This Article is From Mar 01, 2020

Delhi Woman, 60, Recalls Escaping Arson, Children Jumped From First Floor

Shiv Vihar is the worst-affected locality in the large-scale violence that erupted this week in northeast Delhi between people demonstrating for and against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and has left more than 40 people dead and over 100 still in hospital with injuries.

Bilkis Bano, 60, ran to save her life when her house in northeast Delhi was set on fire.

New Delhi:

Bilkis Bano, 60, cannot stop crying as she recalls Monday's mob attack when hundreds stormed northeast Delhi's Shiv Vihar locality, one of the worst hit by the violence in the national capital over contentious citizenship law, and set her house ablaze.

She was inside her house, where she has been living for nearly 35 years, when attackers came. A shop - owned by her family- that was adjacent to the house was also gutted.

"It was all going up in flames. I ran out to save my life... but fell. I got caught in the mob. The attackers were just running here and there, setting houses, shops on fire. I was on my knees, on the ground and tried to crawl my way out. My elder son Mohammad Yusuf (42) found me and dragged me out of the crowd, ran with me to a safer place," she recounts.

Her two-storey house and the shop have been reduced to ashes. Bano, along with her two sons and their wives, took shelter at nearby shrine after attack.

Shiv Vihar is the worst-affected locality in the large-scale violence that erupted this week in northeast Delhi between people demonstrating for and against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and has left more than 40 people dead and over 100 still in hospital with injuries. Mobs came and torched anything and everything they found, witnesses say.

Hundreds of families were forced to flee the locality.

On Saturday, when Bilkis Bano spoke to NDTV, she was still in the same clothes that she was wearing on Monday. Her son Yusuf said, "This shirt I am wearing... I have just borrowed it from a neighbour a few minutes ago."

In nearby Yamuna Vihar area, 33-year-old Preeti Garg shivers with horror as she remembers how the rioters set her home on fire. Her two sons - a -five-year-old and a 9-year-old - jumped from the first floor to save their lives.

"Clashes went on here for several hours on Monday. It started with incidents of stone throwing, then escalated to arson. They set a petrol pump on fire, just 200 metres away from our house. They torched the front section of the house first, ground floor - empty at that time - started going up in flames. My sons and me were on first floor, along with my husband and my mother-in-law. We decided to save the kids first," she shares.

"We held their hands from the balcony and then lowered them and made them jump. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. After sending the kids away to safety, rest of us went to our roof, climbed to our neighbour's terrace," says Preeti.

The ground floor of Preeti's house is charred. Her mother-in-law, Santosh, says, "Every time, I go to the balcony, I am reminded of my grandchildren jumping from the first floor to escape fire."

The Delhi Police has filed over 150 First Information Reports or FIRs for the violence over Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA. Restrictions have been eased in some parts after four days of clashes that injured over 250.