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Muslim Migrants Denied Space by Own Community to Bury Dead in Uttar Pradesh

Nearly 400 families are trying to build their lives afresh in Budhana but are largely seen as outsiders in their own community

  • Nearly 400 families have migrated to Budhana village after the Muzzafarnagar riots in 2013
  • These muslim families feel like outsiders here due to their own community
  • Wearing of skull caps and growing beards have become prominent in the recent years in an effort to maintain identity and solidarity

Nearly 400 Muslim families are trying to build lives in the small town of Budhana, Uttar Pradesh after the Muzzafarnagar riots in 2013. However, these families, some of whom are dhobis, are largely seen as outsiders in their own families. The worst form of rejection that they experience is denial of ground space for burial of the dead. Burying the dead is seen as a very religious custom in Islam.

According to the Economic Times report, Graveyards have been a political issue in western Uttar Pradesh for a lot of years. The Samajwadi Party’s endeavors to build and beautify graveyards as part of the 300 crore project in 2012 as a poll promise has been marred by Sanjeev Baliyan who is using his MP funds to build crematoriums for Hindus.

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Budhana village. Image source: viewphotos.org

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The gram pradhan in Budhana had allotted land for a common graveyard, but this move wasn’t of much help, since people continued finding it hard to find burial space. Finding space was especially hard if one was a dhobi or a low born Muslim woman. These families had to dig up in places on their own, and they would often find graves of other people while digging, said the Economic Times report.

Today, graveyards are allotted to various muslim communities – Saifis, Ansaris, Qureshis, Kumbe,Abbasis, Sheikhs and others, but none for the families that have migrated from places of violence. These communities have to pay around 1000 to 2000 rupees, or settle with burying their loved ones on top of other graves, which is considered not as effective a practice.

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In Bhainswal village, of Muzaffarnagar district, Muslims are disheartened by the fact that their graveyards are being taken over by the others. Cow dung, jaggery mounds and sometimes even garbage heaps are found in these graveyards, to the distress of the Muslims. Once home to around 500 families, barely 20 families reside in this village. Battles in the High Court are being fought to disallow the illegal encroachment of structures upon graveyard lands, said the Economic Times report.

Professor Sudhir Panwar, Member of Planning Commission, UP, had studied the migration in 2013 and its impact on the socio-economic dynamics of the population in the region. He told Economic Times that issue needs to be analyzed with utmost care since it affects not only politics, but also the social relations in the state. For example, wearing of skull caps and keeping beards, which has become a common sight now, was not a prominent practice earlier. It has only grown stronger in the recent years in an effort to retain identity.

-prepared by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96

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