People forced to return to burned down homes after relief camps closed over COVID-19 fears
A relief camp set up in northeast Delhi for hundreds of families affected by last month's violence has been closed over fears of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus spreading among its occupants. The Eidgah camp in northeast Delhi's Old Mustafabad has been shut by the authorities and people have been forced to return to homes burned and looted in the attacks that claimed over 50 lives.
The plight of these hundreds of people, refugees within their own city, is compounded by a lack of rations and, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "total lockdown" entering its third day, they cannot leave their homes to buy basic supplies and must survive by begging for food.
"They burned down my whole home and stole all my savings. I had saved money for my daughters' marriage but they've stolen that and jewellery. Now there is nothing left... no home, no food and no money," Munisa, 52, a resident of Delhi's Shiv Vihar, told NDTV.
Munisa also lost a further Rs 25,000 in savings that had been hidden under her mattress; the entire amount burned down with the house, leaving only charred pieces of worthless paper.
"Everything is burned down. My home... nothing is left. If someone gives food, then we eat. Otherwise we starve," Zaibunisha, an elderly neighbour, says while breaking down and crying out of fear and desperation.
Last month violence over the controversial citizenship law scarred parts of Delhi, leaving several dead, hundreds injured and thousands displaced.
Violence over the controversial citizenship law in Delhi last month killed 54 people
Horrific stories and visuals emerged of injured children and schools and homes being burned and, in one case, an 85-year-old woman choking to death after her house was set on fire.
The Delhi government had set up relief camps to provide shelter and basic facilities, including food, clothing and water, but such camps are viewed with concern today amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Delhi has 36 COVID-19 cases so far, with five reported on Wednesday after a lull of nearly 40 hours.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has promised food to 72 lakh people most affected by the lockdown, has said his government will do its best "to make sure nobody goes hungry".
However, he was also forced to admit that this was a "difficult time". "We are not saying there will not be problems, but we will do our best to make sure everyone is looked after," he said on Wednesday.
Across the country over 700 people have been infected by the COVID-19 virus and at least 17 deaths have been reported. Worldwide over 4.7 lakh people have been infected and over 20,000 killed.