On Friday, as western Uttar Pradesh recorded the biggest ever win for the BJP, the result and margins in areas hit by the communal riots in September in three constituencies — Muzaffarnagar, Kairana and Bijnore — were termed unprecedented by even the winning candidates, all of them accused in the riots.
By evening, as the margins of between two and 4.1 lakh started sinking in, celebrations depicted the polarisation the region has seen. As the victorious BJP candidates and their supporters hit the streets, visiting riot-hit villages where Muslims are still to return, areas where displaced Muslims have been living grew increasingly desolate, with shops shutting and streets virtually emptying.
The BJP won all three seats for the first time since 1998-99.
Despite the imposition of prohibitory orders, Muzaffarnagar BJP candidate Dr. Sanjiv Baliyan took out a grand victory procession to slogans of “jai shree Ram, and har har Modi”.
But he avoided areas where riot-affected Muslims have bought land or are living in temporary shelters.
“Our boy was an MLA earlier, he is now the MP, he will bring us justice…he will bring my son back from jail,” said Damyanti Devi, whose son is an accused in the riots.
In Kairana, the BJP’s Hukum Singh, who won by more than two lakh votes, said he would now “take special care to ensure justice for the 1,000-odd false riot cases that have been slapped on my voters”.
In a far cry from the jubilant mood, despondence gave way to fear as the final tallies were realised in Malakpur in Kairana constituency, where 10,000-odd riot victims live.
At Joula and Loi villages, where many displaced Muslim families have bought land, most TV sets were switched off by noon and people returned home.
“My wife got a new voter id card and went back to our village Fugana in a tractor just to vote, even though she was shivering all the while. She was so scared. She has been calling me to ask the results. We don’t have a TV yet. I don’t know what to tell her. How do I break the news that she can never return home?,” asked the husband of a woman who has filed a rape case.