Volunteers Distributing Free Food in Nizamuddin Beaten up by Cops For Not Having Passes, Ex-Delhi Mayor Farhad Suri Meets DM
Mumtaz Alam | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, APRIL 14— Some local volunteers who have been distributing free food among hundreds of poor residents of Nizamuddin area for past three weeks were allegedly beaten up by cops as they had not got passes to move out in the lockdown. Senior Congress leader and former Mayor of Delhi Farhad Suri met the District Magistrate on Tuesday and sought passes for the volunteers. Since after the tragedy of the Nizamuddin Markaz, the headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, earlier this month, the entire area has been sealed and cordoned off.
“A team of volunteers cook food and prepare 700-800 packets and distribute among the local poor people. Some food items are cooked at Nizamuddin Dargah Sharif and some at the historic Langar Khana. The owner of the Langar Khan has died long ago but his grandson Shaikh Jilani has taken control of the Langar Khana. He is a good social worker. He along with some youths of the locality are doing this work. Rich people of the area are supporting them,” a local resident told India Tomorrow.
He alleged that “authorities have given passes to those people (related to Agha Khan Trust) who are not doing any work but the team of genuine volunteers of Jilani has not got passes and some of them were beaten by cops.”
Talking to India Tomorrow, social activist Shaikh Jilani gave details about the incident.
“For the past two days, cops have been beating our volunteers. They are beating without any talk or questioning even though they see food packets in hands. Day before yesterday, our two volunteers were beaten up. One got hit in hand and another on foot. Yesterday also, one was beaten, he was hit on waist and hand,” said Jilani Tuesday noon.
His team of volunteers, with the support of rich people of the area, has been preparing food and distributing among around 800 poor people in the locality.
“Two days after the lockdown was announced (on March 24), we felt that many local residents would face problem in getting food in coming days. Some locals collected funds and we started cooking food for free distribution among the needy locals. We have an old Langar Khana (owned by his late grandfather). We started cooking and packing food there twice a day and started dropping at the doors of the needy persons. Some more locals later helped us seeing our good, humanitarian work. At one time, we prepare 800 packets of cooked food,” he said.
Social Activist Shaikh Jilani
Jilani said that despite the assault, his volunteers have not stopped the work. “Despite the action of the police, we have not stopped our work. Our boys are so enthusiastic that they want to do the humanitarian work even after having been beaten up.”
Food Provided by Delhi Govt. Insufficient Given the Number of Needy
“There are a huge number of needy persons. In Dildaar Nagar and Khusro Nagar areas in Nizamuddin Basti, majority of residents are daily wagers and laborers. They are genuinely needy,” said Jilani and added that the food being provided by the Delhi government is very insufficient given the number of the needy.
He said: “At the local MCD school, the Delhi government sends cooked food but that is only for 200-250 people and most of the beneficiaries are those who live in Nizam Nagar of Jhuggi cluster. That school is on the outer of Nizamuddin Basti. Before that there is police barricading and so people from this side fear going there.”
He further said that he is sending food packets to the homes of the needy to protect their self-respect.
“We do not call the needy to our Langar Khana but deliver food at their doorsteps in order to protect their self-respect and so that other people do not know. We are not doing this worker under any banner,” he said.
We Had Applied for Passes, Have Not Got Yet
Jilani said that he had applied with the local SDM for passes for the volunteers when the officer had come to Nizamuddin area along with the local SHO. “We gave them a list of our volunteers. But they have not yet granted us passes.”
The local resident quoted above also said that genuine people have not got passes from the authorities.
“Entire area of Nizamuddin Basti, some parts of Nizamuddin West – G Block, A Block and some parts of D Block are sealed. Local residents are facing problem in getting essential items because those who have got passes from authorities are not working properly while the genuine local volunteers have not got passes,” said the resident.
Jilani said that he met the DM yesterday along with Farhad Suri, former Mayor of Delhi and former Councillor of the Nizamuddin area and applied for passes afresh.
“Yesterday also we met the DM. We had gone there along with Farhad Suri, former Mayor of Delhi. The officer sought fresh list from us. He wanted to us make the list of volunteers short. We did so then and there. The officer also wanted us to provide a list of beneficiaries with number of family members. We also gave that list to them yesterday afternoon. But we have not got any response yet from there,” said Jilani.
Former Delhi Mayor Farhad Suri
Talking to India Tomorrow, Farhad Suri confirmed it. He also praised the work of the volunteers.
“A group of volunteers in Nizamuddin, totally apolitical people, has been distributing free food among the poor of the area. But now they are facing difficulty in their work. Policemen are beating them. Yesterday, I had gone to DM office and sought passes for volunteers. The officer sought list which we provided. Today they will check the list and also the list of beneficiaries and then will grant passes,” said Suri.
Asked if other local residents are facing trouble in getting daily commodities from the shops, Suri said: “Some people have got passes, they were asked to keep their shops shut down and when they get call on phone for supply of any item, they will open and deliver the required item. Passes have not been granted after proper verification. For example, if someone claimed he sells vegetables and got pass, but before granting pass, his claim should have been verified.”
Sitting Councillor of Nizamuddin area is Farhad Suri’s niece. When the area was reserved for women, Suri got his niece fielded and she won. But on the ground, he himself has been working very actively and locals appreciate his work. They are angry with sitting MLA of AAP.
“The AAP MLA has not come to the area even once. When pressure was built up, he came up but did not enter the area. He claimed that food from government is being distributed for 1500 people but this is a false claim,” said a local resident.
Farhad Suri called for unity and cooperation between the people and authorities. “This is the time to get united and cooperate with each other to face this difficult time,” he said.