Three weeks after clashes,new births offer fresh hope

Sehrana gave birth to her first child on Friday,on the same charpoy that she and her husband have been using.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | Muzaffarnagar | Published:September 29, 2013 2:09 am

In the three weeks since the communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar,three of the biggest relief camps — in Kandhla,Basikala and Malakpur — have seen the birth of about 27 babies in all,and at least half that number are expected to be born in the next week or so.

Sehrana,19,is one of the many new mothers. She gave birth to her first child on Friday,on the same charpoy that she and her husband have been using. Her home is a tarpaulin sheet,her only privacy,in a huge field in Malakpur,where about 10,000 people from about 40 villages have congregated. There is no electricity,not even a light bulb.

Sehrana is too weak to bother about worries expressed by “neighbours” that her daughter looks weak,or doesn’t cry enough. Routine immunisation or birth registration are the last things on her mind. “What do I do with this? Won’t my husband say she was the one who brought all this bad luck on us? In the hurry to run,I forgot I still had her…otherwise I may have tried to kill her myself,” she cries.

Her husband,a daily wage labourer in Shamli,does not comfort her as he stands guard at the entrance of their tarpaulin shelter. He has asked the village pradhan to arrange for some milk for his wife. “If she had told me in time,I may have tried to take her to a hospital. But I was informed only after 9 pm,and all I could do was find a woman in the camp who agreed to help her. She wanted Rs 600,but when she heard Sehrana screaming,she helped her,although we didn’t even have Rs 10 to give her,” he says.

About seven-eight babies are reported to have been born at the camp,three within the first two days of the violence. District authorities in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar,where these camps are housed,say there are no “official records”.

“There should be some record of these babies… they are the aftermath of the riot… a sign that there is hope still,” says Hajid Idris,an organiser of the Basikala camp. The mothers and infants have to sleep on the floor. Although a government health camp has been set up,all five babies were born in a private clinic. “We don’t trust the government… they didn’t bother about me when I was running for my life carrying this baby inside me,” says Parmeen,a resident of Kutba-Kutbi. Three other babies have been born at the camp,and three more women are in labour.

At the Idgah camp in Kandhla,home to about 2,500-3,000 people,organisers say about 15 women have given birth so far. All the babies were born at the heath centre.

In a single room at the camp,two new mothers from two villages — Shameena from Kuwana and Nafisa from Nala — exchange notes as they nurse their newborns. “If you have a baby,they give you a charpoy. Otherwise,you have to sleep on the floor. I hated the child at first… but now I am happy,” says Nafisa.

In the next room,there are three more women waiting for charpoys — Rakshana,Sajida and Shamshida. They are due to deliver their babies any time now.

Joula camp has seen 30 new births,of which three babies have died so far. Abdul Jabbar,an organiser of the camp,says,“There is almost one delivery every day. We are trying to provide proper facilities to these women.”

Meanwhile,SDM Kairana Shailendra Kumar says: “We have started the immunisation process of these babies. We are trying to gather a proper database.”

UP govt transfers SSP

Lucknow: UP government Saturday transferred Muzaffarnagar SSP Praveen Kumar,days after he had recommended that the investigation into the killing of three people,which triggered the communal violence,be handed over to the CBI or UP’s CID (Crime Branch). ENS

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