Seeking safety in numbers, riot victims re-draw map of districts, build new colonies

Some areas are being christened by new inhabitants, with most still not recognised by the administration.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | Muzaffarnagar | Updated: August 25, 2014 9:45 am
Houses don’t have electricity or water. (Source: Express photo by Oinam Anand) Houses don’t have electricity or water. (Source: Express photo by Oinam Anand)

A year after the Muzaffarnagar-Shamli riots, with political visits dwindling after the Lok Sabha elections and no success in efforts to rehabilitate riot victims back to their home villages, there has been a slow and steady change in the maps of the two districts. Muslim riot victims have purchased land around villages with a significant Muslim population, finding security in their numbers.

These areas are being christened by their new inhabitants, with most still not recognised by the administration, and no water, electricity or basic sanitation measures yet — identified officially only by the neighbouring villages.

About five kilometres from what used to be the Idgah relief camp of Kandhla after the riots, three of the six women who filed FIRs alleging gangrape are among the 100-odd families who have bought plots of land, 100-200 gaj in size, from the Rs 5 lakh compensation they received from the state government. This includes 30 families from Fugana village, where the highest number of riot-related FIRs were filed, and others from Lakh, Lisadh, Bawdi and Hasanpur. The land was purchased from two Pathan families, traditional land owners in the village.

Children studying at newly established Ahmednagar near Shahpur. (Source: Express photo by Oinam Anand) Children studying at newly established Ahmednagar near Shahpur. (Source: Express photo by Oinam Anand)

A 28-year-old rape complainant, who was pregnant when she was allegedly raped, nurses her newborn under the open sky, on a plot filled with bricks. Her family invested all its money on the land, and till her labourer husband saves enough, they cannot start building their home. “This is about 30 kilometres from our village where the accused are still at large. We were afraid all the time at the relief camps… we were often threatened by their relatives. Everyone at the relief camp knew about my case, there were so many questions… how long can you live like that under a shelter… we had to move on and get a place to make our home again,” she says.

But moving on is not easy. The 100 houses have just one hand pump, installed only last week. So there are fights over potable water, and already many children are falling ill with diarrhoea and fever. There is no electricity, drainage or toilets. “There are no fields here that we can use to relieve ourselves. We have to walk at least three kilometres through the city to reach the fields… toilets are a big problem,” says another rape complainant.

Kadamdin with his grandson in front of the newly built houses of his sons in Ahmednagar. He is staying in the tent (left), as his yougest son's house is under construction. He will be staying with his youngest son. (Source: Express photo by Oinam Anand) Kadamdin with his grandson in front of the newly built houses of his sons in Ahmednagar. He is staying in the tent (left), as his yougest son’s house is under construction. He will be staying with his youngest son. (Source: Express photo by Oinam Anand)

The access road, from Gangheru road in Kandhla, is a waterlogged bylane. The residents have chosen “Aman Colony” as the name of their new home, in the hope of the peace they now seek.

Ahmednagar is another such emerging colony, surrounded by a triangle of Muslim-majority villages — Paldhi, Paldha and Basi Kalan — where 150-odd people from the two riot-hit villages of Kutba and Kutbi have already built homes. About four kilometres from Kutba, the settlement does not have a pradhan or a representative yet. The name was coined by an Imam of the adjoining Basi Kalan madrasa, who also designated a tin shed as the village masjid.

On paper, these families live in Paldhi village. The intezamia committee of the Basi Kalan madrasa, which operated as a relief camp immediately after the riots, had bought land from local Muslims to distribute among the riot victims. But after the state government announced compensation, the land was sold to them.

Zahoor Hassan, a government school teacher who stays here, says, “Land was purchased in bulk in two lots from the intezamia committee — nine bighas and three bighas, which was divided between families. The plots near the road were bought at Rs 3,000-4,000 per gaj, while the inner plots were bought at Rs 1,500-2,000 per gaj.”

Again, there is no water supply, but two hand pumps have been installed. There are no arrangements for electricity yet. With many families still living under tarpaulin sheets on their plots, security is a big concern.

Hashida, 38, sent away her 14-year-old daughter Rahil to her uncle’s place in Kairana, after a few boys in the colony “disturbed her”. “I have three daughters and two sons. I have been making the two younger girls cut their hair like boys… We had a refrigerator, a washing machine and a toilet at our house in Kutba, now I don’t even have a gate outside the house,” she says.

