OF THE 760 FIRs lodged at Kairana Police Station since January 2016, 12 concern crimes such as eveteasing, molestation etc. “Most cases are of dacoity, extortion,” says Circle Officer, Kairana, Bhushan Verma. “Even in the dehat (rural) areas and riot victim camps, theft is the basic problem.”
The NHRC team that visited Kairana in July-August to investigate claims of “Hindu exodus” submitted a report saying that the re-settling of Muzaffarnagar riots victims here had changed the demographics of the area. It also claimed that Muslim youths tease Hindu girls in Kairana town, leaving them scared to step out of home.
Suleman, 60, originally from Fugana village of Muzaffaranagar, lives in the ‘Hassanpur Colony’ relief camp set up by the Jamait-e-Ulema near Bhura road in Kairana Dehat. Expressing surprise at the NHRC report, he says they barely ever visit Kairana town.
“My three sons crush stones all day, then we get one meal a day. None of the families in the camp could offer qurbani this Eid, neither did we have the money for even sewain. We are so busy with our own problems, how we will go tease girls, that too in Kairana town some 20 km away? In the money we would spend going there, we can cook 10 chapatis.”
The camp has no sanitation facility, leaving at least half the members of each family suffering from diseases, says Mohd Imran. For clean drinking water, they must either walk several kilometres, or risk the solitary handpump, he adds.
Around 29,300 persons affected by the Muzaffarnagar riots are estimated to be living in 65 ‘colonies’ spread across Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. Ninety percent of them are located 15-20 km from nearby towns, where the NHRC report said Hindu girls were teased. The Indian Express visited almost 20 such camps in Kairana in Shamli district, and Kandhla and Muzaffarnagar in Muzaffarnagar district.
Mohammad Rafique lives just a few houses from Suleman in Hassanpur Colony, which houses around 1,200 refugees in 128 one-room pucca houses and around 80 huts. Rafique and his family of seven could only afford a straw hut.
For the first time since the family was displaced in the riots, he recently held a celebration — on October 8, his daughter got married.
The 54-year-old, originally from Khekhada village in Baghpat, spent the days leading to the ceremony trying to repair their dilapidated hut that had collapsed several times during the monsoon. Then he despaired about what to feed the guests. “I don’t have money. I earn barely Rs 100-200 a day doing labour,” he says.
Rafique’s daughter’s in-laws told him it was okay. However, tears in his eyes, Rafique says he can never pardon himself. “Unko chulhe ki roti aur pyaaz hi khila paya. Beti ko ek naya joda bhi nahin de paya. Allah ko kya munh dikhaunga (I could only feed them a roti and onion; could not give my daughter one new dress. How will I answer to Allah)?”
At another relief camp in Kairana Dehat, Jinnat Colony, women talk about their men who recently left to search for work. They are not expected back for the next six months. Similar is the case in nearby Safa Colony. Around 600 riot displaced stay in Jinnat Colony, which has around 78 one-room houses, with no sanitation or power connection. Safa Colony has 91 houses with around 500 people.
Tamanna, 10, has never been to school but likes flipping through books to look at the pictures. She sits fiddling with a ribbon as father Mohd Nadeen talks about getting her married soon. “This place is not safe at all. It’s actually no more than a forest,” he says.
Like Jinnat Colony, Ashraf Ali Colony in Kandhla with 450-500 riot victims and Aman Garden with around 90 such families, located in deserted areas, don’t have electricity. “Four people have died of snake bite here since 2014,” says Salimuddien, from Lisaad village in Muzaffarnagar, who lives in Hamza Colony.
Imtiaz Ali, who lives in Ekta Colony-1, Budhana, Muzzafarnagar, worries about the fact that his children haven’t gone to school for three years. “Here school is too far away and I am not at home to take them and get them back. I am forced to send them to a nearby madrasa. I know they won’t have a better future with this,” he says.
Maulana Mohammad Mustakeem, a maulana of the mosque visited by inmates of several camps near Kandhla town, says there are thefts and dacoities almost every week. “There is no power in any of the camps hence they are easy targets for thieves,” he says.
Abul Sattar, a resident of Safa Colony, says he had begged Samajwadi Party MLA Nahid Hassan for a power connection after a snake bit his mother while she was offering namaz at sunset. She survived.
Apart from the claim that Hindu women were facing harassment, the NHRC report said that due to “resettlement of 25/30 thousand members of Muslim community in Karana town from Muzaffarnagar district”, “the demography of Kairana town has changed in favour of the Muslim community”.
On October 17, the National Commission of Minorities contradicted the NHRC on this, pointing out that as per the 2011 Census, Kairana, with a population of 89,000-plus, was more than 80 per cent Muslim. Kandhla similarly is nearly 70 per cent Muslim.
Reiterating that Kairana town already had a Muslim majority, Wajid Hassan, Nagar Palika Chairman of Kandhla and a Samajwadi Party leader, says, “Addition of 2,000 riot victims there has not made them more dominating.”
He adds, “The declining law and order may cause people to migrate, and if so, it is the state government’s job to act. But criminality does not have a religion or a community. It is disgraceful for the NHRC to communalise this alleged law and order problem in Kairana by casually pointing the finger of blame at those who are themselves victims.”
NHRC spokesperson Jaimini Srivastava says the commission has already submitted its report and there is nothing to say as of now.