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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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UP Man Invents A Shredder Machine To Wipe Out Stubble Burning Issue

Gangaram's this simple innovation could help governments fight the menace of stubble burning

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Bicycle-based shredder machine
Bicycle-based machine can crush particles of the crop residue and can be turned into compost and farmers will not require any chemical fertiliser. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Even as the Centre and the state governments are trying to find a solution to the menace of stubble burning, an innovator from Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur claims to have developed a cost effective solution. Ganga Ram Chauhan has invented a bicycle-based shredder machine which can crush and grind elements, including wood, leaves and crop remains into particles of less than 80 mm size. These particles can then be easily converted into compost. The machine costs only around Rs 5,000-6000, he says.

“A scientist Mita Tarafdar asked me to develop a machine for zero waste management. Stubble burning was an issue that I had always wanted to deal with. So I developed a bicycle-based shredder machine. Crushed particles of the crop residue can be turned into compost and farmers will not require any chemical fertiliser. They can sell their bio crops and vegetables at higher prices,” said Ganga Ram Chauhan.

Senior principal scientist Mita Tarafdar, from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur (CSIR-NML), said that the machine was kept at the centre and can be improvised to benefit farmers and also check pollution due to the stubble burning.

The 50-year-old Ganga Ram Chauhan constantly keeps innovating and was awarded by the Yogi government in 2018 for his innovations.

bicycle-based shredder machine which can crush and grind element
Fumes of smoke seen as farmers burn straw stubble after harvesting the paddy crops in a field. Pixabay

He had developed ‘bogie-rickshaw’ for school children in the year 2000, and has been inventing many useful machines ever since.

“My father was a plumber in Gorakhpur. I am not a science graduate, but technology and invention run in my blood. I had invented a bicycle which can be cycled very easily and its rear tyre does not wear out fast. My invention was approved by the CSIR- NML Jamshedpur and I was awarded for the same by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanth last year,” he said.

ALSO READ:- Eight Kannada authors who have won ‘Jnanpith Award’

Chauhan said: “I am not good at English and do not know the engineering jargon which makes it tough for me to explain and publicise my inventions.”

But, Gangaram’s this simple innovation could help governments fight the menace of stubble burning and may also help curb the rising pollution. (IANS)