Muslims on verge of losing 4,000 acres of land in Muzaffarnagar

    Besides kin, houses and cattle, Muzaffarnagar Muslims may lose their farm lands as well.

    By Mohammed Anas,

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    New Delhi: Around 4,000 acres of land, 17 madarsa buildings, 4 mosques, thousands of houses, both thatched and concrete-built, and equal number of cattle have been left behind by victims of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli riots in their native villages when they escaped violence in September. Though it’s a rough estimate, but activists and Muslim outfits working on riot victims said that losses may be at a larger scale.

    Interestingly, to compensate these losses and making the victims never to return to their villages, the Uttar Pradesh government is distributing Rs 5 lakh per family among the selected 1800 families from nine villages. Some Meerut-based realtors evaluated 4,000 acres of victims’ land, which is largely farm land with ripe sugarcane yield, at Rs 600 cr.

    Around 40,000 were uprooted from 162 villages in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Baghpat. While most of Baghpat villagers have returned home, victims from other two districts are living in relief camps run mu Muslim organisations in various places, including the National Capital Region.

    Some Meerut-based realtors evaluated 4,000 acres of victims’ land, which is largely farm land with ripe sugarcane yield, at Rs 600 cr.

    As per the Government Order of 27 October issued by the UP government, Rs 90 cr were to be given to 1800 displaced families of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts. But, when this order was implemented last week, the district administrations forced victims to sign affidavit which says that “families that receive ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh will not return to their native villages and claim for losses to their properties.” The district administrations of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli confirmed to The Sunday Guardian that around 1260 families have signed the said affidavit and received Rs 5 lakh each.

    “Since the major violence (killing included) took place only in nine villages and villagers from other areas fled in fear, a list of 1800 families from these nine villages have been prepared for the compensation to be paid,” said a senior district administration from Muzaffarnagar. He didn’t elaborate why victims were being forced to forego their right to return.

    A UP government spokesperson said that since victims have showed apprehension to return to their native villages, they are being enlisted for rehabilitation elsewhere they are being helped to restart their life elsewhere. Even he didn’t elaborate on why affidavits were made obligatory to get the compensation.

    Muslim outfits working for the rehabilitation of victims said that the distribution of compensation is only a facade to conceal the acute mismanagement of riots and victim’s rehabilitation. “The government has failed to even check violence being perpetrated on victims living in relief camps. The administration is not all interested to carry investigation into the FIRs lodged by the victims. Accused can be seen roaming freely in the villages. And now through these paltry compensations, the government is making sure that victims are uprooted from their lands permanently and their properties will be occupied by their agents,” said Advocate Asad Hayat, secretary of Awami Council.

    Some of the victims who have left behind their properties behind spoke to this correspondent over phone. Shamshad, a victim from Kharad village, had met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when they had visited riot victims. He said that despite promise of support, they have not got anything so far. “Even our camps are being run by well wishers from our own community. There is not even security arrangement to defend us. We keep vigil at night to safeguard our women and children. My family’s 250 bigha land is left behind in Kharad village and I fear that even our crop will be cut by our neighbours who had attacked our houses on 8 September. Despite repeated pleas to the district administration, nothis has been done,” said Shamshad.

    Jamiate Ulema Hind, which has the largest network of seminaries and cadres in the area and which is the most active Muslim outfit to rehabilitate the riot victims, is also worried at the prospects of huge property losses to displaced Muslims. “Not only people have been uprooted, our graveyards, mosques and madarsas are on the verge of being taken over by Jats. Many of the houses have already been merged into their own by Jats in villages like Kutba and Lac. But, we hope the district administration will take strict note of it,” said Hakeemuddin, a Jamiat member in Muzaffarnagar.

    Meanwhile, Jamaate Islami outfit, which has adopted around 1,000 riot victim families and is building homes for them, plans to go to court to challenge the UP government if it forces victims to forego their rights over their properties.

    “First we are meeting people like Ajit Chaudhary of Rashtriya Lok Dal(RLD) and Rakesh Tikait of Bhartiya Kisan Union to end bitterness among Hindus and Muslims of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. But, if the UP government helps criminals and local mafia to take over victims’ properties in any way, we will fight it in court,” said Mohammed Ahmed, secretary of the Jamaat.

    Leaders of ruling Samajwadi Party like Ram Gopal Yadav, Azam Khan and Iqbal Mahmood refused to comment on Muzaffarnagar issue. But, a close aide of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, told this correspondent that netaji (as Mulayam is fondly called) has decided to annul the clause in the affidavit which bars riot victims to return to their properties in their villages.

    Later on Thursday, after the Supreme Court lambasted the UP government for “Muslims only” rehabilitation of riot victims, it announced to include even Hindu victims as worthy of Rs 5 lakh compensation.

    (The article first appeared in The Sunday Guardian)