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Rebuilding Lives a Struggle: Three years on, Muzaffarnagar Riots victims await justice

The affected families got Rs 5 lakh each as compensation from the Uttar Pradesh government which they used to buy plots on the outskirts of Kandhla and built houses with the help of NGOs

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Source: wikipedia.org

KANDHLA(Uttar Pradesh), September 8, 2016: “I never saw such communal tension in my life,” Abdul Waheed, 65, recalls as his smile gives way to disarrayed wrinkles on his countenance.

Only moments earlier, Waheed — formerly of Hasanpur village in Shamli district — came across as a contented, cheerful, elderly man, cracking jokes with fellow villagers gathered around him.

But a question about what happened on the night of September 8, 2013, in his village unsettled him.

“We were holed up in Sanjeev’s compound. A frenzied mob waited outside to butcher us. They could have stormed in had Sanjeev not been an influential person,” Waheed recalled, seated on a cot outside his new house in a rehabilitation colony some four kilometres from their original village.

The Sanjeev Waheed was referring to is Sanjeev Singh, a Jat landlord who is now head of the panchayat under which Hasanpur falls. Waheed’s is one of the 100-odd families which escaped from their village during the Muzaffarnagar riots which claimed over 60 lives and left thousands homeless. Their escape was largely due to some of their Hindu neighbours who kept the mobs at bay.

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In Lisadh village, barely a kilometre away from Hasanpur, several Muslims were killed that night. The frightened Muslims fled to Jaula village and lived in a refugee camp for almost a year. Waheed shudders as he speaks.

A silence has descended on the small gathering that was minutes ago laughing and pulling each other’s legs. All of them stared at death only three years ago.

“A few in the village tried to foment trouble but some of the prominent villagers drove them away,” said Mehr Deen, a teacher, breaking the silence.

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The affected families got Rs 5 lakh each as compensation from the Uttar Pradesh government which they used to buy plots on the outskirts of Kandhla and built houses with the help of NGOs. The area has come to be known as Nai Basti.

“After the riots, people from our village met us and asked us to return. But we refused,” Deen said.

The first person to make the appeal was Sanjeev Singh, now the village head of Hasanpur and Lisadh.

“A few of us have been asking them to return. We want them back in their homes,” Sanjeev Singh told IANS over the telephone.

He recalled how he withstood pressure from his own community — he is a Jat — while protecting the Muslims. “A few were baying for their blood but I put my foot down and told the rioters that they will have to kill me as well. Then a few others (Hindus) supported me,” Sanjeev said.

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Chaudhary Narender Singh, an elderly Jat from Hasanpur, said he was happy for the Muslim families now that their lives are back on track. The Jats have even offered to repair the houses of the Muslims damaged during the riots. And a few Muslim families have returned.

Narender Singh had come to see Hanif Siddiqui and other villagers in their new settlement on his old Bajaj scooter.

“They have built pucca houses. I am happy for them though I would like them to return. But there is no point in asking them now,” Narender Singh said.

The new settlement is surrounded by Muslim-dominated villages. However, the affected Muslim families miss the traditional support system they once had in their original village.

There, the Muslims — petty traders or labourers — often borrowed money from well-off people on easy conditions. Now, the borrowing doesn’t come easy.

The local Muslims here usually keep a distance from the new settlers. “We don’t interact with the locals except for Zeeshan pradhan (headman),” said Shamshad, a labourer.

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There is also an undercurrent of resentment over the Rs 5 lakh compensation the settlers got from the government. “They would have returned, like a few others, but the money spoilt their brains,” a Jat villager of Hasanpur who did not wish to be named told IANS.

Muslims who have lived here traditionally were also critical of the newly-arrived Muslims for not offering regular prayers at mosques.

Amidst all the societal pulls and pressures, the affected Muslims are trying to build their lives anew. They await electricity and a two-kilometre pucca road till Kandhla town. (IANS)

  • Shaas

    “Affected Muslims are trying to build their lives anew”? Seldom I heard such a blatantly communal expression! It is a shame that you try to tell your readers that no Hindus were broken, killed, and harressed!

