A tale of two villages — bound by fear,suspicionhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/a-tale-of-two-villages-bound-by-fear-suspicion/

A tale of two villages — bound by fear,suspicion

The people fear they will be ambushed and attacked by men in black clothes with guns.

The winter sun in Muzaffarnagar usually holds promise. It tells farmers that harvest season is upon them. This winter,they serve another purpose though — a warning. For the violence-hit villages of Hussainpur Kalan and Mohammadpura Raisingh,the morning sun brings with it fear — and a curfew of sorts.

Three days after fresh violence erupted again in Muzaffarnagar with the death of three Muslim youths,residents of Mohammadpura Raisingh,inhabited now only by Jats,refrain from venturing out to their fields which are now in the area of the Muslims,at Hussainpur Kalan.

“The land is ours but the area is theirs now. We have instructed all our residents to not venture out to Hussainpur Kalan after 9 am,” says Omkar,pradhan of Mohammadpura Raisingh. He owns about 10 bighas of land in Hussainpur Kalan.

Two and a half kilometres of a road separate the two villages torn apart after the violence on Wednesday. The road is the only stretch of connectivity between the two villages,now out of bounds for both sides for fear that they would be ambushed.

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Seven persons have been arrested after Wednesday’s violence with the police still trying to piece together both sides of a story that is yet to reach its conclusion. While the Jats claimed that one Rajinder Fauzi,a retired armyman was attacked by 10 men including Muslims and the PAC,the Muslims alleged that their men were brutally attacked and killed.

The people fear they will be ambushed and attacked by “men in black clothes with guns” if they tread down the now “forbidden” road to Hussainpur Kalan.

“Yesterday me and my five grandsons and our servant left on our bullockcart to fetch our harvest,” says 65-year-old Kiranpal,a village elder in Mohammadpura Raisingh. Kiranpal has 70 bighas of land which till two months ago was waiting to be harvested.

“Who knew this would happen? We went to Hussainpur Kalan around 9.30 am and upon reaching I sent my servant to fetch the harvest. Suddenly,we heard a gun shot and the next thing I saw was my servant running out of the area screaming we should leave. How will we complete our harvest?”

Kiranpal claimed they did not register a case out of fear.

The harvest is not the only problem. Ahead of Hussainpur Kalan lies the town of Budhana,where most of the ration and other basic supplies are available and which till two months ago,was a town both communities frequented.

“Our banks and accounts and other shops are in Budhana. But we have to pass through Hussainpur Kalan to get there. Now we have found other routes to reach there.”

But Kiranpal won’t reveal the alternate routes. “If they find out,they won’t let go of us,” he says.

Denying these allegations,Shahnawaz,pradhan of Hussainpur Kalan,says,“These are misleading allegations. We don’t want any violence. Our men have been killed. We don’t want more deaths. So many of our community men who lived in Mohammadpur have fled,leaving behind their 40 years of existence there. Why would we facilitate more bloodshed?”

SP (rural) Alok Priyadarshi,says,“There is extra deployment along the road between the two villages. Residents are secure now and can easily tread along that path and go to their fields.”