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.
Watch Shyam Sahni’s story here:
Watch Chandarpal’s story here:
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.
The Shiv Vihar area of Delhi was one of the focal points of communal clashes that broke out in the city in 2020.
Amarpal, who practises ayurveda, had a clinic in the area. His clinic was among the first few shops and buildings that were attacked. Amarpal, like many others, lost his livelihood in the riots.
Amarpal had shifted to that spot not too long ago. He had renovated the shop and decorated it with brand new furniture. Little did he know that the shiny wood of the furniture would soon turn into ashes.
The rioters hurled petrol bombs at Amarpal’s shop. Everything from furniture and medicines to documents were burnt. Amarpal could do nothing but weep and curse his fate.
We came to know about Amarpal’s plight from our volunteers, many of whom are residents of Shiv Vihar themselves.
Our founders transferred a relief fund to Amarpal. He thanked us from the core of his heart for taking a bit of burden off his shoulders.
People watching the riots unfold on television and reading about them in newspapers from the safety of their homes would never realise how difficult it is to wipe tears of someone whose dreams have been shattered. Nor would they fully understand the risk taken by our brave volunteers to report from the ground and take relief to the riot-affected.
Our volunteers (sahyogis) have been our pillar of strength, and without them, our efforts would not have borne fruit. Do support us in delivering relief to people, whose lives have been dented by riots, poverty, lockdown et al.
A year after the riots, our team met Amarpal again. We are glad to share that with help of funds from charities including Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation, Amarpal has been able to reopen his clinic. He is doing well.
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar enjoys cult status as the father of the Indian Constitution. In Dalit consciousness, he is a demigod. One of the greatest Indians that ever lived, Ambedkar, deserves to be venerated, but when that sentiment is used to hurt those of others, things can get problematic.
Birendra Ram from Bihar’s Kishanganj found himself at the wrong end of a fanatical Dalit group’s devotion for Ambedkar. Birendra belongs to a scheduled caste, but worships Hindu deities. Birendra used to hobnob with members of the Bhim Army. His beliefs, however, were not in sync with some of them.
One day, the two sides entered into a violence scuffle. As per a written complaint given by Birendra and his brothers to the police, Bhim Army president Deepchand Ravidas ordered him to stop worshipping Hindu deities. The party members asked him to destroy a Shiva Linga to prove his loyalty to the party and allegiance to the Dalit cause. Birendra refused to comply. His beliefs were strong. His Dalit group, however, brooked no dissent. A scuffle broke out and Birendra and his brothers Guddu were thrashed.
This entire drama played out on the occasion of Ambedkar’s birthday.
You can read a detailed report on the incident here.
All three sustained injuries, but Guddu was worst-affected. His jaw was broken. For the poverty-stricken family, this injury and the medical expenses that came in its wake, were downright disastrous. People from both sides were arrested following the scuffle.
When our founders learnt about the condition of Guddu through media reports, they reached out to help. Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation provided Guddu with an immediate fund transfer for medical treatment.
A few months later, Birendra Ram reached out to us again. While he thanked us profusely for the timely help, he shared that the brothers had not been able to go out and work, and their savings had almost run out. We helped the family again. Over time, we also helped Birendra Ram open a sweets shop.
What Amedkar has done for the emancipation of the marginalised sections of society is commendable, but when his name is used by vested interests to spew venom, the social fabric that Ambedkar himself had envisaged starts to rot.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation has always stood steadfastly behind people fighting for their rights, no matter how strong their opponents may be.
Rahul and his family members are among many of those who have seen their lives being thrown asunder by the incidents of early 2020. The riots in Delhi coupled with the pandemic-induced lockdown had snuffed out many lives and left those whom they had spared with precious little for sustenance.
The riots over the Citizenship Amendment Act, with northeast Delhi as their epicentre, targeted innocent people, who had just been doing their daily chores and going out to earn a living for their families. These people were punished just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The brutality unleashed caused many to lose faith in humanity and question the diabolical designs of politicians, who have tended to keep various sections of the society divided, which has given the politicians a chance to rule.
Rahul’s father used to run a tea cart in northeast Delhi and earn a living by serving commuters. He was making tea when he came under attack. Rahul’s father ran for dear life, as the rioters ran amok. The tea cart, which was the only source of income for Rahul’s family, was burnt down.
The family received no support from the government, which had promised to take care of every affected individual. It was Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation that rushed to the rescue of Rahul and his family during its riot rehabilitation drive.
The Delhi riots were, however, not the last of the disasters for Rahul and his family. The nationwide lockdown imposed to arrest the spread of the coronavirus ensured that Rahul’s family remained jobless and penniless for some time. The family was driven to a hand-to-mouth existence. Rahul approached us for help again and we readily agreed to provide it to him. Once again, we helped Rahul and his family tide over difficulties.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation has always tried to make individuals self-reliant and create human chains of support that can protect families that are teetering on the brink of collapse. Those who have benefited from our sewa never cease to thank us and have fallen back on us without hesitation every time that the going has got too tough. Do support our work so that we can, in turn, support those who are in the real need for it.
Imagine having a single source of income that is reaping rich dividends. You would want to protect it with all that you have. And then imagine that source of income falling apart. It can well cause your entire life to fall apart too, and make you lose faith in fate.
Sonu, a food cart owner in northeast Delhi, has had a similar tale to tell. He used to sell chhole-kulche with the help of his five brothers, and the business was all that the family had to sustain itself. The business was running well too, and the family had started dreaming of a better life.
Those dreams had no sooner grown clearer than disaster struck. Sonu and his family were caught in the crossfire of riots last year, as attackers vandalised their shop. The brothers had placed their food cart at the usual place and were going about their business when a mob went on the rampage. Little did they know at the start of the day that they would not be able to put up their food stall for quite some time to come.
As the attack happened, people started running here and there, and Sonu and his brothers also ran to take cover, leaving their food cart at the mercy of the attackers. The mob showed no mercy and destroyed the food cart.
Again, innocent people faced the brunt of a bloody political game, while the politicians paid only lip service to their promise of extending support to those affected by the riots.
With a flourishing business razed to the ground and no other options readily available, Sonu and his family saw their nights getting sleepless, mornings grief-stricken and evenings hopeless.
Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation reached out to the troubled family and extended a relief grant. Sonu thanked us for our timely support.
At times, it gets emotionally draining for us to hear about such heart-rending stories of misfortune, deprivation, hardship and suffering, and to rush to their aid of those that are less privileged. Yet, the satisfaction and sense of gratitude on the faces of those that we have helped keep us going.
Do support us so that we can build courage and motivation and prevent precious lives from collapsing.