirsty mob attacked and vandalised his shop, throwing all his belongings onto the street. Arora ran for his life. With our help, he was able to set up his shop again. The elderly Arora’s fight even after such a massive tragedy is extremely inspiring.
Shishpal, a tea-seller, from Moonga Nagar also has a similar story to share. Moonga Nagar falls in northeast Delhi, which was one of the areas worst hit by the riots. His shop was attacked and vandalised by a mob. Shishpal had gone to open his shop when he came under attack. Traumatised, Shishpal tried to save his only source of income but failed. He ran for his life. The riots left Shishpal with a broken cart and lost hope. Our volunteers met Shishpal and extended support. Then when the going got tough during the lockdown, we provided him with ration kits as well.
Another resident of Moonga Nagar who faced the brunt of the riots was Pooran Singh. He is from a lower middle-class background and lived in a big joint family. The family was somehow managing to survive, but the riots brought about large-scale destruction. A mob targeted Pooran’s house, pelted stones at it and vandalised the belongings, not even sparing the ration that was there in the house. The distressed family, seeing our sewa work, approached us. We transferred an immediate relief fund and also provided the family with essential supplies.
Subhash Gupta from northeast Delhi used to run a garment shop and a godown. Mobs went on the rampage in his area and Gupta’s shop and belongings were gutted. Even his house was partially burnt. The lockdown that followed made Gupta’s situation even worse. His savings had run thin and his shop needed renovation before it could open again. We met him during our riot rehabilitation drive and helped him with an immediate fund transfer and also with essential supplies.
Kaushal and family members, who belong to the scheduled caste category, were left in terrible trauma after the riots. They witnessed severe damage to their property and things went from bad to worse as a result of the lockdown. The income source of the family was badly disrupted and the family members sought our help. We were happy to support Kaushal and his family members with our riot rehabilitation fund.
Somdutt, who had migrated to Delhi from Rajasthan’s Alwar and was working in the capital, was stabbed with a knife during the riots. Somdutt belongs to a lower-middle-class family. We met him and his family after we came to know of their plight. The family members burst into tears while narrating the story of the assault. Somdutt’s condition was serious when we met him in the hospital. After recovering a little, he went back to his village and is yet to return to Delhi. Even after he had left Delhi, we were in contact with him.
If you feel that our sewa work has been worthwhile, do support us so that we can help many families like these.
For many, the strict nationwide lockdown imposed last year to break the chain of coronavirus infections provided a rare and welcome break from maddening work schedules and pressing deadlines. For those working from the comforts of their homes, it gave the opportunity to spend time with their families. There were, however, financial hits to bear for nearly everybody. For the underprivileged sections of society, the loss of livelihood became difficult to withstand, and for those whose professions demanded them to go out on the streets, the lockdown came as a killer blow.
We can proudly say today that our timely intervention helped saved three families who depended on their three-wheelers. We helped them in getting back on their feet after their vehicles were as shooed away from the streets as a result of the lockdown.
The streets were deserted and auto-rickshaw driver Prabendra Kumar was forced to cool his heels at home. The lockdown drove passengers away and Prabendra’s savings dried up. His family ran out of supplies and did not even have money to buy groceries. We learnt about Prabendra’s plight from our teams that regularly visited slums and daily wagers’ colonies. We arranged for immediate supplies so that Prabendra and his family did not go hungry.
We had stood staunchly behind the victims of the Delhi riots a few months earlier and the lockdown brought with it newer and stiffer challenges. We saw from close quarters how uncertain the lives of slum-dwellers had become. Our founders had been sending volunteers to find families in dire need of help. We found families struggling for even the most basic needs of life.
Like Prabendra Kumar, Satendra (name changed) used to drive an auto-rickshaw for a living. His work was severely dented by the lockdown and his family was reeling under crisis. One of our volunteers Rahul met the family during our lockdown ration distribution drive. We at once provided the family with the necessary supplies.
Sablu Kumar, who pulls a rickshaw in northeast Delhi’s Shiv Vihar area, also received our help to tide over the lockdown woes. He was already struggling when the lockdown was imposed and the sudden disappearance of passengers pushed him further into trouble as his job stopped fetching the little money that it was fetching. Sablu and his family of six struggled to make ends meet.