  • Arya Sharan

    Not only the Muslims but all those who were affected by the violence should be helped to rebuild and start things afresh.

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  • Shaas

    “Affected Muslims are trying to build their lives anew”? Seldom I heard such a blatantly communal expression! It is a shame that you try to tell your readers that no Hindus were broken, killed, and harressed!

  • Arya Sharan

    Not only the Muslims but all those who were affected by the violence should be helped to rebuild and start things afresh.

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Triple Talaq Act is Not a Commodity, Nor are Women Doormats

Where are the conscious intellectuals in the country now, like those award-wapsi groups; and why is the media holding back from denouncing the perpetuation of the baneful practice?

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If we don’t cry now, Triple Talaq, and such other vices, might go digital, and burn millions of households.

BY: SALIL GEWALI

Election season in India is like a festival for many. For some parties’ workers, it is an occasion for joy, and merrymaking too. This is also the time when leaders respond to your phone calls! They hardly miss to send you even birthday wishes, thanks to the automated reminders that help even unkind leaders to put on the face of kindness and generosity with ease.

Well, a flurry of promises is now being made. Some are logical while some are very illogical. Some are even unconstitutional and outrageous. And this all goes to prove that certain political leaders can go to any extent for votes. Their aspirational leaders speak out without thinking. The prime objective is to please the voters. Moreover, making promises does not cost anything.

In the process of pleasing some, certain leaders have grievously hurt many others. They are also now unashamedly getting at Triple Talaq Act. They are bargaining with the certain voters over this as a saleable commodity. Is it not a sore point with female folks? Just imagine how hurt the fathers of million daughters in the country must be.  Again, a sane person should agree that Triple Talaq has been heavily misinterpreted and thus abused for centuries, as all the laid down strict conditions are ignored and moral associated overlooked. Even our immediate neighbor Pakistan, an Islamic country has long abandoned it because of the increasing misuse of the Islamic law.

Triple Talaq
Political leaders can go to any extent for votes and their aspirational leaders speak out without thinking. Their prime objective is to please the voters.

Yes, we well know how hard the present government had fought with the adversaries to bring in the bill against this regressive custom. Modi government certainly deserves the praises for this bold step forward. This bill will definitely save both men and women in many aspects.  Women from their husbands’ atrocities and men from committing sin!

But now, with the MP election around the corner, the certain parties are stooping low to take advantage of this much-abused practice. In their course of campaign, the leaders are claiming that they will revoke the bill if voted to power. What is most disgusting is that even the woman leaders of Congress party, without a sense of guilt, are boasting about that their party will instantly restore the Triple Talaq. Is it not a very dangerous development itself? True, when people lust after one thing, they simply forget that they are walking on the path of vices! Where are the conscious intellectuals in the country now, like those award-wapsi groups; and why is the media holding back from denouncing the perpetuation of the baneful practice? This is indeed a real tragedy! 

Do we want the cutting edge of modern technology to be used to break off the marriage? Many marital ties have been severed by mere a phone call? Are women doormats or disposal items? One very upset mother of three daughters says —  ‘this misused practice has literally reduced the millions of talented women to living corpses!’ 

ALSO READ: India Says Pakistan’s Links with Pulwama Attack Clear For All to See

If the election and democracy are only to help get society to be more godless then we are definitely heading towards the anarchy. So damning, the leaders, who commit themselves to ensure the bright future for the society and better governance, can thus set about dragging the society into the whirlpool oppression, repression, and frustration. How on earth could we trust such kind of leaders and bet on their integrity? Have they not equally brought a bad name to other leaders of integrity?  Come on, let’s wake up and cry hard for the leaders of principle and moral who in fact can honestly promise to douse the fire of vices. If we don’t cry now, Triple Talaq, and such other vices, might go digital, and burn millions of households.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.