Muzaffarnagar riots: Politicians missing,officials in denial over relief camp deaths

Report by Shamli district administration claims ‘zero’ child deaths while angry parents mourn.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | Shamli,muzaffarnagar | Published: December 12, 2013 4:30:33 am

As political leaders stall Parliament over children’s deaths due to cold in the relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli,victims living in the camps say that few if any leaders of the parties now protesting have bothered visiting them to find out the conditions they are living in.

A report sent by the Shamli district administration to the state government on December 5,meanwhile,claimed “zero child deaths” in the camps,saying reports regarding this were “baseless allegations”.

The Indian Express had earlier met several parents who alleged their children had died from the cold,including 16 children in Malakpur,five in the madrasa camp in Suneti,one in Barnavi,two in Khurgan,one in Dabheri Khurd,two in Bipur camps in Shamli district and 11 in Loi in Muzaffarnagar district.

In a report forwarded to UP Home Secretary Kamal Saxena,accessed by The Indian Express,Shamli District Magistrate P K Singh said that according to assesments by the CMO of the district,who conducted visits of doctors in camps,“mrityu ki soochna shunya payi gayi (reporting of deaths was found to be zero)” and “no patient reporting any serious illness was found”,though 7,093 “displaced people” and 2,023 children had been treated at government health centres in camps.

The report also said that in 57 deliveries conducted at community health centres in the district,no deaths of mothers or newborns had been reported. “People in the camps have not informed us or got the deaths registered with proper death certificates. So,on government records,not a single death of infants from cold has been recorded,” says the report.

While not refuting that parents had not sought death certificates,a member of the committee running the Malakpur camp,Chaudhary Gulshad,said,“The government should come and see the graves that we have dug around the camps. Parents who have lost one child have to deal with protecting their other kids from cold,while trying to make a living. They don’t have time to go filling forms. Whenever government doctors have come here and asked us for reports,we have made them meet the parents.”

He added that camp organisers were putting together a list of deaths from 12 camps,to submit before the SDM of the area.

Kairana in Shamli district,where most of the relief camps are located,officially has around 3,000 people living in three camps (locals say the number is three times that figure,in around 12 camps). According to locals,Kairana MLA,the BJP’s Hukum Singh,who has been booked for inciting the riots,has not visited any of the relief camps. The area MP,the BSP’s Begum Tabassum Hasan,has never visited either,nor has son Naheed,who is in the SP.

A prominent BSP leader of the area,Hasan’s brother-in-law Kawar Hasan helped set up one of the area’s largest camps,in Malkpur,and funded most of the tents and amenities like the installation of toilets,but has not visited camps in Suneti,Barnawi and Bipur.

Shamli MLA Pankaj Malik of the Congress has not paid a visit,and neither has BSP MP from Muzaffarnagar Kadir Rana,who is also accused of inciting the riots.

While UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and uncle and state minister Shivpal Yadav did visit,they came to only camps in Shahpur and Kandhla,in September. Congress president Sonia Gandhi,vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also came calling that month,to camps in Basikala and Shahpur.

According to Nawab,a resident of Lakh village living in a camp in Bernawi in Shamli,“Political leaders came till Basikala and Kandhla,where people at least had roofs of madrasa buildings. We have been living in open fields under tarpaulin sheets. The dew is so much that the quilts get wet,rations have been stopped.”

Sajidi,a resident of Fugana who lost her 15-day-old newborn in the Loi camp in Muzaffarnagar,questions the ruckus in Parliament. “Netas can scream in the comfort of Delhi and think they are fooling people into giving them votes. We are suffering everyday in the cold and burying our children,but not even local leaders can spare the time to see us,” she said.

Some leaders who have visited the camps are the SP’s Abu Azmi,Congress leaders Buta Singh and Shakeel Saifi and the minority commission chairperson.

The Centre has now sent an NCPCR (National Commission for Protection of Child Rights) team to Shamli and Muzaffarnagar to investigate the deaths.

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