New Delhi: "The tears have dried up. I can’t believe I have not been able to bury my father with dignity. No one can understand my pain. No one cares," says Gulshan. Her father Anwer Kassar was one of the 53 people who died in the Delhi riots. It's been over two months since he was allegedly burnt alive. And all that was found of him was a burnt leg.
Now, the coronavirus lockdown has rubbed salt into the wound. The charred remains have still not been released to Gulshan and her family. "The police tells me why are you troubling us, there is a lockdown. They said it’s only a bone that’s left. Why can’t they understand it’s not just a bone, that’s all I have of my father. Doesn’t he deserve dignity in death?," says Gulshan.
Back in March, we reported that a DNA test had to be conducted to prove that the burnt remains belong to Gulshan's father.
As we revisit the tragic story, we find that Gulshan continues to wait, two months on. She had submitted her samples on February 29, 2020. All through March, she kept running from pillar to post to get the DNA test result.
"I used to go to GTB hospital almost every day till March 21. Everyday I would wait for the results. No one would hear my cries," says Gulshan. On the 21st of March, she and her husband Naseeruddin returned to their home in Pilakwa, Hapur district in Uttar Pradesh because of the coronavirus outbreak. But their excruciating wait continued.
On April 7, a writ petition was filed in the Delhi High Court urging that the DNA test should be expedited. The next day, the court directed DNA test must be completed and the result communicated to Gulshan, not later than April 18. Following the court orders, Gulshan finally received the DNA results on April 16 and it was a match.
"I always knew that that was my father. The DNA test now made it official. It’s only a charred bone which remains of him but I want it," says Gulshan.
"In two other Delhi riot cases like Gulshan's, the charred bodied have been released to the family even during the lockdown. In Gulshan’s case, it’s been nearly two weeks since the DNA test but no sign of a release," says Ritesh Dubey, her lawyer.
Anwer Kasser lived in Shiv Vihar, one of the areas that was worst-hit during the communal violence that ravaged large parts of northeast Delhi. Gulshan says Anwer was shot twice by the rioters, then his home was set ablaze and he was thrown into the fire. Locals told her their home was looted before being burnt down. Rescuers could only salvage a burnt leg from the inferno.
The remains are not in a mortuary but in police custody, Gulshan said. Due to the lockdown, she is unable to come to Delhi to expedite the process. "I’ve already waited over two months since my father was killed in the riots. It was only after the court intervened that we got the DNA result. Can’t the police and government now help us and finally release my father? Can’t they get him to me in Pilakwa or let me come to Delhi to bury him? It’s only a ‘bone’ they say. What do they know!,” Gulshan breaks down.