Weeks after they agreed to leave relief camps that had come up on state government land and also not return home in exchange for a compensation of Rs 5 lakh,at least 200 people displaced by the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli have bought land to build new homes.
They are among the 1,500-odd riot victims who entered into such deals with the government. And the plots they have bought are on a sprawling 100 bigha sugarcane field,just across the road from one of the largest camps of victims in Loi where they have been living since the violence in September.
Mehruddin,a resident of Fugana village,has bought four 122 gaj plots,one for each of his brothers at Rs 1 lakh each. The family of weavers has not found work since being displaced three months back.
We are scared to return to our village,there have been FIRs of rape,loot and murder registered against our neighbours there.God knows what they will do to us if we return. So as soon as the compensation money was electronically transferred to our accounts,we started enquiring about land nearby, he said.
Mohammad Younis,also from Fugana,who lost his seven-year-old son in the violence,has also bought four 122 gaj plots at Rs 1 lakh each.
People said the rate was at least Rs 3 lakh for 122 gaj,so we were getting it cheap. In any case,I have filed FIRs against my neighbours…so they would kill me if I return, Younis said.
Travelling far to any isolated place would also be scary…we have developed a community in the relief camp where we feel secure because we have the numbers here. But the state government wanted us to vacate. This seemed like the best option.
Mohammad Aqil,another Fugana resident,has bought two 122 gaj plots for the same price.
We got only Rs 5 lakh,so we could not afford to pack up and move very far. At the same time,winters are setting in,and it is getting unbearable staying in tents. When we realized this land was for sale,we felt there couldnt be a better deal. We would only have to cross the road to our new homes,and at the same time we would be fulfilling our word to the government, Aqil said.
With similar requests to sell his land coming in,Loi village pradhan Abdul Jabbar,
who owns a bit of land in the area,said he decided to sell parts of his cane fields.
My family has lived here for generations and we have quite a bit of land here. I consulted my family and together we agreed to sell 100 bigha of our land to these people at cheap rates, Jabbar said.
Jabbar said the price of Rs 1 lakh for a 122 gaj plot was less than half the market price.
Its only been three weeks since these people started receiving their compensation,and I have already sold 50 bighas to 190 people. A lot of others who have signed the affidavits and are awaiting their compensation,have given me written requests to purchase other plots, Jabbar said.
At Joula,about 6 km away,displaced villagers who were accommodated in houses of villagers after the government camp was dismantled two months back,are also buying plots.
About 20 people have bought land in our village. They have got some money from the government,so now they can afford it, said Abdul Jabbar Mohsin Khan,one of camp organisers,adding that many displaced people had started working in brick kilns owned by locals.
Muzaffarnagar ADM Indermani Tripathi said social bonding was prompting the displaced people to buy land near relief camps.
The only condition in the affidavit was that they leave government land. If people are purchasing land around the area where they feel secure,it can only be attributed to social bonding. We have not maintained records of how many people are settling around camps, he said.