The residents recently negotiated the price for a bigha of land, to be developed as a graveyard for their new village, at Rs 6 lakh. Qadamdin, whose wife was one of the eight victims of the riots from the villages, says, “The circle rates vary between Rs 1,200-1,400 per gaj, but everywhere we go, Muslim land owners are charging us more. It is a simple equation of demand and supply. We want to stay near our brethren after what we have seen in the riots, so we have to pay what they want… we need land for a graveyard, the cycle of life has to go on.”

On the road from Budhana city to Shamli, at least four such colonies have come up: Ihmadadnagar, near Joula, where 50 families are staying; a colony of 150 dwellers in Loi village that is yet to be named; another of 200 people in Shahpur; and a settlement of 35 families. In Shamli, 30 families have settled down in Dabheri Khurd village.

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  1. Z
    Zainul Allahbadi
    Aug 26, 2014 at 1:35 am
    The ones that are getting the most compensation are the Hindus who have seized ther old expensive homes and property. These are revolting reader comments, anger is growing amongst India's 180 million Muslims. This bodes ill for India's future, from such hatred came ISIS.
    Reply
    1. A
      Ayesha Mirza
      Aug 26, 2014 at 11:10 am
      You are product of Hindu analogue of stan where only hatred is taught. People like you know only insult and attack other religions. I am sure you were not born to a human, rather a dog or pig that is why you are talking against humanity. This type of comments only make us feel insecure and some of our brother may even approach fundamentalists too which will kill innocent people. I am not saying they are right but they always feel insecure. Even if you listen some of the incidents I faced personally you will be stunned.
      Reply
      1. F
        Farooq Khan
        Aug 25, 2014 at 9:20 pm
        Govt (guided by upper caste Hindu Babus) has been encouraging Ghettos in every city for the last 77 years. This is done in order to decline the rights to the Indian Muslims. In every city there are Ghettos of Muslims with almost no infrastructure, roads , electricity , water and Schools. This in turn breeds crime, targeted riots by Hindu Fundamentalist and illiteracy resulting in denial of jobs which in turn goes to Hindu upper caste. All these factors leads to Muslims being labelled as terrorist/stani, which i turn leads to majority Vote bank politics and denial of Jobs/rented homes to Muslims for starting a vicious circle in which a certain section wants Muslims to remain trapped forever.
        Reply
        1. F
          Farooq Khan
          Aug 25, 2014 at 9:05 pm
          You are the kind of animal who will make many country's out of India by your sick thinking and this kind of thinking must be controlled. You have already made India as a clone of stan i.e Hindu stan by supporting m murderers and rapists. Measuring your intelligence by your comment, you seem to be a result of Incest not anyone else.
          Reply
          1. V
            Vinu Koratty
            Aug 25, 2014 at 2:40 am
            More Chota stans in the making..breeding ground for terrorists...cradle for future Love Jihadis ..... playground for bestiality and Incest ...It needs to be destro..
            Reply
            1. V
              Vinu Koratty
              Aug 26, 2014 at 10:44 am
              Shock me, say something intelligent.
              Reply
              1. V
                Vinu Koratty
                Aug 29, 2014 at 3:49 pm
                You are so stupid, you'd trip over a cordless phone.
                Reply
                1. P
                  Preeti
                  Aug 28, 2014 at 9:42 am
                  Dear All, please don't feed trolls like this guy. Ignoring trolls is best. Insensitivity is their trademark. What more do you expect?
                  Reply
                  1. C
                    Cynic
                    Aug 29, 2014 at 12:54 pm
                    Please give this constant victimization excuse a rest. You want to improve, start helping yourself and extend a hand to your own community instead of sitting there and expecting the government to do everything for you. Almost the entire middle cl we see today has come up on their own. Cutting down on the number of children and pushing them through with education, regardless of what community they are from. Yes, muslims included. It is your own actions that is resulting in your community being labelled terrorists. Members of your community are doing this across the world, not just in India. Keep your religion at home and learn to speak out when members of your community indulge in terrorism. I am not sure which riot you are referring to but Gujarat started with the burning of the train by members of your community (as per the court verdict) and the Muzaffarnagar was a law and order issue gone berserk.
                    Reply
                    1. C
                      Cynic
                      Aug 25, 2014 at 1:16 am
                      This type of ghetto formation must be discouraged. See how Singapore has managed it so successfully
                      Reply
                      1. E
                        enayat
                        Aug 25, 2014 at 3:43 am
                        there will be a head for an eye
                        Reply
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