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Bruises, Fear & An Uncertain Future: Pregnant Women, New Mothers Recall Horror of Delhi Riots

File photo of Shabana from Karwal Nagar who delivered a baby on Wednesday (Eram Agha/News18)

File photo of Shabana from Karwal Nagar who delivered a baby on Wednesday (Eram Agha/News18)

Rubina Bano is the talk of her locality: her four-month pregnancy in times of risk and no medical care is a cause of concern for the elderly, even though the fear of being attacked crosses her mind.

New Delhi: Rubina Bano has a baby bump and reddish-blue bruises on her thigh and legs. She needs to see the doctor for her healthy unborn - the healing balm that can alleviate her pain and restore faith. But the tension has created a divide between people from all walks of life as calls to clinics have gone unanswered and ambulances are unavailable.

Few doctors, who honour their duty to save lives, do receive calls but the mahaul is so bad that there is mutual fear and mistrust. “No one is ready to risk life,” she said.

Bano was a regular at the anti-CAA protests in her locality which the police forcefully dispersed via lathi-charge on Monday. She was one among the many victims of force and lathis. Blows were made on her head, legs and hands leaving her unconscious. The human chain the women had formed was broken by force and merciless assault.

While talking to media she lifted her salwar and showed the bruises on her thigh and then opened the sleeves to show us the marks on her arms. Bano has been surviving on porridge and meagre meals as there is not much of food in-store; the convenience of gas delivery is also not assured. “Lesser is better in these times,” she said.

Rubina Bano with her family at their home (Eram Agha/News18)

“The clinics were used for tear gas shelling”

Bano is the talk of her locality Chandbagh – her four-month pregnancy in times of risk and no medical care is a cause of concern for the elderly. Mohan Nursing Home was one clinic where maximum Muslims went for treatment. But in the latest riots, it was targetted with tear gas shells.

“The mob went on the roof and threw tear gas shells. Stones were pelted from the rooftop. The place we went for treatment fell in the lap of attackers,” said Imam Mohammad Junaid while showing the video of men on the rooftop hurling stones and abuses.

The image of the crowd shouting from the top has seeped the memory and mind of locals. “I was beaten despite the pregnancy. I pointed to them about my baby bump and even then I was thrashed. I have not had any treatment. I just went to a private clinic Al Madina for first aid but no serious treatment has come my way. I have not had the ultrasound and I have no idea if the baby in my womb is safe,” said Bano.

Heading to Al Hind

The clinics are shut and some are so scared that they are sending people back as they are unsure of security in the locality. “The fear of being attacked is dominant in our locality – woh darr rahein hain humse, hum darr rahein hain unse... waqt ki baat hai.”

The locals have been going to the nearby clinics for decades but now many are lining at Al Hind in Mustafabad for treatment.

Shabana from Karwal Nagar went there after the clinics in her locality were shut. Some persons could not take her earlier as there was a lack of security. She was scared of going to the General clinic as she feared that someone could attack her there. The dispensary she trusted was shut. Shabana was sent back due to the tense atmosphere.

“I have been going to the nearby clinics for the tests. But after the assault the situation became tense and I came to Mustafabad clinic.”

Her neighbor Sandeep helped her escape an attacking mob. She delivered a baby on Wednesday at Al Hind. The hospital is getting a stream of patients – among them, 54 are women of which 10 are pregnant. These women came from far-flung areas in the curfewed times. There have been four deliveries in these times of discord.

“I am restless, and in pain, wondering what future lies ahead of my newly born,” said Shabana.