Three months after the riots in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts,the sale of properties has begun. In what appears to be the first sale,according to records available with the tehsil offices and pradhans of the six riot-hit villages,a
Muslim family of three brothers sold their ancestral property to their Jat neighbours in Lakh village in Shamli district,on December 6.
Officials said the districts are yet to be notified as distress areas,where the administration has to be informed about the sale of property. I know we can never come back here after what we have seen… our whole community has been pushed out of here,there is no question of returning… but it feels odd to know that my children will not grow up in my ancestral home,and my grandchildren will never even know this home existed, said Nawab,one of the brothers who returned home to pack their belongings Wednesday.
His family is among the 680 riot-affected families from Shamli district who signed a government affidavit forfeiting their right to return to their villages in return for a government compensation of Rs 5 lakh.
Picking some bricks from the boundary wall of what used to be his home,Nawab said,I want to go back with some bricks… if and when I build a new home,I will use them. Nawab and his brothers,Shauqeen and Shabbir,sold their property of 580 square metres to their neighbours,Iqbal Singh and his brothers,Kreta and Ranbir,for Rs 15 lakh.
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After leaving home during the riots,Nawabs 17-member family sought relief in a camp in Joula,in Muzaffarnagar district. After the government camp was dismantled, we moved to the house of a brick kiln owner in Joula. About 10 families are staying there, he said.
While he and his brothers worked as carpenters in Lakh village,Nawab plans to restart his business in Joula,where he wants to purchase land to build a new home. I can work at my hosts kiln till my business takes off, he said.
I feel sad Nawab is leaving,I have known him since childhood… we tried to protect the family during the riots. We have to be practical now. I know many families want to sell their homes,and there are too many buyers here, said Iqbal Singh,adding he barely managed to pay the prevalent rate of Rs 2 lakh per biswa.
There are about 700 named and 800 unnamed FIRs registered against members of the Jat community in Lakh village by Muslims who used to live in the area.
This is the first family in the area to sell their property,I am sure more will follow. They have registered false cases to claim government compensation,and are now scared to return here, said Suresh alias Billu,Lakh village pradhan,named in 10 FIRs for looting and burning down houses.
When contacted,Shamli District Magistrate P K Singh said,Property sale is a private matter,the area is yet to be notified as distress land. If notified as distress land,property sales have to be regulated by the government.
Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said,We only saw riots for two days,and since then the situation has been calm. There is no mass sale of properties yet,so there has been no reason to notify the area as a distress area. Property sales remains a private matter.
But NGOs working in the area termed it as a disturbing trend. The state has brought in the bizarre policy of making people sign affidavits saying they will not return home in order to get compensation. If they do not monitor property sales,it will lead to mass property sale,and Muslims and Jats will form ghettos. People are losing their livelihoods and are being forced into labour, said Rehana Adib of NGO Astitva.