Chronicle Of Death
It’s difficult to miss the giant hoarding of Mulayam Singh Yadav as you leave NH-58 to turn left towards Muzaffarnagar. The Samajwadi Party leader lords over the road, deserted at present because of the curfew in its riot-hit parts. His commanding presence is in sharp contrast to a blatant abdication from the state government run by his party. In religious violence the past week between Jats and Muslims that took 38 lives in less than 36 hours, it failed to control things at all initially—some would argue deliberately. As the city nears, the fear, anger and insecurity are palpable. It’s writ large on every face that peers out of narrow street corners, windows, rooftops. This western UP district HQ, normally a sickly-sweet sugarcane sink, is still a live bomb.
Her face marked by shrapnel wounds, Khairunnisa was lucky to have survived. Seated next to her injured daughters—Azra and Aqsa, five and 10 respectively—at the district hospital in Muzaffarnagar, the 35-year-old recounts the violence her village, Bahawadi, witnessed on the afternoon of September 8. “A mob of more than 30 attacked our houses. This was when most of the men had gone out. They killed my brother-in-law, Dilshad. Some of us women and children hid inside the kitchen but they broke the doors and fired at us. My niece Iqra was shot in the head and died. They slit my elder daughter’s stomach.”
The victims are from both sides of the religious divide. At the morgue in the same hospital, 70-year-old Dharampal is busy trying to identify his brother’s body among the dead in the feeble light of his mobile phone torch. The stench of the rotting bodies doesn’t make him flinch, but unable to find his brother, he is reduced to tears. He narrates how he and his family were attacked by Muslims near Purwalian village on their way back from the Jat mahapanchayat on August 7. They found themselves suddenly ambushed by men who jumped out of the adjacent sugarcane fields to block their way. “They killed our men and threw the bodies in the canal. Our tractors were burnt and many were injured,” he tells Outlook.
Only a couple of weeks back, Outlook had reported on the rise in communal unease and incidents of low-scale religious violence in western UP (Knifing Rampur, Sep 2). These fears have now been fully realised in a game where communal instincts, political interests and lawlessness came together to create the ‘perfect, made to order’ riot.
The bloodbath played out essentially for 36 hours, starting on the morning of September 7 and lasting till the night of September 8. Riots are normally an urban thing; this time the violence travelled deep into the hinterland in Muzaffarnagar, and scarred villages even in the surrounding districts of Saharanpur, Meerut, Baghpat and Shamli. The initial hours were the toughest for the authorities. “Policemen were helpless; there was stone-pelting and firing by both communities in their dominant areas,” says a senior official from the district. “We hadn’t seen such use of arms and organised guerrilla warfare before.” The state police and the paramilitary forces did the usual holding job on the ground but the situation was brought under control only when the army was called in. As a top army officer put it, “Had we been late by another few hours, the death toll would have been in three digits.” That still remains a possibility as bodies being recovered from canals, sugarcane fields and adjoining forests could well take the final toll well beyond the official figure. In fact, even two days after the violence, the army rescued 150 Muslims from Kamalpur village and three elderly Muslims from Kutba.
Left with nothing A Muslim disorientedly surveys his house, looted and burnt down, in Kutba village. (Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari)
To a casual eye, things seem almost normal in the city. But look carefully and you can see the smoke still coming out of burnt houses and mosques and torched vehicles. Several Muslim households are still empty, except for the livestock left behind. Shaukat Mohammed, 38, says he can never think of going back to his village, Kutba. “I’ll die here (in Basikalan, a Muslim-dominated village five km away where he has sought refuge). We are left with nothing; my relatives were killed brutally by those who had been our neighbours for decades.”
It was Basikalan, in fact, that was the ground zero for the conflict. A group of Jats had stopped here on the morning of September 7 on their way to a mahapanchayat at Nagla Mandor. Shouting slogans like ‘Musalmanon ka ek sthan, Pakistan ya Kabristan’, they reportedly chopped the beard of an effigy dressed in Muslim clothes and whose stomach they stabbed with swords repeatedly. Someone apparently threw a stone in retaliation, and the communal tinderbox was well and truly lit.
