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Painful Stories Of Torture And Death In The Aftermath Of Delhi Violence

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Trigger Warning: Mention of violence

This article was published by ED Times on YKA, a year ago, in the aftermath of the Delhi riots that broke out in February, 2020.

By Ishita Bajpai

Riots keep on happening. They have been happening in the past too. It is a part of life, that keeps on happening.

It’s easy for politicians like Ranjit Singh Chautala to pass such insensitive comments. But, for the common people who have to live through this horror, the violence in Delhi would be hard to forget.

It seems to me that every time I look for updates on the violence in Delhi, the body count has gone up. So far, more than 49 people have died because of these bloodthirsty instances.

This incident has uprooted and destroyed the lives of many people, be it Hindus or Muslims.

Following are some heartbreaking stories that show how people, belonging to both religions, have been affected by the violence and brutality.

Watching Your Brother Die In Front Of You

Shiv Vihar’s resident Saleem Qassar had to identify his 58-year-old brother Anwar Qassar by his foot as the rest of his body was burnt to death.

Saleem Qassar grieving for his brother

Anwar was shot twice and then pushed into a raging fire, and when he tried to get up he was gunned down again. Salem watched his brother die in front of his eyes but was helpless to do anything. Only Anwar’s foot remained which was picked up and ended up at a hospital’s mortuary. The family identified the deceased by the peculiar shape of his nails and his characteristic cracked heels.

Anwar’s family also had to take refuge at their Hindu neighbour’s house. Saleem said that the neighbours put tilaks on their foreheads and gave them saffron safas (turbans) to wear on their heads to pass off as Hindus. Saleem added, “Had they not sheltered us for 12 hours, none of us would have been alive”.

Law Student Killed By A Lawless Mob

Rahul Solanki

On 24th February 26-year-old LLB student Rahul Solanki went out to buy some milk but never returned home. He was studying at a private college in Ghaziabad. Rahul was shot in the right shoulder near his neck and succumbed to his wounds while being treated at the GTB hospital.

Rahul Solanki’s distraught father.

Rahul’s friend who was with him during this ordeal said, “We saw a mob approaching us and began to run. We were bare feet and Rahul went to put on his slippers. While he was putting them on, some unidentified persons shot him dead.”

Solanki’s distraught father said that the rioters are winning and that the administration has done nothing to calm the situation. There was also a delay in handing over the body by the hospital which only made the pain worse.

Forced To Sing National Anthem While Being Beaten To Death


23-year-old Faizan was illegally detained by Delhi Police for 36 hours and made to sing the National Anthem in between beatings.

Faizan was taken into custody on February 24, and died on February 26, it is said. The police claimed that they never took Faizan into custody however eyewitnesses, doctors, legal volunteers, and family members have refuted this claim. They strongly believe that the torture at the hands of the police led to Faizan’s death.

Kismatun, Faizan’s mother said, “His body had turned blue all over when they released him. He had stitches on his ear and on his head. The policemen had hit him, putting a baton inside his throat. He was in so much pain that he could not even gulp liquids such as water or milk when we got back home”.


7-Month Pregnant Woman Had To Identify Her Husband’s Body

27-year-old Rickshaw puller Prem Singh disappeared on February 25 when he went out to buy some milk for his 3 children. He was the sole breadwinner of the family. When his 7-month pregnant wife Sunita and his sister Sarita first went to the police station they were shooed away.

It was only after some media attention that the family was able to register an FIR. Sarita couldn’t find him amongst the people who were detained at the police station or at the hospital wards for the injured. After an endless search, Prem’s body was found in GTB Hospital’s mortuary.

Sunita said, “I don’t know how I will look after the three children and one who is yet to be born.

These painful real-life accounts of the Delhi violence show that violence never helps in solving any problem, it only makes the matters worse. Stories from everywhere are equally gut-wrenching and harrowing.

The situation may seemingly be getting back to normal but the lives of the families who have lost their loved ones won’t ever be the same again.

A version of this post was first published here.

Featured image credit: Javed Sultan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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