A CPI(ML) team led by the Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya visited the Malakpur and Jaula relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts on 8 January 2014. The team also included Party Politburo members Swapan Mukherjee and Kavita Krishnan, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, and Vice-President of AIKM Prem Singh Gehlawat. The team was also accompanied by activists of the All India Students’ Association (AISA), Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) and the JNU Students’ Union President Akbar Chawdhary.
Summary of Observations
The Extent of the Communal Violence Is Being Understated
1. The scope of the communal violence is far greater than what the Government of UP admits. The number of those missing since the violence erupted is at least double the number to which the UP Government admits, and the death toll is likely to more than a 100.
2. Moreover, the violence affected not only Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts but also Baghpat and Meerut districts, and people from these four districts have fled due to communal violence and communal terror.
3. A large number of those displaced and rendered homeless by the communal violence are yet to be recognised as victims by the State Government. Even in the 9 villages identified by the Government as riot-affected, some 1500 ration-card holders who are currently displaced, are being denied compensation and recognition as riot victims.
4. Moreover, residents of more than 50 villages of Districts Shamli and Muzaffarnagar, and more than 30 villages in Districts Baghpat and Meerut, who fled in terror as they saw armed mobs attack their neighbouring villages, are also not being recognised as riot-affected, though they too have been displaced and their homes and property too were destroyed by the communal mobs. At Jaula relief camp, Vakeela, a widow aged 60, told us that she and several others fled, with children tied to women’s bodies, from Majra Hasanpur, a twin village to Lisadh. Although Hasanpur shares the same Pradhan as Lisadh, those who fled from there are not being recognised as bona fide victims of the riots!
5. Those who have fled following communal violence in Baghpat too, are not being recognised as riot victims. Victims of communal terror as well as communal violence, are equally deserving of compensation, relief and rehabilitation – this is a principle that the UP government is violating.
The Government’s Unlawful Attempt to Cleanse Villages of Minorities
1. A GO dated October 26th 2013 sanctioned Rs 90 crore for rehabilitation of displaced families of nine villages. The conditions cited for the payment of financial assistance are unconstitutional and shocking. The order demands that in order to receive the amount of Rs 5 lakh per family, the affected person must sign an affidavit stating that the family “left the village and their house due to fear, and will not return to the village and house under any circumstances”!
2. This was followed by another GO dated November 25th, amending the earlier GO, and adding an even more stringent condition: “After receiving the compensation amount, if any family voluntarily returns to live in their village/house in future, then they shall return the amount received, otherwise the amount in question shall be recovered from them in the same manner as recovery of land revenue”!
3. Riot victims who accepted compensation were served notices stating that if they failed to leave the relief camps, the State would initiate proceedings to take back the rehabilitation package!
Whatever land and other property these riot survivors had in their villages are being systematically grabbed in what can only be described as a campaign of communal cleansing. Most shockingly, it is the state government which is endorsing this campaign with its seal of official approval. Riot survivors who have received compensation from the government have had to give written undertakings promising never to return to their villages or claim any compensation for the loss or damage of property suffered.
Situation in the Camps
1. The residents of the camp are mostly labourers. Having lost their livelihood as well as their homes, they are destitute now. The riot-displaced people are understandably reluctant or afraid to return to their villages even as relief camps are being bulldozed and they are being re-evicted.
2. The residents of the camps are in a state of terror and insecurity – not only of communal flare-ups but of Government bull-dozers.
3. Women in the Malakpur camp told us that a large number of babies had been born in the camp itself. With Shamli havng the closest hospital, the fact was that births took place in highly insecure conditions of the camp itself. When they do go to the hospital, doctors there misbehave with them, saying ‘haraam ka kha rahe ho’ (you are idle people subsisting on charity). There was a grave of babies who died at the Malakpur camp.
4. Women did not want to speak of rape instances, though some did admit to ‘misbehaviour’ on part of the rioters.
5. The Kandla camp had been evicted, and shifted to private lands
6. Medical conditions at the camps are alarming. There are many with serious illnesses – cancer, respiratory illnesses, TB, and gynaecological complications – who have no access to medical care. We met Imrana at the Jaula camp, whose two-month-old foetus had miscarried 12 days back, and she had been unable to go to a hospital to get the uterus cleansed, since she lacked money even for transport.
7. And now with police stories of attempted LeT recruitments from among Muzaffarnagar riot survivors claiming media attention, the agenda of relief and rehabilitation is getting further sidelined. The people in the riot camps were vocal in their anger at the leaking or planting of such police stories, which they fear are further vitiating the communalised atmosphere in the region.
