A neighbour who risked his life to rescue six members of a family. A senior citizen who saved 80 lives. And so many more in a city torn apart by gut-wrenching violence.
In the last week of February, India witnessed one of the most devastating communal clashes in its capital city. A series of inhuman acts took over 50 lives, left several people gravely injured and destroyed properties in East Delhi.
While the communal riots spread, there were people who chose to discard religious tags, pick up the flag of humanity and helped people in distress in face of mindless hatred.
Here we write 5 heartwarming tales that emerged in Delhi where people came forward undaunted in a show of solidarity and support for their brethren:
1) Love Thy Neighbour
When a few residents of Gurudwara Mohalla in Gali 6 decided to build a metal gate to prevent rioters from damaging the properties and hurting people, the news travelled fast and a total of Rs 4,000 was collected.
Once the gate was constructed, the residents of the Mohalla stood guard 24/7 on a rotational basis and allowed outsiders to enter only after a thorough check-up.
Located between Jaffrabad, a Muslim-dominated area and Hindu-dominated Maujpur, the Mohalla happens to be a very sensitive area as people from all religions have been living in harmony for ages.
“Our neighbours are like family, we have an understanding that if I am in trouble, they will protect me, and if they are in trouble, I will protect them,” Mohd Imran, a resident told Indian Express.
Meanwhile, a few blocks away in Gali 4, a similar sense of camaraderie was witnessed. Apart from taking turns to be vigilant, people also formed a WhatsApp group to dispel rumours or fake news.
“On Tuesday night, there was a rumour that the gurdwara had been set on fire and around 200 Sikh men wanted to rush here. I had to tell them that I am standing in front of it and there was no fire,” says Palvinder Singh Khalsa, a resident.
Such heartening scenes from both the lanes are very hard to believe considering that only a 100 metres away properties were destroyed and stones were pelted all night in Maujpur Main road.
People in Gurudwara Mohalla gracefully emulated unity in diversity, a lesson that needs to be remembered in such turbulent times.
2) Every Life Mattered for This Hero With Severe Burns
Even before Sumit Baghel, a resident of Shiv-Vihar could try and process that a frenzied mob had set fire to his neighbour’s house, his brother, Premkant had already begun rescue operations.
All Premkant knew was that his friend’s family was in trouble. Whether he belonged to another religion did not even enter his mind when he put his life in danger and rescued six members of the family. While the 29-year-old was escorting the last member, an elderly woman out, he suffered severe burns on his body including his face.
दंगा पीड़ित क्षेत्र शिव विहार में रहने वाले प्रेमकांत जी अपने एक मुसलमान पड़ोसी को दंगे से बचाते हुए 70% जल गए। उनसे GTB असप्ताल में मिली, प्रेमकांत जी जैसे लोग दिल्ली के असली हीरो हैं। उनसे मिलकर बहुत हौसला मिला। मेरी प्रार्थना है कि वो जल्द ठीक हों और हमारे साथ मिलकर काम करें। pic.twitter.com/qPLrrJhYpx
— Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) February 27, 2020
What made the situation even worse was that Premkant couldn’t go to the hospital due to the unavailability of an ambulance. It was only in the morning, after several hours, that he was taken to the GTB Hospital for treatment.
At a time when concepts like compassion and empathy are dying slowly, it is extremely rare to see people like Premkant who rise beyond the politics at play, and prefer to save a life.
3) Children Show A Promising Future
In riot-infested zones of Delhi, as despair and hysteria ran wide, school children were setting examples of brotherhood for everyone.
As per a report by The Indian Express, a group of four close friends – Shoaib, Vinay, Sameer and Akash were in touch with each other during the horrific nights of violence. Everyone updated each other about their respective conditions through phone calls.
During the clashes, three of them went to Vinay’s house in Gurudwara Mohalla to catch up.
“As we were stuck in our homes during the violence, we called each other up to ask if everyone was fine. We have many students of both religions in our class and we’re all friends,” said Shoaib.
Likewise, 12-year-old Vipan Kumar rang up his classmate Ayan in the Noor Illahi area of Shahdara to inquire about his well being.
How amazing it is to know that a divisive atmosphere could not create faults in along religious lines in their friendship.
4) Sikh Hero Leaves No Stone Unturned to Save 80 Lives
On 24 February, Mohinder Singh sensed the tension in the morning and by evening he was on his scooter helping people in the Hindu-majority area of Gokulpuri.
The 54-year-old and his son were safely transporting men, women and children, irrespective of their religion, to a safer zone in the Kardampuri area, a kilometre away.
Singh protected close to 80 people from the miscreants and on some occasions, he even put turbans on the victims to save lives. .
In the very first hour, the father-son duo made 20 trips on their two-wheelers.
“I just saw people. I saw little children. I felt like they were my children and that nothing should happen to them. We did this because we all should act humanely and help those in need. What more can I say?” he told Huffington Post.
After he was done ensuring that residents of Gokapuri were in a safe spot, Singh made several attempts to stop the mob from destroying and burning properties of the locals. According to the report, Singh did not wait for any help to douse the fire in a local shop after he realised a nearby gas cylinder would blow up their entire street.
5) Human Chain
With almost 100k views and 3,000 shares, a video shared by journalist Bodhisattva Sen Roy on Twitter was probably the most heartwarming gesture that emerged on 25 February.
As the protests turned violent and horror unfolded in several parts of East Delhi, a group of good samaritans formed a human chain to safeguard school children.
See the video here:
This is happening now at Yamuna Vihar in East Delhi.
Locals form a human chain to escort schoolchildren to safety.
Police is nowhere to be seen. Remember this is Delhi, barely 20 kms north of Hyderabad house, the site of Modi-Trump joint statement an hour or so back pic.twitter.com/HHodTvJpK8
— Bodhisattva #DalitLivesMatter 🇮🇳🏳️🌈 (@insenroy) February 25, 2020
We teach by practising. When these children will look back at this tragic event, they will remember those who set the fire, and the ones who doused it, they will remember the hands that threw the stones and the ones raised to protect them and they will remember the hatred-laced eyes and those filled with compassion and the light of humanity too.
Never forget that we can teach our children by standing by for what is right.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)