Our volunteer Kartikeya, himself a resident of Shiv Vihar, met Sablu and narrated to our founders Sablu’s story. We helped him with immediate supplies. Inspired by our sewa work, Sablu subsequently became our volunteer and helped us reach others crying for help. He became a Sewa Nyaya volunteer himself for the ration distribution drive. Now that the lockdown has been lifted and with Sablu’s rickshaw not earning him much, he turned to vegetable vending. Sablu has been someone who has frequently received help from us.
Our relationship with our beneficiaries has been enduring and we do not forget them after we extend help. We have supported them every time they have run into trouble. We are grateful to volunteers like Rahul and Kartikeya, who dared to venture out of their homes at a time when the coronavirus was running amok and selflessly serve humanity. Your support would allow indefatigable volunteers like Rahul and Kartikeya to work with even greater motivation.
Delhi last year was torn apart by some of the worst riots in its history; surely the biggest since the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984. Families lost their breadwinners. Many turned homeless overnight. Others lost their livelihoods.
Shyam Sahni lives in northeastern part of the city, which was one of the worst affected by the riots. He used to run a tea stall on rent and had a rented accommodation for him and his family on the floor above. Rioters looted his house and vandalised his shop. They carried away Shyam’s six gas cylinders and stocks of ration. Shyam and his family barely escaped with their lives with the help of their landlord. We met the family as part of our riot rehabilitation drive. We helped the family with a relief fund. We also made sure they were regular beneficiaries of a month-long free food drive in the area during lockdown.
Subhash Gupta was another victim of the Delhi riots. He had a garment shop and godown. His shop was looted and set afire, and was partially burnt. Like Shyam, Subhash also escaped with his life. His earnings of lifetime was tuned into ashes. Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation offered a monetary grant from its riot rehabilitation fund to help him in reviving his life and livelihood. Even if we were not able to turn his shop new again, we certainly ensured that the shop is well-stocked. Our indefatigable volunteers have worked day in and day out to help those like Subhash, who badly need it.
Chandrapal Singh, a 66-year-old vegetable seller, found his cart destroyed by the rioters. Chandrapal and his family lost their only source of living. After learning of their plight, we sent them immediate help, with which Chandrapal could resurrect his business. The courageous Chandrapal never gave up despite terrible odds and desrves respect for that.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation has always tried to rescue families that have been driven to the edge of collapse as a result of misfortune. Our volunteers and sahyogis have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us to realise our sewa goals. They have hit the streets even when the rest of the society had chosen to stay indoors. We have sought to build a human chain, whereby if one falls, others undertake rescues. The rescued families have never ceased to thank us.
Arun Kashyap, a resident of Shiv Vihar, which was one of the focal points of last year’s riots in Delhi, was disconsolate sitting in an empty room. Goons had carried nearly everything away, stealing, looting, vandalising and filling up their pockets. The attackers also destroyed the furniture.
Arun was one among the many residents in these riot-hit areas of the capital who were not only attacked, but also had their homes and livelihoods destroyed, businesses ransacked. The nature of the attacks gives credence to the view that the rioters carefully identified the households to be targeted before carrying out their plans.
Arun had recently purchased a small flat in Shiv Vihar and shifted all his belongings there. His savings of a lifetime evaporated, as rioters went berserk and Arun could do nothing but watch helplessly.
Arun’s miseries were narrated to us by a local man named Vijay Kashyap, whom we had helped by reviving his shop and by standing strongly behind him when his sister was admitted to a hospital.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation soon sent its volunteers to meet Arun. Indeed, our volunteers reached out to many families residing in Shiv Vihar and rendered support. They shared their grief with other riot-hit families, and in this way, a human chain and a strong source of support was created. Arun was emotionally broken. We immediately arranged for some emergency funds.
We were not able to restore everything that Arun had lost, but we tried whatever we could to help Arun get back on his feet as quickly as possible.
Thankfully, Arun is doing much better now. It’s been a year since the violence, and our team often goes to the riot-hit spots to check on the victims.