Kanpur-based author and political analyst AK Verma believes that the narrow political ambitions of the Samajwadi Party leaders will not go unnoticed. “The people are watching, and this is the cause of the frustration in the Samajwadi Party,” he says. “The Muzaffarnagar riots was a glaring case of bad governance and failure of law and order. The state government allowed it to happen so as to serve the narrow political ends of the Samajwadi Party, but the plan backfired. Even now, they are only resorting to knee-jerk reactions. See how they suddenly decided to close down the relief camps to escape the intense media and public scrutiny over the inhuman living conditions there.”
Clearly, the Akhilesh Yadav government is yet to learn any lessons from its gross mishandling of the Muzaffarnagar communal riots and its aftermath. While it commits one blunder after another, its the hapless riot victims who are paying the price. It will be a miracle, however, if the Samajwadi Party manages to emerge unscathed from the unholy mess it has helped to create by its acts of omission and commission.
‘Officials put pressure on us to leave the camp’
Alibaaz | 50 | Lisarh Village
Alibaaz and his wife Haseena are huddled inside a tent at Malakpur village in Shamli district as the temperature touches freezing point around midnight on 8 January. Alibaaz’s father Naseeruddin was reportedly killed during the riots in Lisarh village. However, they have got no compensation as his body could not be found.
They have been marked ineligible for the rehabilitation package of Rs 5 lakh as they were staying at Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh for work. “Our house was burnt down. What if we were not living there? Does that make us ineligible for compensation?” asks Alibaaz.
The officials, they allege, have been selective while distributing compensation packages to riot victims. Alibaaz’s brother, who lived in the same village, has received compensation. “They say that because we belong to the same family, we are not entitled to anything more,” says Haseena.
At Lisarh, all the Muslim houses have been burnt down. “They want us to go back. But how can we?” she asks. “Officials come almost every day and put pressure on us to leave. Those who got compensation money have bought plots elsewhere, but we have to stay here in the freezing cold.”
In the night, they sit near the fire to escape the cold. They have taken up odd jobs at nearby markets and brick kilns to sustain themselves until the time they find a way to impress the officials so that they sanction some compensation for them.
With inputs from Virendra Nath Bhatt