India: Economic crises loom large after Delhi riots

NEW DELHI (AA): A week after communal riots ravaged parts of the Indian capital Delhi, trade bodies have estimated a loss of $34.65 billion. Initial reports suggest that rioters burnt 92 houses, 57 shops, 500 vehicles, six warehouses, two schools, four factories, and four religious places. 

Many people returning now to their localities after escaping from the fury of rioters are finding shops and homes they left behind razed to the ground. Mohammad Moinuddin’s two-story shop at the Maujpur area of northeast Delhi was set ablaze on Feb. 24.

When he tried to intervene, rioters put a gun at him. Two days later, when he returned to the locality, he found his three-decades-old shop of recycled clothes still in embers.

“Sitting at home, I made several calls to the fire service to send fire engines to douse the flames. But they did not come. I visited the site two days later, only realizing that my only source of income is no more,” 50-year-old Moinuddin told Anadolu Agency.

He is not the only one who has been hit below the belt. The entire scrap market of the Gokulpuri area has been reduced to ashes.

While the local Delhi government, on Saturday, announced to handover $6,869 each to owners of uninsured commercial units, many people say, it does not compensate their losses.

“What will I do with this amount? My shop and the stocks it had cost 20 times more. This amount will hardly help. I wish they find ways to help us get back our businesses,” added Moinuddin. 

Economic boycott 

While many are still coming to terms with the business losses, a local said that the bigger shock is the economic boycott of Muslims in the area.

“Most of us are being denied jobs and raw material for our businesses. I went to my wholesaler, and he refused to give me anything, citing that he does not want to get into trouble by doing business with a Muslim,” said Zohran (name changed).

Muslims in the area are being denied groceries by the local Hindu shop owners, as Muslim shops have been either shut or burnt.

The fear in other parts of Delhi has led many youngsters to hide their identity, by leaving their hijabs and skull caps at home.

For 22-year-old college student Fareeha Khan (name changed), this is no time to carry her religious identity with her. “These are highly unsafe times. Even though it feels weird to travel without the hijab, I have not been wearing it as I use the metro every day,” she said.

The death toll in the northeast Delhi riots touched 47 on Monday after four more bodies were fished out from drains and brought to a hospital.

Delhi Police have registered 254 FIRs and arrested or detained 903 persons in connection with the violence so far. Forty-one of the cases were registered under the Arms Act.