There are more than 20 villages from where Muslims have been forced to flee or have been resettled by the administration to prevent further rioting. “Our prime focus is to ensure there are no further clashes beyond this and that the belongings of those who left their homes are recovered,” says Rajesh Srivastava, ADM, finance, of Muzaffarnagar.
What do we do if they molest our girl? Jat community members in Kutba village. (Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari)
However, people like Sanjeeda Begum and Lateefan, both in their late 50s, don’t want to return to their village Bhudana, where they say they have “lost everything”. Like most others who don’t have relatives, the couple has sought shelter in a madrassa. The administration is providing them with medicines and food. At Tawli village, where Imran from Kaharadgaon has taken refuge, he voices what all affected Muslims are feeling: “We live in fear. There is no one to take our complaints at police stations either.”
Back in Kutba, tension begins at the very entrance to the village. Even having a beard arouses suspicions in Hindu-dominated areas. As soon as the car carrying the Outlook team entered Kutba, a group of youngsters fled immediately. It took several minutes to convince the locals that the visitor was a journalist. There is anger among the Jats. “They molested a girl from our community and then killed her brothers. What should we do? This government is blind when it comes to Muslims. They didn’t even listen to us,” says Brahma Pal Singh of Kutba. Adds Yogendra Singh, a farmer whose fields lie between his Jat-dominated village and a Muslim one, “We can’t go to our fields. The fear of being killed by the people of the other community has put us under self-imposed house arrest.”
Rumours of the missing and possible dead are only adding to the panic. Social media apps on mobile phones, in fact, fanned the flames rather than do any good. It is not uncommon to find people having Facebook, WhatsApp and WeChat on their phones. Taufiq in Shahpur village, in fact, asks me if I’ll add him on my Facebook page.
While the attacks were launched from both sides, the majority of the dead are Muslims, a clear setback for Mulayam’s consciously cultivated image of “protector of Muslims”. “Muslims are losing faith in the SP,” says Arshad Madani, president of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind. “How can they assure us such incidents won’t be repeated, especially when Amit Shah and Modi are the face of a party and ideology in the state?” Ironically for the SP, both the Muslims and the Jats are blaming the state government for not ensuring their safety and appeasing the other side. “The riots were pre-planned by the BJP workers,” says Mohammed Arif Siddiqui, local SP leader and chairman of the Shahpur town area municipal body. “This is a complete failure of intelligence, police, local administration and the state government.” The Hindus, especially the Jats, on the other hand, are reinvoking ‘Maulana’ Mulayam, saying they have lost faith in his government.
So, how did things spiral out of control? Both sides see a conspiracy and planned action from the other side. “Despite section 144 of the CrPC being imposed, Muslims assembled in large numbers at Shaheed Chowk after Friday afternoon prayers at the Fakkarshah mosque on August 30,” says Sanjeev Kumar, a resident of Muzaffarnagar’s civil lines area. “The DM and ssp went there to receive a memorandum from them. What a mockery of law and order!” A local official told Outlook that there were no directions from Lucknow to stop the mahapanchayat and that the administration was under political pressure. As Syed Shah Alam, the Muslim leader from Muzaffarnagar, put it, “It looks like a planned violence. These riots are a success of the Hindu and Muslim extremist forces and a complete failure of the Uttar Pradesh government.”
By Panini Anand in Muzaffarnagar district, Uttar Pradesh
Apropos your cover story (Sense of a Riot, Sep 23), amidst all the gore and hatred of Muzaffarnagar, there were indeed a few reports of the sort of compassion that can save our nation. Bijender Singh, the Jat pradhan of Kharad village, sheltered 150 Muslim families in his home in the middle of the communal mayhem all around. He and his gentle wife fed the families with their own rations. Some violent villagers bayed for attacking the house, but the heavy-set Bijender said he would have been prepared even for that. This is our India; this is our Bharat.
