Meerut Blaze Victims Forced to Live by Roadside; No Relief from Govt

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On 5 March, more than 200 houses of Muslims, mostly daily wage workers, were burnt down

Fact-finding team discovers that the victims of the Meerut houses burning are being discriminated by the officials and are being denied of government relief

Waquar Hasan| Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI – The UP government failed to come forward and provide relief to 200 families who were made homeless when their shanties were set ablaze in Meerut. According to a fact-finding team, which visited the victims, witnessed them living on the roadside with their relatives as no relief had been provided by the government to them.

“If such an incident happens, then the victim is given instant compensation usually. Here not a single government official visited the victims after having them evict the area. Getting compensation seems far-fetched. A serious injustice has been done to them,” said Sandeep Pandey of Lok Rajniti Manch, while talking to Caravan Daily.

Pandey, a prominent social activist, was part of the fact-finding team which visited the victims. During his visit, he found the government to be discriminating against the victims on communal grounds.

“If they were not Muslims, then mainstream political parties would have visited them. The government would have set up relief camps. The discrimination is clearly visible. The administration generally bulldozes the jhuggi-jhopdi of the poor. They don’t communally discriminate against them over the demolition of their houses. But communal discrimination is being done while providing relief service. This discrimination was palpable in Gujarat and Muzaffarpur. The government does not provide relief if they are Muslims.”

Shabbir Husain Dar, who was also part of the fact-finding team, told the Caravan Daily that the victims are living along the roadside or with their relatives in the absence of government relief. There is some relief from local Muslim politicians who visited them.

On 5 March, more than 200 houses of Muslims, mostly daily wage workers, were burnt down allegedly by the personnel of Cantonment Board along with the local police evacuating them the land. The Cantonment Board was regaining their claim over the land allegedly encroached by Muslims. But some of the settlers even claimed to have bought the land from them and wouldn’t abandon it at any cost. However, they claimed that their documents had been destroyed in the fire.

“This is absolutely unfair. The first mistake they have made that they allowed those people to build their houses on the land by taking money. If that is the government’s land, then it is illegal that they allowed people to buy that land and build their houses. And if the government wanted to remove them then they needed to rehabilitate them somewhere. It is absolutely wrong and government’s coercion,” said Pandey.

The incident took place at Meerut’s Bhusa Mandi area. The houses were burnt down when a clash broke out between the locals and the police team. In connection with the incident, the police arrested five accused including a member of the BJP’s minority wing, Shahid Bharati in Meerut. He has been accused of leading the mob against the slum dwellers. The accused were booked under section 307, 436, 147, 148, 149, 426, 303, 504, 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

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