Muzaffarnagar district administration records claim incentives such as additional ration and counselling by lekhpals have prompted more than 15,000 of the 27,000-odd Muslim families displaced by the riots over a month ago to return home. This,however,may be a half-truth.
Several refugee camps may have been declared dismantled and their occupants returned home,but hundreds of people have moved out only to seek shelter in nearby areas,many trying to find new means of livelihood.
In some villages,jats claimed they were trying to bring back the Muslims. We met the camp organisers and asked them to help us bring them (Muslims) back. We do not want to continue the animosity, Devender Pradhan,head of Kutba village,said.
Government records suggest 470 of the over 2,800 families that sought refuge in the Joula camp between September 7 and 10 have returned. The state has stopped ration supply and the tent that made the camp on a hospital ground has been abandoned. But barely 100 metres away,150-odd families have taken shelter in the village bijli ghar.
Samaidduin,who moved to the bjili ghar last week,visited his village home once with police escort and returned with five buffaloes.I never said I was returning permanently,its impossible to go back to where we witnessed so much horror. But now that the state ration has stopped,the (camp) organisers are asking us to move out, the Lakh resident who used to till jat fields said.
In other areas,families have started renting homes around relief camps. Government records say all 1,013 families that sought shelter in the Chand Masjid camp in Budhana have returned.
But Kharad resident Munna (48),who lost his father Shahid in the riots,and his family of 12 are back in Budhana after collecting compensation. They are staying at the house of a relative and looking to buy their own.
I cannot return to the house (in Kharad) where they killed my father. I will use the (compensation) money to buy a house in Budhana, he said.
The administration claims 278 families have left the Jogi Kheda relief camp. Naseem of Fugana,whose wife has filed a gangrape complaint,and his family have moved out of the camp and into a house in Jogi Kheda. Naseem hopes to soon start paying rent to his hosts.
Organisers of relief camps from Muslim organisations said sustenance without state help was impossible. Since the displaced do not want to return,the organisers are advising them to find work around camps.
Imran,who owns a brick kiln,has granted refuge to about 50 families from Lakh and Lisar in his two houses in Joula. He said,Work in my kiln starts next month. I cannot throw them these people out. They say they worked in brick kilns in their villages,they will do the same here, he said.
Many who were in the largest Malakpur camp are trying to build houses in nearby villages. Saira Khatoon of Kutba,who lost three family members,has moved to Dabheri Khurd village.
The family of Chaudhary Munshad Ali Chauhan has decided to give half of its 200 bighas in the village to some of the displaced. There was shortage of mazdoors (labourers) in our village,these people will be a big help. They will be paid the market rate, he said.
Muzaffarnagar ADM Rajesh Srivastava said the government was sending lekhpals almost every day to tell the displaced that it was now safe to return home.