Delhi riots: Gokulpuri drain struggles to shrug off 'drain of death' tag

Delhi: 23 Feb, 2022 (Times of India)


NEW DELHI: Gokulpuri drain got its reputation as the ‘drain of death’ during the northeast Delhi riots two years ago. Several unrecognisable corpses and gutted vehicles were discovered in the drain that passes through Bhagirathi Vihar, Chand Bagh and Khajuri Khas areas. Today, the drain looks the same as it did before the riots, filled with muck and slimy water, garbage littering its sides. But it now has an unpleasantness beyond its physical appearance.

At least nine bodies were retrieved from the drains that merged with the main Gokulpuri drain during the riots. Several scorched vehicles had also been pushed into the drain. Delhi Police removed these with the help of North Delhi Municipal Corporation and Delhi government’s irrigation and flood department.

“Two bodies were fished out from the drain just a few metres from our house,” said Ashiq, a resident of Bhagirathi Vihar. He still fears a gathering of people in the area. “We stay inside when we see groups out there. You don’t know what their intentions are,” said Ashiq.

The trauma is understandable. “Our house was burnt down by the mob and we filed an FIR with the cops. But no one gave us any financial assistance,” added Ashiq at the electronics shop located along the Gokulpuri drain that he now runs.

Sameer, whose father ran a grocery store before the riots but has a scrap business since then, suffered similarly. “They broke into our shop and looted everything. Then they burnt it to ashes,” said Sameer, a resident of Bhagirathi Vihar. “The following day, the hooligans returned. They carted away our belongings and damaged the staircase of the house. Yet the government officials declared we were ineligible for compensation.”

Sameer said that the small scrap shop is the family’s only source of livelihood. “My father had another shop on rent in Jaffrabad. That was razed by the rioters and we no longer go there,” he added. “We have lost faith in the government and police. They did not help us when we needed them most. We have struggled to survive in these past two years.”