SP salts victims’ wounds,says relief camp better than homehttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/sp-salts-victims-wounds-says-relief-camp-better-than-home/

SP salts victims’ wounds,says relief camp better than home

The committee has recommended that the camp,which has come up “forcibly on forest land”,should be closed.

A high-level committee of the Uttar Pradesh government has concluded that “additional facilities” that victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots are receiving in relief camps is “a reason for them to not go back to their homes”.

The panel has also concluded that some of these people,driven from their homes by the communal clashes that began in late August,have taken loans that they are reluctant to repay,and are hopeful of getting possession of the land that they are currently occupying.

The ‘Sadbhavna Committee’ headed by Shivpal Singh Yadav,Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle and minister for public works,revenue and irrigation,had visited Muzaffarnagar and Shamli on October 5 and 6,“surveyed” the riot-hit villages,and met with the families of victims and government officials “to understand the situation”.

“The committee has come to the conclusion that there are several reasons why people are not returning to their villages,” says the report. “The victims are fearful that if they go back to their villages,they may not be safe and secure there. Some victims have taken loan from local people and brick kiln owners and are scared that if they go back then they will have to return the money. The additional facilities that they are receiving in the relief camps is also a reason for them to not go back to their homes,” it says.

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According to the report, “the relief camp in Malakpur (Shamli) has come up on the forest land and the displaced people are told that they should keep the possession of the land because the government will give this land to the people who have the possession”.

The committee has recommended that the camp,which has come up “forcibly on forest land”,should be closed.

The report has alleged that “managers” of the relief camps have a vested interest in keeping them running. It has urged the government to take over the running of the camps.

“Most of the relief camps have been established in madrassas which are receiving a lot of funds not only from the government but also from other sources such as cash and other relief materials and therefore the relief camp managers do not want that these camps should close down so that the flow of funds continues,” the report says.

“The displaced persons are also fearful that if they go back to their villages,there will be pressure to compromise (on) the cases that they have filed with the police,” it says.

\The panel has recommended that the “relief camps should be established only in government buildings and only government officials should be responsible to run them”. Also,“all the information about outside help that is coming to the relief camps should be given to the district administration…”

Reached for a comment,several ministers who were part of the 10-member committee led by Shivpal Yadav either claimed to not remember the contents of the report,or denied it altogether.

Minister of State for Transport Mehboob Ali said,\”I am in my constituency and do not remember the details. It is also a secret document and its contents cannot be revealed. You should meet me personally on Monday.”

Minister of State for Labour and Employment \Shahid Manzoor switched off his phone on being asked about the report,and could not be reached thereafter.

Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies \Iqbal Mehmood claimed the report had been tampered with.

“I have the original report with me and it does not say anything adverse about the madrassas’ role in running relief camps… Jaalsaazi kiya gaya hai report mein. I have a copy and there is nothing of this sort in it,we have not written a single word about madrassas,” Mehmood said.

The minister did,however,confirm the statement about victims being reluctant to go back because of loans they had taken. “They are all poor people and have taken loans. They lost everything in the riots,and are apprehensive about repaying,” he said.

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The \relief camps,Mehmood said,were flush with resources. “Relief materials are coming from both government and elsewhere. Masha Allah bahut hai,” he said.