R. Saroja, Mumbai
Muslims have to realise that given the realities of the current world order, it’s a survival of the fittest. And by that I don’t mean muscle power but education and a smart adaptability to seize opportunity whenever it presents itself. Mainstream education and hard work are a must and those Muslims who have pursued it have no reason for fear or despair. They don’t have to depend on the pittance and freebies thrown at them by their political exploiters.
S. Veera, Bangalore
The one thing these riots have proved is that Akhilesh Yadav is a big letdown, a poor copy of dad Mulayam. Despite being young and foreign-educated, he has been a failure and he certainly has not been able to come into his own. All in all, a big letdown for the youth, in whose name we invest so much in the country.
Col R.D. Singh (retd), Ambala Cantt
It is amazing how the Centre has let Lucknow get away with these engineered communal riots. Had this been Gujarat or Tamil Nadu, its reaction would have been far more virulent. This is only because the Congress-led upa is in the icu and the Samajwadi Party is providing it the vital oxygen to survive.
C.K. Subramaniam, Mumbai
Anti-Indian international forces can possibly take advantage of the communal hatred political parties are fomenting for political gains to weaken India. They won’t even need to send terrorists to India. We will do ourselves enough harm on our own.
G. Anuplal, Bangalore
Politicians, if they really are interested in all-round development of people, should probe the reasons for underdevelopment and work towards removing the impediments responsible for inequality among citizens. Minority appeasement is not the answer. Help should be extended on the basis of need, not language or religion.
Subrata Nandy, on e-mail
Do our politicians make the calculation that every Muslim life lost is also a vote gone?
Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi
The only hope for Muslims, as I see it, is not to depend on politicians for their safety and upliftment.
A.K. Ghai, Mumbai
In a political struggle, democratic or otherwise, the general mass of people are always an expendable commodity.
R.V. Subramanian, Gurgaon
Come election season, and cheap politics comes into play. The Muzaffarnagar riots are only another example.
Mahesh Kumar Kapasi, Delhi
The photographs accompanying the cover story on the Muzaffarnagar riots (Sense of a Riot, Sep 23) reminded me of Partition. I was still in school in Lucknow then, and remember a friend saying that our province was now to be called Uttar Pradesh. What would Nehru, Pant and Shastri have said about these gruesome, ghastly shots of their beloved province?
Muzaffarnagar riots: For Rs 5 lakh, 900 families give up their right to return home -Pritha Chatterjee
-The Indian Express
Muzaffarnagar: With winter setting in, and the conditions in relief camps fast deteriorating, over 900 displaced families in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts have signed affidavits stating that they will not return to their villages, in return for a compensation of Rs 5 lakh from the state government.
"Main aur mere parivar ke sadasya apne gram mein hui hinsatmak ghatnaon se bhayakant hokar gaon va ghar chhodkar aaye hain, tatha in kinhi bhi paristhitiyon mein ab apne mool gaon evam ghar nahin lautenge ( I and my family left our village and our home due to the violent incidents there. We will not return to our village and home under any circumstances)," says the affidavit.
The affidavit, which was first ratified by a government order on October 28 and revised on October 29, adds that the compensation will only be used for rehabilitation in "any other land, arranging residence elsewhere", and that such rehabilitation will not be in any "government, non-government or village land occupied illegitimately".
The affidavit also states that those who take the compensation will not be eligible for any other government compensation "for property in their village, or any more immovable property".
The affidavit is being offered as an option to 1,600-odd families in the nine "worst affected" villages of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. The district administrations transfer the Rs 5 lakh electronically, within hours of getting the signatures.
"We had identified 950 families, of which compensation has already been given to 620 families. We are transferring the money electronically on the day people sign the affidavits," said Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma.
However, officials in both the districts maintained that the property or land owned by the displaced people "will continue to remain in their names "
Well where is Teesta -no where as no Petro Dollars involved so not interested to take the cudgels on behalf of the Muslims of UP ??
