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In Delhi, hopelessness and desperation takes over in riot hit areas

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New Delhi, Mar 01: Hopelessness and desperation are gradually taking over the people who are yet to get any news of their loved ones missing in the communal clashes in northeast Delhi, with some like Alam Afroz now visiting hospital mortuaries "for closure".

A distraught Afroz (52), who has been looking for his son for days, says he is unable to answer the anxious queries of his family members about his whereabouts.

In Delhi, hopelessness and desperation takes over in riot hit areas

"Even if his body is found in a drain, I will know at least that he is gone. Every time I go back home, my daughter-in-law and granddaughter ask if there has been any news of him and I have nothing to answer," he said.

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IB staffer Ankit Sharma's body, with multiple stab wounds, was found in a drain in Chand Bagh a day after he went missing during the riots.

Madeena (48), whose son has been missing since Tuesday, was at the GTB hospital mortuary looking for his body after her efforts to trace him bore no fruit.

    NEWS AT NOON, MARCH 1st, 2020

    "I have been visiting different police stations. There is no trace of him. I don't know if he is alive or not. Even if he is found here among the dead, I will get a closure at least. Otherwise I will live in hopes forever that he will come home some day," she told PTI.

    Mohammad Qadir from Bijnor too has been making the rounds of GTB Hospital since Wednesday, looking for his 18-year-old brother Aftab.

    "He had gone to meet his friends that day. His friends told me that they were attacked by a mob. While the others managed to escape, he was beaten up badly. Nobody knows what happened to him and where he went.

    "I have approached the police several times but they ask me to visit the police stations which have witnessed some of the worst violence and arson. I tried, but it is scary," he said.

    Frantic search for the whereabouts of 22-year-old Monis also ended at the GTB Hospital morgue on Friday. Monis' mother was wailing outside the mortuary as the family was called inside. They identified his body. He was missing since February 25.

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    But for the family of 35-year-old Mohammad Feroze the search didn't end at the GTB hospital. His wife Shabana said he was returning home from work, when he was beaten up.

    "His phone was probably broken during that attack. He was saved by a Muslim family who gave him shelter. He called his nephew and me from their phone on February 24 but since then there has been no contact," she said.

    Recalling her last conversation with him, she said, "He said he had been beaten up and couldn't talk much since there was no electricity as the wires had been damaged by rioters and the phone's battery was about to die. He said, 'This is probably our last conversation. Don't know when we will talk again'."

    Shabana said they have learnt that the house where he was given shelter has been burnt down. "We don't know where he is," she said with a heavy voice.

    "Feroze might be alive. But he had said that he was badly injured. He was quite weak and was suffering from tuberculosis. We will also go to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital to look for him," said a family member.

    The communal violence in northeast Delhi sparked by protests over the amended citizenship law has claimed at least 42 lives and left over 200 people injured. But the number of people who are stilling missing is unclear.

    Frenzied mobs torched houses, shops, vehicles, a petrol pump and pelted stones at locals and police personnel. Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Babarpur, Yamuna Vihar, Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh and Shiv Vihar are among the areas severely affected by the riots.

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