Joint Citizens’ Initiative hearing of Muzaffarnagar riots victims expresses distress at efforts to close down relief camps

muzaffarnagarA counterview.org report on the Joint Citizens’ Initiative hearing of the Muzaffarnagar riots victims close on the heels of the UP government’s efforts to close down the relief camps:

Participating in an event organized by Joint Citizens’ Initiative (JCI), a collective of NGOs and individuals for relief, rehabilitation and justice in Muzaffarnagar, representatives of victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots, which rocked the state in August-end 2013, said the Uttar Pradesh’s government machinery has refused to acknowledge displacement of families from villages where violence broke out. The victims visited Lucknow to represent before to the JCI’s NGO jury for hearing on January 7. Accusing the state government of playing “partisan” in offering relief and rehabilitation to Muzaffarnagar survivors, they added, the survivors were being forced to sign affidavits saying “they would not return to their villages, not live on government land, and not live in a relief camp” in exchange for relief money.

One of the representatives, Shamshad, a resident of Kharad village in Muzaffarnagar, said, “Two people were murdered and some mosques destroyed in my village. A mahapanchayat was orchestrated there as well on September 7, but the police watched and did nothing. Fearing for their lives, several people left the village. However, the state government says it does not recognize such displacement. Even though we had been rendered homeless, the state will only compensate those who faced violence.” Hadessa, who hails from Phugana village, one of the worst affected during riots, added, “I have been living in Jaula camp with my three children. My arm was broken when I ran to save my life but I have still not received compensation. The treatment for my injury was done in Delhi with the support of JCI.”

1514992_626041704100477_996478285_nAmong those who heard the victims were Gagan Sethi, founder, Janvikas, Ahmedabad; Kavita Shrivastav, national secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association; Roop Rekha Verma, founder, Sajhi Doniya; Siddharth Varadarajan, senior journalist and former editor, the Hindu; Farah Naqvi, member, National Advisory Council; and Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed. Suggesting that the same communal forces that orchestrated the communal riots of Gujarat in 2002 were now getting active in UP, Sethi said, “The vice-captain of Gujarat is now the UP coach. It is no surprise, therefore, that the one-day match (riots) we expected has occurred.”

While Sethi said India needs a formal policy to protect and rehabilitate Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Shrivastav raised the issue of sexual violence against Muslim women and questioned the state’s role in this matter. “In the few cases where FIRs have been filed, accused have not been arrested. In many other cases, even FIRs have not been filed,” she said. According to government data, though 233 cases of murder have been registered at various police stations in the riot affected villages, only 81 arrests have been made so far. Krishnan added that there were 72 pregnant women at the Loi relief camp at the time the state government decided to bulldoze it. “Does the government know where they have gone or where they will deliver in this cold weather,” she asked.

Hameed said, it is the responsibility of the state government to provide support to those willing to return to their homes. She underlined, “There are long and short term measures the government must formulate. The conditions in the camp I visited are dismal. People are living in sub-human conditions and need to be integrated with dignity.” Earlier, a memorandum to the state government seeking a single window system so that survivors could go through administrative formalities regarding compensation, rehabilitation, availing banking facilities, getting back lost identity documents and related issues.

Titled “Immediate halt to the dismantling of Muzaffarnagar riot relief camps and the forcible eviction of the riot affected inhabitants from relief camps”, petition expressed distress over  “absolutely  insensitive and inhuman action on the part of the UP government and administration  in  forcibly  removing and dismantling relief camps  across  Muzaffarnagar  and  Shamli districts, that house thousands of riot affected persons, who were left displaced in the aftermath of what is notoriously called the Muzaffarnagar riots that broke out in September 2013.”

1560437_626041734100474_139288761_nMemorandum to the UP chief minister

It said, “The forcible eviction is taking place, against the wishes of those living in these camps and is being done in a pressing haste by the UP government and administration without making any concrete, sustainable and viable alternative arrangements for the riot affected persons. In many of the cases, the compensation due to the victims is yet to be paid by the Uttar Pradesh government. To substantiate the claims I am making in this petition, I am attaching herewith several reports by independent media agencies, which also contain the on-record testimonies of those victims living in the relief camps” (click HERE for report)

Providing a recorded testimony of several victims from the relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts, who state that they have not yet received the due compensation from the government, nor are they willing to go back to their villages for various reasons, the petition said, “Most prominent amongst the reasons for not going back is the lack of action by the UP police on various complaints filed by the victims with respect to the horrific crimes perpetrated against them – ranging from murder, rape to destruction of property.”

