A young Muslim couple have spent nearly a week outside a morgue at a New Delhi hospital, waiting for the identification of the woman’s father, who was shot dead and then burnt in the communal carnage.
Gulshan and her nearly blind husband Mohammad Nasaruddin have been waiting for doctors to conduct a DNA test on what they believe is the leg of her dead father, the only remaining piece of his body that they could recover.
“My father’s whole body was burnt and only one leg was recovered. So, right now the doctors are saying, how do we believe that it was your father? You can’t recognise anything through just one leg,” Gulshan said.
Gulshan’s father Anwar, 61, reared goats and was the only salary-earning member of the family. He used to not only run the household but also pay for the medical treatment of Gulshan’s husband Nasaruddin, who had lost his eyesight during an industrial accident four years ago.
Earlier on Monday (March 2) police said that at least 41 people had died in two days of Hindu-Muslim clashes in New Delhi last week, the worst communal riots in the capital in decades.
A week ago, a mob of several hundred people chanting Hindu nationalist slogans torched two mosques and dozens of Muslim houses, eyewitnesses said, while nearby houses carrying Hindu symbols were left untouched. In Shiv Vihar, a low-income area in northeast Delhi where some of the worst violence took place, charred motorcycles, and burnt houses lay testimony to the violence the area had been subjected to.
Hundreds of thousands of people – led by students and Muslim groups – have been demonstrating for more than two months, amid fears that the government will also launch a population register that could leave many Muslims stateless.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party says the citizenship law, which grants refuge to non-Muslim minorities from across south Asia, is required to protect those groups from persecution. Critics say it is discriminatory and contravenes the spirit of India’s secular constitution.
(Production: Bhushan Kumar, Sunil Kataria)