Surviving Insecurity: Mental Health Through a Riot, a Pandemic and an Apathetic State

Meera Vishwanathan and Varna Balakrishnan | The Wire | 30 June 2020

Within a single week of late February 2020, the lives of thousands of people in Northeast Delhi changed irrevocably. In the largely working-class Muslim neighbourhoods, the three days of communal violence from February 24 to the 27 saw houses and shops being burnt down, severed bodies being abandoned in drains, thousands displaced and an entire community flee into deeper corners of the urban jungle. When the violence ended, thousands were left without houses, jobs, savings and even family members. “What did I do to deserve this?” cried Shabnam*, with a toddler in her hand. She had to flee her home in Shiv Vihar, an epicentre of the violence. They had hardly gathered the pieces, when their insecurity and anxiety was heightened by the COVID-19-induced nationwide lockdown, declared on March 24, exactly a month after the violence. Since then, food insecurity has increased and spread further, health facilities have become even more inaccessible and livelihoods have remained disrupted. However, to the Muslims of the riot-stricken Northeast Delhi, the pandemic brought along an even more difficult time. Read More

Following authoritarian regimes around the world, India is using Covid-19 pandemic to crush dissent

Harsh Mander & Amitanshu Verma | Scroll | 15 May 2020

Amidst the dark shadow of India’s lockdown, the Delhi police – controlled by the Central government – has been busy with tasks entirely unrelated to controlling the Covid-19 pandemic. Its schedule is packed with searching homes and offices; confiscating phones and documents; and questioning, detaining, and arresting large numbers of persons. It is instructive that these arrests are being made when the Supreme Court has directed governments to decongest jails to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The charges levelled against the arrested persons relate to their alleged role in organising protests against the discriminatory amendments to India’s citizenship law, the proposed National Register of Citizens and National Population Register. They are further accused of instigating and participating in the violent communal carnage that engulfed working-class settlements in Northeast Delhi in February, the gravest Hindu-Muslim conflagration in the capital since Partition riots of 1947. Read More

The story of Jamila Begum from Barpeta, who is terrified she will be excluded from the NRC today

Varna Balakrishnan | Scroll | 31 Aug 2019

I know this is not the best time – the monsoon is here; the river is furious and your village is flooded – but we also do not have much time left. The final National Register of Citizens list comes out today, Saturday. We met at your tin-walled house, built so for flood resilience. Your four children were there – a boy and three girls. Two of your daughters are married, the third engaged.The son is still in school, which is now shut because of the floods. The day we met, you told me that you have not been able to work in your small field ever since you have had to go around figuring out why your name did not appear in the NRC list. The village chief, the gaubura, says it is because your panchayat certificate was not accepted as proof you are your father’s daughter, that Jamila Begum is the daughter of Abdullah Islam, whose name was present in the 1951 NRC list. The notice says, “Legacy person not parent or grandparent.” Read More