1511253_626041957433785_766905588_nIt added, “The victims maintain that they are being threatened by the accused to withdraw their complaints before they can even step into their respective villages again. Use of humiliating and derogatory communal references like ‘Dadhi’ and ‘Katwa’ by members of the other communities in the villages has also affected the psyche of the victims and unless bridges of re-conciliation and love are built again it seems impossible that the victims would be willing to go back to their former villages. It is to be noted that the Uttar Pradesh government has done precious little when it comes to re-building the burnt bridges of trust between communities affected by the riots.”

Pointing out that the dismantling of the camps and the forcible eviction of the riot affected persons comes during the peak of winter when temperatures are falling to as low as 1.3 degree celsius in Shamli district, the further said, “It is only last week that the UP government, after remaining in denial for the longest period of time, reluctantly accepted that 34 children succumbed to the cold in the relief camps. Eviction of the riot-hit victims in this situation will definitely pose a very grave threat to their lives, especially given the fact that the government has been unable to provide them with adequate warm clothing and blankets.”

It added, “It is also to be noted that the Uttar Pradesh government has not given any written assurance to the inhabitants of the camps that they would be shifted to an alternate accommodation that will protect them from the near freezing temperatures.”

Giving instances, the petition said, “Cases of unauthorised occupation have been registered at the Shahpur police station against 30 families in Sanjhak village in the district by revenue officials. About 30 families displaced during the September riots had taken refuge in a graveyard on the outskirts of the village. The victims, most of them from Kinauna village, had erected tents to protect themselves from the vagaries of the weather. Media reports from Sanjhak village in Muzaffarnagar now give evidence of the fact that the displaced families had not received help in the form of food rations or other assistance from the government. They had to cope in makeshift shelters on a graveyard (click HERE for report)

1504958_626040927433888_1194886892_nFurther, the petition said, “Recently the Loee camp in Muzaffarnagar district has been completely dismantled. Loee camp housed 450 families. Officials claim that only 167 families from the camp have got Rs.5 lakh in compensation for resettlement. Muneesh Chandra Sharma, SDM of Muzaffarnagar’s  Budhana – under which Loee village falls has on-record admitted with respect to the evictions that have taken place from the Loee Relief Camp, ‘We don’t have any arrangements for those who have been evicted’.

It added, “Moreover ,on being questioned why the compensation has not been paid to other victims who were promised while being evicted, the DM Kaushal Raj Sharma admitted that another survey is being conducted to identify ‘real’ victims as there were malpractices in previous survey. Under such circumstances, one wonders on what basis and justification can the UP government even begin the process of eviction of victim” (click HERE for report).

“After cracking the whips on riot victims living in relief camps in Muzaffarnagar, the UP government has now intensified pressure on people staying in relief camps in neighbouring Shamli district. Heavy police team reached Bhora camp and used force to vacate the camp on 1st January. Also, atleast 100 families living in Mansoora village camp were booked on charges of encroachment on government land”, it said.

It added, “The UP government had earlier slapped similar charges in Malakpur camp too. On January 2, over a hundred families were evicted from the Kandhla Idgah relief camp in Shamli district. Reports of the forcible evictions can be found in all major media reports which are also being attached. Once again, the story remains the same as the Uttar Pradesh government has failed to make prior arrangements for all the inhabitants of the camps” (click HERE, HERE and HERE for report).

Concluding, the report said, “Dismantling of the camps and forcible evictions of its inhabitants, without proper identification and payment of compensation, in this bitter cold, would amount to the grossest form of human rights violations especially for the young children population housed in these camps that exceeds 35% of the population as per NGO estimates. It would be pertinent to state that Chief MinisterAkhilesh Yadav has claimed on record that there was no order to drive the refugee families out of the camps. Further he is on record to state as of December 29, 2013 that ‘no one would be forced to leave the camps.’ Thus, in deference of the orders of the Chief Minister, the UP government should halt all dismantling and evictions.”

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2 thoughts on “Joint Citizens’ Initiative hearing of Muzaffarnagar riots victims expresses distress at efforts to close down relief camps

  1. Please read also report of Late Justice A.S.Varma, Chairman of NHRC of 2002 post Godhra riots of Gujarat.
    How the Commission was treated at Ahmedabad and Vadodara /Godhra by the VHP activists.

