The inhumane Delhi Riots last year left a stain on the books of history and on the minds of people. The property damage was heavy, still can be recovered, but the effect it has left on the minds of people is huge. Especially on the young ones who haven’t seen that much of life as they have seen brutality and grief. Children who have lost their parents or the one who don’t even know what parents mean and will probably never know. What impact will this trauma bring on their personalities and their view towards the secular nation?
On a perfect sunny morning of 23rd February 2020, people collected hope and gathered in front of the Jafrabad Metro Station for the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) planned by the Bhim Army, no one knew how things were going to turn out. Torched houses and shops, brutally killed people, vandalised places of worship and a trail of such horrifying incidents which the day was going to bring with it was known to none.
One thing led to another and the rest of that we know today is too horrifying. Heavy damage was caused to private property, more than 53 people lost their lives, hundreds were injured, several had minor injuries and many are still unreported. Policemen, officials, vendors, men, women, teenagers and even infants were not pardoned from the brutal blood bath.
Several people who left their houses never came back, even their bodies could not be identified. Uncountable children lost their parents, some were not even old enough to understand what a parent means? They just lost their kind playmates and caretakers. Loss is a small word to describe their pain. The mantle fell on them at a very young age.
What will these children grow into? Children who have seen their friend’s house burning, their own houses being vandalised. Their fathers who never came back, their sisters who were grabbed in front of their eyes. Their plastic toys melting in the fire and their colourful dreams getting darker with the rising smoke all around. What vision for life will they carry?
Research done on children who have suffered from trauma states that changes related to thinking and behaviour are more likely to happen in 60% of children who have gone through even a minor trauma in their childhood. This trauma could be due to the loss of a loved one, sexual abuse or any other serious event which has formed an impact on them.
It is a myth to believe that childhood trauma does not affect children in their growing age. On the contrary, these children are at increased lifetime risk of psychological issues. The effect of such trauma can stay life long and can appear at any age. They can suffer from depression, anxiety and anger management issues. Moreover, they are more likely to carry the motive of revenge and hatred life long. It will always be a part of their memory.
These children may carry a different perspective on life. The granddaughters of a 60-year old Delhi resident who lost his two sons in the riots may feel unsafe and abandoned in the same country where their father and uncle were killed. The unborn child of the 22-year-old auto driver who was shot dead will always have a void in its life.
What ideals are we planning to teach these children? How will we define brotherhood and non-violence to them? What meaning will they derive from the bold words of the constitution which declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic. Will their loss ever let them live through the lens of an ideal society? Or the biggest question: Will the bloodbath of revenge ever stop? These are not just questions, these are glaciers which are ready to fall and cause landslides in the same land.
Revenge was never an option and never will be. But how will one explain this to them? Money can help to an extent but cannot heal emotions. The Government should avail free psychological help/counselling facilities for the young ones. They must feel supported and taken care of, and for obvious reasons it would be better if it comes from the government.
In the past year, when the topic of mental health has been raised widely, the psychological instability of trauma ridden children and their guardians should also be brought to light. They should be checked time and again for any symptoms of depression, anxiety or behavioral changes. They must receive high level care and good education which can help them grow.
The idea of secularism, socialism and a democratic nation can only be saved if the upcoming generations promises to take them forward. Those who have seen the Delhi Riots are not the only children of trauma but there exists uncountable children of trauma in parts of India who don’t feel safe in their own motherland. If we wish for a better society tomorrow, we must try to understand the mental state of such children and work upon them from today.
Syed Taqui Haider is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Malaika M Khan
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.