CPI(ML) Team Visits Muzaffarnagar Relief Camps

 A CPI(ML) team led by the Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya visited relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts on 8 January 2014. The team also included Party Politburo members Swapan Mukherjee and Kavita Krishnan, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, and Vice-President of AIKM Prem Singh Gehlawat. The team was also accompanied by activists of the All India Students’ Association (AISA), Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) and the JNU Students’ Union President Akbar Chawdhary.

In a statement issued following the visit, the CPI(ML) General Secretary said, “The UP State Government of the Samajwadi Party that has completely abdicated from its responsibility to prevent communal violence, and to ensure relief, rehabilitation and justice for the survivors. So far, the Central government has remained a silent spectator to the shocking aftermath of the Muzaffarnagar violence. Under Article 355 of the Indian Constitution, the Centre has the power to intervene in such situations and instruct the state government to discharge its constitutionally mandated responsibility. But as on many previous occasions, the Centre has once again failed to intervene and guarantee relief, rehabilitation and justice for the riot victims of Muzaffarnagar. The Supreme Court had asked the State Government to ensure facilities in the relief camps; instead it is busy trying to close down the relief camps. This blatant violation of even the Supreme Court’s order is further ground for the Centre’s immediate intervention.”

The main observations of the team are:

The scope of the communal violence is far greater than what the Government of UP admits. The number of those missing since the violence erupted is at least double the number to which the UP Government admits, and the death toll is likely to more than a 100. Moreover, the violence affected not only Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts but also Baghpat district, and people from these three districts have fled due to communal violence and communal terror.

A large number of those displaced and rendered homeless by the communal violence are yet to be recognised as victims by the State Government. Even in the 9 villages identified by the Government as riot-affected, some 1500 ration-card holders who are currently displaced, are being denied compensation and recognition as riot victims. Moreover, residents of adjoining villages, who fled in terror as they saw armed mobs attack their neighbouring village, are also not being recognised as victims of communal violence, though their homes and property too were destroyed by the communal mobs. For instead, while Lisad village is recognised as riot-affected, the villagers who fled adjoining Hasanpur, that has the same Pradhan as Lisad, are not being recognised as bona fide victims of the riots! Those who have fled following communal violence in Baghpat too, are not being recognised as riot victims. To sum up, the victims of communal terror as well as communal violence, are equally deserving of compensation, relief and rehabilitation.

The residents of the camp are mostly labourers. Having lost their livelihood as well as their homes, they are destitute now. The riot-displaced people are understandably reluctant or afraid to return to their villages even as relief camps are being bulldozed and they are being re-evicted. Whatever land and other property they had in their villages are being systematically grabbed in what can only be described as a campaign of communal cleansing. Most shockingly, it is the state government which is endorsing this campaign with its seal of official approval. Riot survivors who have received compensation from the government have had to give written undertakings promising never to return to their villages or claim any compensation for the loss or damage of property suffered.

And now with police stories of attempted LeT recruitments from among Muzaffarnagar riot survivors claiming media attention, the agenda of relief and rehabilitation is getting further sidelined. The people in the riot camps were extremely angry and aggrieved at the leaking of such police stories, which they fear are further vitiating the communalised atmosphere in the region.