Delhi’s 15-bed hospital attended 600 injured, refuged hundreds

A small hospital, the Al-Hind Hospital, in the riot-torn Mustafabad in Delhi’s neighbourhood was flooded with patients, and it also became a place of refuge for people whose homes were burned or destroyed this week.

Doctors described being overwhelmed on Monday and Tuesday when dozens of wounded streamed into the 15-bed, two-storey building. Some were carried on people’s shoulders and others on wooden carts, stretching the hospital’s resources to the limit.

Many medicines ran out, as did oxygen supplies. But the flow of patients didn’t stop, said doctor Mehraj Ekram.

“We were all crying as we treated them. For the rest of my life, I will not be able to shake those days from my mind,” he said. “The brutality with which people had been beaten, it’ll never leave me.”

“At one point, we had to pull the shutters down, because we could not take in more people,” he said, tears welling up in his eyes.

The hospital that was built two years ago to make up for the lack of good primary care in the area, said the facility was only built to give patients basic initial treatment.

But, as thousands gathered around the hospital on Tuesday, ambulances could not enter to take patients to bigger hospitals, said Anwar.

Amid the cries of worried families, Anwar contacted lawyers who secured a midnight hearing from a High Court bench in Delhi that eventually ordered the police to escort ambulances to the entrance.

Al-Hind had no mortuary. As they got into an ambulance to take the dead bodies away, Anwar said the vehicle was chased by men wielding swords.

“I hope in my life I never have to witness such inhumanity again,” he said.

On Thursday, traumatized families sat at the hospital. Some had lost their homes and livelihoods.

Irshaad, a tailor who uses only one name, sat with his four young children and wife with a small pile of clothes – his house had been burned down.

“Everything is gone,” he said, breaking down. “What will my kids’ future be? I have no documents, nothing to show anymore.”

On the floor below lay 26-year-old Muslim Shabana Parveen, who had given birth after being beaten while heavily pregnant at her home on Tuesday.

She went into labour that day, and a Hindu neighbour took her to safety, she said.

“A mob came into my home and hit me with rods on my stomach. I didn’t think my baby would survive,” she said, as her rosy-cheeked infant yawned beside her. “I don’t know where I’ll go. We’ve lost everything.”

With over 42 deaths and hundreds injured in the worst sectarian violence in Delhi in decades, as groups of Hindus and Muslims clashed.

The violence began after weeks of protests over a citizenship law introduced by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, and it eases the path to Indian citizenship for minority groups from neighbouring Muslim-majority countries.

Critics say the law is biased against Muslims and undermines India’s secular constitution.

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