Flanked by the Aravallis on one side and a barren field on the other, rubble is piled up on the spot where five houses stood not long back at the foothills of the mountain ranges in Nalhar, Nuh. Khatuni (60) and her husband Ali Mohammad (68) go around salvaging articles from under the mountain of bricks and concrete as three charpoys line the yard, with only a plastic sheet supported by two sticks protecting their valuable goods.
Their houses were among those demolished for alleged illegal construction a couple of days back, following the violence in Nuh last Monday. Khatuni says she cooks her meals with whatever meagre ingredients she could retrieve from her home that was among two houses built on a plot: While Khatuni and Ali lived with their family in one house, Ali’s brother Deen Mohammad used to live with his family in the other.
Now, only three people have stayed back. “My two sons drive trucks and they are away; their wives also left for their relatives’ houses after the demolition. Now, it is just me, Ali, and his brother,” said Khatuni. She said they chose to stay at the site despite demolition because no one was ready to take them in. “No one has the resources to feed our family and take care of us, and we cannot leave everything here for any faraway place. We sleep in the open…,” Ali said. Looking up at the towering ranges above them, he says they cannot afford to be scared of anything. “I have left everything to god now. There are many animals in these mountains and forests, but we cannot stay afraid,” he says, as Khatuni cuts in, “He does not sleep at night to keep a watch over us and our things.” Deen Mohammad’s daughter-in-law Arasthun helps them with food supplies.
A few metres away is Khurshidan (70), kneading dough. Her four-room house has been razed and she has been unable to get several things out, including food grains and her passbook. “When people come to donate money, I don’t have the papers to give them details. Everything is under this, even wheat grains,” she signals at the mound of bricks.
Khurshidan lived with her family of 15; her husband died seven years ago. Her two elder sons have left home.
“They were both grazing our goats and working at the time of violence. With the responsibility to feed a family as big as ours who will be idle at 3 pm on a Monday?…They thought it would be best to find some work in another village. We sleep in the open,” she said. “We are scared because there have been sightings of leopards and other wild animals, but we cannot go anywhere. Who will take in this big a family?,” said Rashida (20), Khurshidan’s granddaughter.
So far, 57 FIRs and arrest of 170 persons have been made in this case in the district. Meanwhile, Haryana government has issued an order to transfer deputy superintendent, Jai Prakash. A police spokesperson said it was part of routine transfers