Many under financial constraint as Delhi riot victims still wait for compensation

39-year-old Rubina Bano was beaten by a mob in February 2020. | Picture by arrangement

About 2569 families in North East Delhi have filed claims for compensation. Of the 2,569 claims, 1,425 have been examined, while work on the remaining 1,234 is still to begin.

Nikita Jain | 

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NEW DELHI — 39-year-old Rubina Bano has been doing regular work ever since she was brutally beaten up by a Hindu mob in the Chandbagh area when riots hit Northeast Delhi between February 23-25, 2020.

Bano was among the protesters agitating against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

On February 25, 2020, she was at the protest and was brutally beaten up by a mob, which allegedly included police men as well. “I was three months pregnant at the time and when I begged the men to stop, they kicked my stomach saying, let’s kill it inside only,” she recalled and shuddered.

Rubina was hit with a brick after which she lost consciousness, as per the police complaint filed by her. With multiple injuries all over her body, she could not leave the bed for more than a month.

Rubina has three children, her newborn almost a year old. She is yet to receive compensation from the Delhi government. “They are making me run here and there saying I don’t have MLC. But when I got an MLC from Hamdard Hospital where I was admitted, they gave me reasons that I could not understand. However, I have provided them with all the required documents and yet I have not received any compensation. Members of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) have visited me thrice but nothing has happened,” she told

Despite repeated calls, officials from the district court as well as SDM have refused to address her grievance. “I was told a few months ago that I will receive compensation soon, however, they have stopped receiving my calls,” she added.

According to reports, about 2569 families in North East Delhi have filed claims for compensation. Of the 2,569 claims, 1,425 have been examined, while work on the remaining 1,234 is still to begin. Once the commission makes its recommendations, the Delhi High Court will examine them before the actual fund disbursement begins.

This number, however, is still less than the ground reality. 

Yash, who is a social worker and has been working with lawyers involved in the compensation cases, told that the data by the government is not reliable. “It does not match up with the experience we have on the ground. The government also has a very loose definition of what it means to fulfill the claim. So, if your house has been looted or if you have lost a few lakhs worth of possession, the government will give Rs. 25,000 and count it as compensation,” he said.

Nissar Ahmad had to leave his house at Nallah Road in Bhagirathi Vihar and escape to save himself and his family. One of his Hindu neighbours gave them shelter for a night.

Ahmad is also a key witness in many cases, including a murder that occurred in the area. While he left his home and life on February 24, his property was burnt. The heartbroken man had to pick up his life from scratch and had filed for a claim but only got Rs. 1, 25, 000. “I am maybe lucky that this amount of money was given. This was nothing to start my life but I had no option,” he said.

Ahmad is now living in a small rented room, along with his family in Mustafabad. “I am trying to sell my house because I still cannot go back there. A few times I have tried, the neighbors who used to be friends, now threaten me. They have told me they would kill me if I come here and continue with the cases,” Ahmad said.

While the claim is not even five percent of what he was expecting, Ahmad has given up hope. Yash said that like Ahmad, many victims have given up hope for compensation due to “the tedious process while others are still fighting”.

An official with SDM, who has been taking care of compensation claims, on the condition of anonymity, said that the process is still going on even though it is slow. “Delhi government has on the other hand kept a very tight ship and is not even revealing the real number of compensation claims,” he said.

As of now, many are still having difficulty rebuilding their lives and are trying hard to revive themselves. “I do not know when this nightmare will end. When will I be able to live a life where I do not have financial constraints,” Rubina said.

Nikita Jain is an independent journalist. She tweets at @nikita_jain15