New Delhi: Twenty-five-year-old widow and mother of three, Sunita, would have been with her family in Kasganj to celebrate Holi. But after her husband was killed in the communal riots in North East Delhi, Sunita, who is in her seventh month of pregnancy, is now confined to her one-room house in Brijpuri.
"Last year we went to our village in Kasganj and celebrated Holi with our family. This year also we were preparing to leave. But now I’m not in a condition to go there alone. So I'll be spending Holi here alone," Sunita said. Sunita and her children are still in a state of shock. She says that the children, including the eldest who is 9-year-old, have still not fully understood the tragedy that they've suffered.
"My children believe that their father is lost somewhere. The elder daughter says 'Papa kho gaye' (My father is missing). The younger daughter holds the phone, thinks she's speaking to her father and says 'Papa ab to aa jao' (Father, please come back)," Sunita said.
Sunita has lost her husband in the riots but she is not mourning alone this Holi. News18 visited many riot-affected areas, including Brijpuri, Shiv Vihar and Khajuuri Khas, across North East Delhi and found the entire stretch, reeling from the recent violence and mayhem, in no mood to celebrate what is one of the most important festivals in the country.
Khajuri Khas, where in one lane alone more than 20 houses were torched and many were killed, whose bodies are still being fished out of the nallah running through this colony, had none of the fervour that marks this festival of colour and joy many days in advance.
A group of women sitting in the same lane, where houses and shops of people from both communities were burnt, said that they didn't think that the atmosphere was getting any better.
"There is no hustle and bustle, which used to mark this entire month. We all are living in fear, even during the night we can't sleep properly. Is there anyone you can spot preparing for Holi? This is the worst Holi we have ever experienced and even our kids are scared to move out of the houses. Even kids are experiencing the same fear as we are," said a woman who did not want to be named.
A shopkeeper, Ajay Goyal, who was selling gulaal said, "Compared to last year there is around 80 per cent shortfall in sale of Holi related products. People are still in fear. Not many people can be seen on the road."
At Shiv Vihar, which looked like a war zone when News18 visited the place on February 26, and where many lives were lost, shopkeepers said they were more concerned for their security than about celebrating Holi.
"We are still in fear and there is no excitement for Holi this year. Shops are getting closed around 6 in the evening before it gets dark. Earlier in the Holi season shops used to close around 10 in the night but now shopkeepers are not taking risk. You never know who will come in what garb and do what," said Gajendra Parihar a shop owner.
A resident of the area, Ashok Tomar, said, "Everyone is in a state of fear. Earlier, the Holi used to start a week before the day but now people living here are not much excited for the festival."