  2. It is very unfortunate what is going on in Muzaffarnagar against Muslims. Muzaffarnagar Muslims riots are 1000 more than the Gujarat riots of 2002.
    There will be more Muzaffranagars before 2014 Parliament elections as the BJP declared his PM candidate Mr. Narendra Modi, CM of Gujarat. Now mr Amit Shah from Gujarat is looking the arrangements of UP elections. He is taking RSS workers meeting for BJP elections work in UP. Let us hope peaceful elections in 2014 with out any more communal riots.
    ======
    Terror attacks in India since 2004: The story so far By Niticentral Staff on July 11, 2013 Terror attacks in India since 2004: The story so far
    1 August 15, 2004: A bomb explodes in the North-eastern State of Assam, killing 16 people, mostly schoolchildren, and wounding dozens.
    2 October, 29, 2005: At least 66 people were killed when three blasts rip through markets in New Delhi.
    3 March 7, 2006: At least 15 people are killed and 60 wounded in three blasts in the pilgrimage city of Varanasi.
    4 July 11, 2006: Serial bomb blasts on Mumbai commuter trains, which claimed 209 lives and left more than 700 injured. However, the trial is still pending; attributed to Lashkar-e-Tayyeba terrorists.
    5 February 18, 2007: Firebombing of Samjhauta Express, in which 68 people were killed and at least 140 were injured. The trial in this case is still pending too. It is alleged that Abhinav Bharat was behind the attack.
    6 May 18, 2007: Bombing of Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad that claimed nine lives and injured 52 people. The trial is pending. It is alleged that Abhinav Bharat was behind the attack.
    7 May 22, 2007: Three bombs explode in Gorakhpur in which six persons were injured seriously. Indian Mujahideen is believed to be behind this attack. Uttar Pradesh Government is seeking to withdraw charges against accused Tariq Kasmi. The trial is pending in this case.
    8 August 25, 2007: Serial bombings rattled Hyderabad in which 42 people were killed and over 50 people were seriously injured. The attack was allegedly carried out by Indian Mujahideen. The trial is pending in this case too.
    9 October 11, 2007: Bomb at Ajmer Sharif shrine in which three persons were killed and at least 17 were injured. It was alleged that Abhinav Bharat was behind the attack. The trial in the case is pending.
    10 November 23, 2007: Bombs blasts in Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi at court complexes in which 13 people were killed and over 42 were injured. The trial is pending in this case too. The attacks were allegedly carried by Indian Mujahideen. The trial in this case is still pending.
    11 May 13, 2008: Serial bombings were carried by Indian Mujahideen in Jaipur. At least 63 people were killed and over 200 were injured. The trial in this case is pending, however, several alleged perpetrators have been acquitted.
    12 July 27, 2008: Serial bombings in Ahmedabad and Surat, involving record 52 IEDs. Trial is pending and the attacks have been attributed to Indian Mujahideen.
    13 September 13, 2008: Eight bombs were exploded in busy markets of Delhi, in which 56 people were killed and over 200 injured. The attacks were carried out by Indian Mujahideen. The trial in this case is pending.
    14 September 29, 2008: Twin bombings in Malegaon and Modasa claimed eight lives and left 80 seriously injured. It is alleged that Abhinav Bharat was behind the attack. The trial is pending.
    15 February 13,2010: Bombing at the German Bakery, in Pune killed 17 and injured 60. Himayat Baig was convicted and his appeal is pending in the court.
    16 April 17, 2010: Multiple bombs explode at MA Chinnaswamy cricket stadium, Bangalore. At least 15 people had sustained serious injuries in the attack. Indian Mujahideen allegedly carried out the attacks. Trial in this case is still pending.
    17 September 19, 2010: indian Mujahideen carried bomb blasts outside Jama Masjid in New Delhi. However, the trial is still pending.
    18 December 7, 2010: Two bombs were exploded at Shitla Ghat, Varanasi in which two persons were killed and 34 got seriously injured. The legal status of the case is unsolved.
    19 May 25, 2011: Car bomb explodes outside Delhi High Court. However, no casualties were reported. The case is still unsolved.
    20 July 13, 2011: Three bombs at Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Kabutarkhana, Mumbai. At least 26 people were killed and over 130 sustained injuries. The trial is pending. It was alleged that Indian Mujahideen was behind the attacks.
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    22 February 13, 2012: Bomb attack on Israeli diplomat’s car in New Delhi in which two persons were injured. The charges have been filed and the trial is underway. The attack was attributed to an Iranian intelligence-linked group.
    23 August 1, 2012: Serial bombings takes place in Pune in which one person was injured. The case is unsolved.
    24 February 21, 2013: Twin bombings in Hyderabad claimed 17 lives and injured 117. The case is still unsolved.
    25 April 17, 2013: Bomb blast at the BJP office in Bangalore injured 16 people. It was alleged that a jihadist group was behind the blast.
    26 July 7, 2013: Multiple bomb blasts rock the Mahobodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, in which two persons were injured. The probe is underway, however, no group has claimed responsibility so far.
    27.27.10.2013; Multiple Blasts in Patna in NaMo rally

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