Rahima lived in Jahangirpuri’s C block, which was the center of the April 16 violence. On April 20, her shop was demolished as part of the demolition drive. She used to make Rs 300-500 per day selling water, chips, and biscuits. As a result of violence, shops in the area were forced to close for a few days. So, Rahima depleted all of her savings to purchase groceries for her family, not knowing that the following day, she was going to lose her sole source of income, the only way she could afford to feed her children two square meals a day.
Even though she had a license which she showed us, the government still tore down her store. Aside from that, the electrical wiring of her house was also damaged.
On April 20, when the fleet of bulldozers arrived, desperate Rahima sought reassurance from the police and asked them repeatedly if her shop will be demolished? They reassured her again and again that bulldozers are only here to clear the waste in the area. But just hours later, shards of broken glass, an overturned fridge with its contents spilling out, and a mound of rubble was all that remained of Rahima’s shop.
She has three children. Her 11-year-old son tearfully picking up stray soft-drink bottles that had been spared by the bulldozers can be seen in the pictures that went viral on the internet post demolition.
“I urged them to at least let the fridge be, so we can rebuild our shop, but they left nothing,” said Rahima.
The police latched her inside the house from outside. Her ‘reri’ [shop] was in front, and the house just a few feet behind. She kept pleading with them that she had all the documents, and permission to run this shop, but they did not listen to a word and just started breaking everything down.
Somebody has cursed us,” Rahima sobbed when we first met her. “In our slum, when a Hindu living alone died, the whole locality cremated him. We are a peaceful and loving locality. I don’t know why they are doing this to us,” said Rahima.
Rahima dropped out of school after completing the sixth grade with the help of an NGO. Though, she enjoyed going to school but was forced to leave because her parents could not afford it. Since then, she has been out doing many odd jobs to support the family. Her husband too never went to a school. Their children, however, are now attending school with the help of Miles2Smile.
We provided Rahima Rs 25,000 to get a new fridge so that her business could resume.