Leading campaigners and PM aspirants of India’s main ruling class formations have shamefully sought to stigmatise Muzaffarnagar’s riot-affected in a highly callous and shameful game of competitive communalism.
Addressing a rally recently, Congress’ leading campaigner Rahul Gandhi made the claim that Muzaffarnagar’s riot victims have been contacted by Pakistan’s ISI. It is difficult to imagine a more insensitive, factually unfounded, and insulting remark for the riot-affected, who are yet unable to leave the refugee camps, and are too terrorised to return to their villages.
Rahul’s apologists say that his was not a communal remark – it was merely a clumsy but well-meant attempt to underline that the BJP, by engineering riots, creates a fertile ground for terrorism to breed. But this excuse does not hold water. Because painting riot victims as potential terrorists who are in touch with the ISI can be nothing but crude communal stereotyping.
For one thing, neither the UP Government nor the Home Ministry have admitted any intelligence inputs to back Rahul Gandhi’s claim. For him to suggest that the refugee camps are targets for ISI recruitment is actually to reinforce the communal stereotype that will stigmatise the people who, destitute and homeless, are trying to rebuild their lives after the communal violence.
Besides, the plight of the riot-refugees in the UP camps, vulnerable to hunger, homelessness and epidemics, is equally an indictment of the sheer apathy and neglect of the State and Central governments. After all, what stopped these Governments from acting to prevent the communal pogrom? And what stops them today from ensuring adequate relief, full compensation and timely rehabilitation for the riot-affected? The riot-affected lost their homes, their means of survival and loved ones. What have the Governments at the state and Centre done – ruled by the Samajwadi Party and Congress-UPA respectively – to ensure that those affected can return to a stable and secure life?
The UP Government has mocked the riot survivors with a report of its high-level committee claiming that “additional facilities” that victims of the riots are receiving in relief camps is “a reason for them to not go back to their homes”.