30000 riot displaced off govt's radar

Tens of thousands of people who relocated from riot-torn areas of Muzaffarnagar to areas with minority concentration find themselves out of the government's grid even three years after the violence forced them to flee their homes.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 8.09.16
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Children displaced during the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013. File picture

New Delhi, Sept. 7: Tens of thousands of people who relocated from riot-torn areas of Muzaffarnagar to areas with minority concentration find themselves out of the government's grid even three years after the violence forced them to flee their homes.

This is the main finding of a survey conducted by NGOs Aman Biradari and Afkar India of the 65 colonies that have come up in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli to house the 30,000 who were displaced when the 2013 riots broke out in the Uttar Pradesh districts.

The report - Living Apart: Communal Violence and Forced Displacement in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli - is aimed at drawing the state government's attention to the plight of these internally displaced people.

Harsh Mander, one of the authors of the report, said what was clearly evident was the complete absence of the state from rebuilding their lives.

Of the 65 colonies that have come up in Muslim-majority areas, 28 are in Muzaffarnagar and 37 are in Shamli. Together, they house 29,328 people, which means over 600 are still homeless since they were forced to relocate after clashes broke out in August-September that year.

These settlements have practically no civic facilities and many of those who have bought space in these squalid areas have to deal with the machinations of land sharks. Also, the displaced persons are not eligible for the government's 100-day job scheme (MGNREGA), while few have ration cards or are covered under the Integrated Child Development Services.

"Like in most riot cases, we again noticed that the displaced people get little value for the land they held and have to pay huge prices for buying a piece of land elsewhere. Their desperate condition is exploited by all, and it is time all state governments have in place a mechanism to make a positive intervention to address this situation," Mander said while briefing journalists about the findings.

Mander said the state government discouraged the displaced from returning home. "The primary duty of the state is to create conditions for the return of the displaced but here we saw the state incentivizing their relocation by providing Rs 5 lakh to families who gave an undertaking that they would not return," the former bureaucrat said.

According to the report, some Muslim community organisations, which came forward to help, offered support that often came with strings attached, including adherence to more orthodox beliefs.

"Today, a divided population here presents the triumph of communal politics, successfully undoing histories of shared living between Hindus and Muslims in the region over centuries," the report says.