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A restaurateur’s kindness saved them as Haryana burned


As angry mobs bayed for blood in Haryana, Naveen Singh, restaurant manager at Haveli Murthal did all it took to protect his customers.

Jasdeep Singh and Amarjit Singh, two friends from Ludhiana were on their way back from Delhi on February 20 when they got stuck for two days, reaching the city only on February 22. They are two of a restaurant full of guests, whose lives, Naveen Singh, the manager at Haveli in Murthal (Haryana), saved that day.


“They were the most horrific days of my life. We felt like we were hijacked by a group of Jats. In the afternoon, we stopped at Haveli restaurant for lunch, never imagining that the hour-long stopover would stretch to two days. Naveen Singh told us about the conditions and advised us to stay indoors for some time. We thought it would take a few hours but it stretched to more than a day,” said Jasdeep Singh.

Singh asked them to park their cars behind the outlet as rioters were setting vehicles on fire. “We did so and after 10-15 minutes, we could see 500-700 people on the road with fire, sticks and guns. They were destroying everything in their path,” said Jasdeep.

“We were besides ourselves with fear and shuddered to think what would happen if they came inside. But Singh closed the main gate of Haveli and placed furniture as a bulwark,” he added.

The situation worsened on the second day, with the number of rioters up from 50-60 on day one to more than 300 on day two. “The situation was so bad that we kept hearing sounds of people screaming on the road, the air was acrid with smoke from burning vehicles, people were attacked and left on the road. We saw all this from a small window on the Haveli building,” said Jasdeep.

Singh, he said, did his best to reassure them. He was in touch with the SHO of a Haryana police station and kept giving them updates. There are no rooms in the popular eatery but he provided them bedding, quilts and sofas. Food was also provided free of cost.

“It was like we were living a nightmare. The only certainty was that anything could happen any time. Everything on road was afire, people were brutally attacked and many were killed, women were assaulted. It was the worse India could see, such horror and violence,” said Amarjit.

Naveen, he said, did his best to reassure them. He provided them bedding, quilts and sofas. Food was also provided free of cost.

The two friends decided to leave for Ludhiana at midnight on the second day. But the deathly calm broken by bursts of chilling cries left them on the edge. They found several burnt cars and mindless destruction around Sukhdev dhaba, located 300-400 mt. ahead.

“Our business requires considerable travel, especially to Delhi. But after what I saw, I am afraid of going to Delhi again. Out on the roads, we saw with startling clarity what would have happened to us had we not been sheltered in Haveli. Cars were burnt, women raped, roads dug up, property of common people destroyed. It is shameful,” said Amarjit.

Source: NRAI/Times of India

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