8. We saw a school at the Jaula camp – being run by young Afsar, himself a riot survivor. 102 kids including 35 girls study at the makeshift school – on a balcony in the bitter cold – learning basic mathematics, alphabets, language and grammar, and playing games. The disruption of schooling and education is a loss that it will be very hard to compensate and correct.
The UP State Government of the Samajwadi Party that has completely abdicated from its responsibility to prevent communal violence, and to ensure relief, rehabilitation and justice for the survivors. So far, the Central government has remained a silent spectator to the shocking aftermath of the Muzaffarnagar violence. Under Article 355 of the Indian Constitution, the Centre has the power to intervene in such situations and instruct the state government to discharge its constitutionally mandated responsibility. But as on many previous occasions, the Centre has once again failed to intervene and guarantee relief, rehabilitation and justice for the riot victims of Muzaffarnagar. The Supreme Court had asked the State Government to ensure facilities in the relief camps; instead it is busy trying to close down the relief camps. This blatant violation of even the Supreme Court’s order is further ground for the Centre’s immediate intervention.
Campaign for Justice for Muzaffarnagar
In the wake of reports of children dying in Muzaffarnagar relief camps even as Mulayam Singh, Akhilesh Yadav and family were busy celebrating a carnival to greet the New Year, the CPI(ML) took up a national campaign to collect relief, hold nationwide protests and help in the battle for justice for Muzaffarnagar. Nearly 3 lakh rupees were collected in a three-day campaign from 28-30 December. A team comprising Comrades Prem Singh, Aslam Laxmeshwar Mishra and others from Delhi, Advocate Tahir Hussain of the People’s Front of India, and Comrade Afroz Alam, member of UP State Committee visited some relief camps on 28-29 December with some blankets, mufflers and food articles. A second team led by Comrade Dipankar visited camps in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar on 8 January and handed over a cheque of Rs 1 lakh to the relief camp in Jaula village and another Rs 75000 for relief operations in Kandhla.
Countrywide protests were held on 2nd January demanding justice for Muzaffarnagar riot victims and a memorandum forwarded to the President of India demanding central intervention in UP under Article 355 to ensure relief, rehabilitation and justice to the riot victims.
A massive dharna was held in Patna addressed among others by Comrade Dipankar, Advocate Javed Ahmed of Patna HC and leaders of Shoshit Samaj Dal and Bhartiya Momin Front. In Delhi, a dharna was held at Jantar Mantar protesting against the Uttar Pradesh Govt’s extremely insensitive action of bulldozing of the relief camps meant for riot survivors of Muzaffarnagar thus forcefully evicting them. The dharna also demanded for the passage of Communal Violence Bill in the upcoming session of the Parliament.
Students from all the universities of Delhi participated in this dharna in significant numbers. Organisation of the Ex-AMU students in Delhi-NCR also participated in this dharna. CPI(ML) Politburo member Comrade Swapan Mukherjee, RYA leader Aslam Khan, AISA leaders Shweta, Farhan, JNUSU President Akbar Chaudhary, JNUSU Jt.Secy. Sarfaraj Ahmed, AMU Old Boys’ Association Delhi-NCR President Irshad Ahmad, GS Muddassir Hayat and treasurer Shamsad Khan among others spoke at the dharna. The protest dharna was conducted by Comrade Ravi Rai, RYA General Secretary.
In Uttar Pradesh, a Dharna and demonstrations were held at Lucknow and Robertsganj. Party activists from Sitapur, Faizabad, and Ambedkarnagar participated in the Lucknow dharna. Public meeting was held at Chandauli in Mughalsarai after a procession. In Mirzapur a demonstration was held. In Ghazipur a march was taken out before the dharna. In Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, and Deoria processions were held before culminating into protest meetings. Dharna was held at district HQs of Mau, Ballia, Bhadohi, Jalaun, and Muradabad. In Lakhimpur-Khiri, dharna was held at two centres, district HQ and Palia tehsil. Programmes were held at several other places.
The protest dharnas sent a demand letter addressed to the President of India through the District Magistrate or Collector. In Mathura too a party delegation handed over a demand letter to the DM.
In TN, protests have followed fund raising for the riot victims. Protests were held in Chennai, led by Comrade Munuswamy and main speaker was Party’s Politburo member Comrade Kumaraswamy. RYA leader Comrade Bharathi also addressed the protest.
At Mayiladuthurai several party members, people and Muslim organisations participated in the protest. Demonstrations were also held at Pudukottai, Rasipuram, Kumarapalyam in Namakkal district, Villupuram Collectorate, Karanodai in Thiruvellore, and Coimbatore. Demonstrations were also held at Srinagar, Rudrapur, and Haldwani in Uttarakhand. .