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Efforts are also being made so that a team is in place to offer legal assistance to those who would require it in the violence-affected areas.
A group of people, including three lawyers, recently visited violence-affected areas in North-East Delhi, following the recent riots in the capital city.
The team comprised Advocates Dr. Saif Mahmood, MR Shamshad and Shwetasree Majumder, along with Vishal Vig.
The team visited the areas of Jafrabad, Mustafabad and Maujpur to write its report. Recounting the various accounts narrated by the people they met during the visit, the team members reported that they came away "shaken to the core."
The report details tales of systematic, planned carnage reported by the people in the three areas of North East Delhi, apart from documenting the physical ruins left behind. As per the report, the atmosphere post the riots remained tense, the streets deserted.
"We saw a couple of buildings that were burnt down, shops that had been vandalised and some that, ironically, displayed the national flag. Even on the main road, nearly all establishments were shut, and people were patrolling the neighbourhood in groups and asking questions of visitors to ascertain their antecedents. Any stranger seen to be talking to anybody was quickly surrounded by groups of people who wanted to know whether the person was from an NGO or from the media."
Ground Report of Delhi Riots
The report goes on to detail what the team was told by various persons they encountered in the three localities they visited. The team recounts in the report,
"The personal narratives we recorded here alternated between sending cold shivers down our spine and making our blood boil."
One aspect that stands out in the report concerns the disillusionment on the part of people concerning the response of the police during the riots. The report notes,
"... the role of police seemed to have a chilling effect on the residents and survivors. Everyone we met narrated stories of inexplicable police inaction..."
Ground Report of Delhi Riots
Another pertinent finding was that the rioters did not appear to be from the area. Rather,
"We were also told very firmly by most women that the rioters were not their neighbours and that they were outsiders who had been brought in for that purpose; who arrived in the dead of the night with murder on their minds."
The team also narrates what young lawyers who were helping displaced people had to say on how riot-affected persons were finding it difficult to pursue legal remedies.
These lawyers informed the team that many victims were filing criminal complaints without stating the name of the assailants. In many such cases, the victims can identify the assailants, but are afraid of further consequences. In other cases where the assailants are named, the police do not register FIRs, it is said. Many victims are finding it difficult to open up to the lawyers, the team was told.
Among other things, the team was told of, "how several Hindus in the neighbourhood had attempted to save the lives of their Muslim neighbours, but who were ultimately outnumbered."
The team also met Dr MA Anwar, now hailed as a local hero after he made a midnight phone-call to Justice S Muralidhar, then of the Delhi High Court. His efforts saved the lives of around 20 riot-hit victims, following the Delhi High Court's midnight sitting and urgent directions for the care of those injured in the riots.
In an effort to assist the affected people in these areas, the team will now also compile a database so that displaced people may be aided to find accommodation, and that legal assistance is provided to those who require it.
"To facilitate legal assistance, there appear to be few teams already working. However, we feel that a team of 10 dedicated, competent young lawyers be formed and they be put on work under the supervision of 2-3 senior lawyers. For this purpose, we will identify competent young lawyers who can dedicate sufficient time to this work and will pay them for their services."
[Read the full report]