Presenting the fact-finding report, ANHAD demands for CBI probe into Muzaffarnagar riot.
By M. Reyaz,
New Delhi: “What we are seeing in Muzaffarnagar is a reflection of 2002 Gujarat, although in smaller proportion,” social activist Shabnam Hashmi said here on Tuesday, while releasing a fact-finding report on the Muzaffarnagar riots prepared under by ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy).
A team of 24 activists, journalists, lawyers and students visited several relief camps and villages in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Ghaziabad districts of Uttar Pradesh on September 22 – 23 September, 2013. The fact-finding team met hundreds of victims, scores of relief camp committee members; spoke to people in general on the dhabas and in mohallas, besides policemen on the roads, at various police stations.
Hashmi alleged that the riot was “well planned in advance” with the “connivance and manipulations of local administration.”
Speaking on the occasion Supreme Court lawyer Naushad Ahmad Khan, who originally hails from Muzaffarnagar district and was also part of the fact finding team alleged that although many FIRs have been registered, identifying the accused, even then there has been very few arrests in those cases.
Putting the figure of those displaced due to riots to approximate 70,000, although official figure is 40000, the fact-finding team also lamented on the poor conditions of the relief camps. They said that most camps do no even have basic amenities and ration.
The Fact Finding Report says, “There is a lot which the UP police and administration would like to hide and push under the carpet. Unfortunately truth cannot be buried for ever and it has started coming out despite all efforts by majority of the media, barring a few exceptions, to portray a very different version of the situation on the ground.”
Alleging that the riot was the outcome of “meticulous planning,” ANHAD report says, “In parts of Western Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand, Sangh Parivar has been active for quite some time. In fact it had increased its activities during the past two years. Very large gatherings, RSS camps and procession have been organised in this area during this period. Evidence shows that systematic effort to recruit unemployed youth, especially from Jat community and local goons were being made, successfully, by the various Sangh Parivar outfits. The heightened activity to recruit and communalise the mind could be traced back to 2010.”
Conditions in the camps:
Highlighting the plight of the victims in the camp, the report pointed out, “Tent and daris have been provided but the day we visited the camp it was raining heavily and the whole place was flooded with water as the tent is not water proof. All the victims were crowded in small dirty corridors. Due to the rain it was also chilly with no warm clothes or blankets, not even space for people to lie down or rest on the floor. Most of the women, children could barely find place to sit in the corridor.”
It was pointed out that about 200 women have delivered their babies in these relief camps, practically without any medical aid from the government. There have hence been reports of several women dying during labour or of infants’ death at birth.
Accusations of rape:
Advocate Naushad Khan referred to the testimonies of girls and women, some of whom have been sighted in the report, alleging rapes, at times gang rapes. Later Shabnam Hashmi told TCN that although she cannot say the exact number, but an estimate 100 girls and women were sexually assaulted.
Bias role of administration:
Questioning the dubious role of the local administration, the fact finding report, says, “The administration, the state intelligence either totally failed to see and assess the danger signals of the communalisation process which were going on and were visible for the past 8-9 months or connived with the Sangh to let the hatred spread.”
They have pointed out that the relief and ex gratia compensation has not been implemented by the administration and that almost no relief measures have been undertaken by the administration.
“People posted in local police stations is highly biased against Muslims and as a result the cases are not being lodged,” the report notes.
The fact finding report has demanded a CBI probe into the riots in Muzaffarnagar and surrounding districts, adding that those against whome FIRs have already been filed must be arrested immediately.
They have also sought proper relief and rehabilitation packages, besides immediate proper care and counseling of those in relief camps, with special focus on women.