Kawaal village saw the spark that led to the fire. But since the original killings of three youths on August 27,which subsequently led to violence across Muzaffarnagar,Kawaal has seen none of it. If people elsewhere began leaving their villages beginning September 7,half of Kawaal had left a fortnight earlier.
On August 27,a fight in Kawaal left three youths dead,one a Muslim and the other two from Matiapur village 3 km away. Around 2 in the afternoon,an hour after the fight had taken place,I was told that my 18-year-old son Gaurav and his cousin Sachin had been killed, says Bhisham Singh of Matiapur. When I rushed there from my home,I was told that my son had been killed by Shahnawaz and other Muslims of the village. My son was brave; he fought back and killed Shahnawaz too.
Shahnawaz harassed a relative of ours when Gaurav was with her on August 26, says Saheb Singh,Sachins father. This led to an argument and Gaurav asked his father to drop him to school,which is on the main road,because he was afraid something like this would happen. When he was returning,the two were waylaid at Kawaal by Shahnawaz and other Muslims. They attacked our sons with a rock,and knifed them. But Gaurav snatched the knife and stabbed Shahnawaz too.
Of the 1,600 Muslims who lived in Kawaal,only a hundred remain now,say villagers. They all left before the start of September for fear of retaliation from the Jat community,as well as of being arrested, says Ram Niwas of Kawaal.
What has helped keep Kawaal and Matiapur out of the violence is the fact that the PAC was sent there within hours. We have been here since the evening of August 27. The families of Gaurav and Sachin themselves are afraid of being attacked. But no communal clash has occurred here at all, says a PAC officer.
Villagers of Matiapur and Kawal are baffled by the violence elsewhere. We have not told anyone to take revenge for us. When officers last week asked us to appeal for peace,we did, says Bhisham Singh. We are afraid of the being attacked ourselves. All this has nothing to do with us. All I want is that my son’s killers be brought to justice. Apart from that,we are indebted to the police from giving our village security.