And Then There Were None: The Story Of Delhi Riots

The title of this article is always relatable whenever there is an event of violence and escape. Agatha Christie had also written a novel by the same name. India is a country, rather, an umbrella, with people from multiple castes, religions, ethnicity and races, and this fact has been very well established for thousands of years.

In my view, being the Capital, New Delhi has always been privileged and unfortunate at the same time to witness prosperity and violence. People normally fear what they don’t understand: religion and politics. These two areas have the power to either unite or divide, whatever people like to have. Every time there is violence, there is a mob that is blamed for riots, and then there are none!

In my opinion, the BJP-led government has had a one point agenda—Divide and rule—since its inception. Despite knowing about a country-wide dissent against CAA/NRC/NPR, the government is enforcing and destabilising peace and harmony of the civil society. For the last three days, areas in North-East Delhi, namely Maujpur, Jaffrabad, Chand Bagh and Karawal Nagar have been under severe threat and violence.

फोटो साभार- सोशल मीडिया
Main streets in these neighborhoods are in shambles, with stench of burnt vehicles and plumes of rising smoke.

Considering the situation, a curfew has been imposed in these areas, along with shoot-at-sight orders. With all this nuisance, almost 20 people have lost their lives, including a policeman, Ratanlal. Delhi Police spokesman MS Randhawa told reporters on 25th February that the situation is under control and a “sufficient number of policemen” had been deployed. Paramilitary forces have been deployed as well.

But the police have been accused of being under-prepared and outnumbered. Had it been an hour or two, there could have been the argument of the police being unprepared. If it had come out of the blue while the US President was visiting New Delhi, one might have argued that the Home Ministry was blindsided. If it were taking place in a hard-to-reach part of the country, one could have said that the terrain has made things difficult.

Main streets in these neighborhoods are in shambles, with stench of burnt vehicles and plumes of rising smoke, said BBC Hindi’s Faisal Mohammed. He said that he saw a partially-burnt mosque, with pages from the Koran lying strewn on the ground. Another mosque was allegedly vandalised on the afternoon of 25th February. A widely shared footage on the internet shows men trying to rip the crescent from the top of a mosque minaret.

Eyewitnesses have said several members of the mob were carrying guns and there are reports of shots being fired from rooftops. Hospital officials have also confirmed that many of the injured have gun shot wounds. Eyewitnesses in Jaffrabad have allegedly said that several young men armed with iron rods and stones were chanting “Jai Shri Ram”.

Shops, cars and e-rickshaws belonging to the minority community were set ablaze in Maujpur and Ghonda while the police looked over, some residents said. The crowd assaulted youths who were taking photos of the arson. A petrol pump was set ablaze, a tyre market was burnt, and houses and shops were destroyed.

kapil mishra
“I appeal to everyone to stop violence as it will not lead to any solution,” Kapil Mishra on the violence in North-East Delhi told ANI on 24th February. Image Source: ANI

One of the BJP leaders, Kapil Mishra, was seen provoking the mob in front of DCP, Delhi and hinted at the upcoming stress and outrage, according to news reports. Still, no action has been taken against him! As if defaming Shaheen Bagh was not enough! Kapil Mishra is allegedly known for his illogical, irrational and anti-Muslim statements. Meanwhile, readers should know that Wajahat Habibullah, Ex. CIC and interlocutor appointed by Hon. Supreme Court of India, has filed an affidavit in the court blaming Delhi Police for road blockade, not the peaceful protesters.

Even international media has started reporting these crimes. “This kind of communal violence has left a lasting mark on Mr. (Narendra) Modi’s legacy. In 2002, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat State, sectarian riots left more than 1,000 people dead—almost 800 of them Muslims who were killed by Hindu mobs,” The New York Times reminded its readers.

“He and his state government were accused of quietly ordering the police to stand by as the violence raged,” the newspaper said, adding that Modi had denied the charges and a panel for the Supreme Court had found no evidence to charge him.

In my opinion, never has a protest in support of any act or law been observed. However, people have spoken against them. It seems to be a prima facie state-sponsored riot to target Muslims, or whoever is against the state. Police have their intelligence network, forces, powers and they are letting the mob create violence. For the last two months, people have been protesting in Shaheen Bagh and in many cities of India, yet there has been no violence. As soon as the supporters got on the roads, there’s violence. How?

Reports indicate the stoppage of an ambulance, which could have saved someone’s life. Is this a way to protest; regardless of support or against a law? Mahatma Gandhi has taught us non-cooperation and non-violence in any circumstance. Are we following it? Now is the time (or may be it is too late) to introspect. Life is more precious than the Hindu-Muslim debate. After all we are all Humans.

Log toot jate hain ek ghar banane mein,
Tum taras nahi khate bastiyan jalane mein. 

(People break while building a house for themselves,
And you do not even flinch while setting a neighbourhood on fire.)

-Basheer Badr

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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