Hope ever so vigilant BI SAROJA WHO FIGHTS FOR THE RIGHTS OF MUSLISM WILL NOW COME FORWARD !1
I have no hope from our Dear FARUKI 0R HIS RUDLAI BRIGADE TO SPEAK FOR UP MUSLIMS because Modi is not involved .
Vinod Mehta and Outlook even did not car eto publish this story because they are angry because BJP raided their group in 2001 !!
Well Mehta you always fought and stood for the rights of the down trodden -ab kayon Aap ko saanp sungh gaya ??
Where are Msulanas who goaded Muslims to vote for SP ??
Muslims should better realize that the duplicitous games of all the self declared Secus .
Better move towards Hindus so that we can live harmoniously and prosper together.
For Indian Shylocks you are just Votes !
Mulayam's family party is an extension of the Indian Mujahideen "" Prdeep
" Shahjahanpur DM orders half day in govt schools to allow Friday namaz
Citing an order issued in 2004 by then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, District Magistrate (DM) Shahjahanpur, Rajmani Yadav, has declared half day in all government primary schools on Friday so Muslims teachers can offer their 'juma namaz'.
The normal timing of government primary schools during winters is from 10 am to 4 pm, which has now been changed to 7:30 am to 12:30 pm on Friday. "Their namaz begins from 12:30, so I have changed the timings. It has been done on the basis of a 2004 government order," said Rajmani Yadav.
In 2004, when Mulayam had issued the orders for a half day holiday in all schools up to the intermediate level so Muslim teachers and students could offer namaz, it had become an issue. Muslims claimed they had not demanded any such privilege and the BJP protested against the decision.''
This move is Test move by SP govt to gauge the reaction of the Voters especially Muslims because SP Govt has lost all its standing with Muslims .
The Indian Express found no Muslim family has returned to Kutba, Kutbi, Lakh and Lisar, some of the worst-affected villages.
In some villages, jats claimed they were trying to bring back the Muslims. "We met the camp organisers and asked them to help us bring them (Muslims) back. We do not want to continue the animosity," Devender Pradhan, head of Kutba village, said.''www.indianexpress.com/news/muzaffarnagar-violence-villages-contradict-govt-claim-of-muslims-returning-home/1185076/0
Neither Centre nor the State Govts are doing any thing nor will do any thing further after the initial after the spate of vists of high and mighty and osme promises made nothing concrete step has been taken on ground .
Even cpward Nakli Secu-Psecu-Jehadi-Rudali brigade here on this board once a while raise the issue to score political points blaming only saffrons only but will not speak the truth and blame Mulayam,Azam and Sarkar being run by four dozen Uncles ji for this mess.
Muzaffarnagar :The Need to Dismantle the Institutionalised Riot Machinery
Communal organisations have perfected the art of manufacturing hatred against the ‘other’ community by cynically deploying rumour, innuendo and falsehood. The issue chosen to demonise the ‘other’ varies based on what would resonate and enrage most. In Partition, pork was thrown into mosques and beef into temples; later riots are spurred by rumours of cow slaughter, support to terror, and violence perpetrated by the ‘other’ community (the falsehood of the slaughter of Hindu students in hostels by Muslims led to the massacre of more than a thousand people in Bhagalpur).
In Muzaffarnagar, in the patriarchal Jat community, the issue chosen to foment hatred was women’s ‘honour’. The claim was that ‘love jihad’ was being waged, by which Muslim boys were equipped with smart clothes, deodorants and sweet talk to entice Jat girls into ‘love’ traps.
An unfortunate incident on August 27 in Kawal, in which three young men, one Muslim and two Jat were killed in violent clashes, was deployed as evidence of ‘love jihad’. The claim was that the Muslim youth was killed by the brothers of a Jat girl who he was stalking, and these brothers in turn were killed by a violent Muslim mob.
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