This is really a case of life dealing out far too many unfair blows to the same lot of people. Those who had to flee their homes during the Muzaffarnagar riots now face the double trauma of having to watch their children die of the cold in the makeshift refugee camps. So grave has the situation become that the Supreme Court had to step in and ask the state government to take steps to provide material and medical help to the people in these camps. Around 16,000 people are in the camps with little succour in sight. The Chief Justice of India lamented that they were freezing in the harsh winter while “we are inside the courtroom and feel warm.” Most of those in the camps are reluctant to go back to their homes fearing another outbreak of violence. Clearly, the state government has done little to allay these fears.
At one time, the ruling Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav was derisively called Maulana Mulayam by his detractors for espousing the Muslim cause. Secularism, he has always maintained, is an article of faith with the Samajwadi Party. Yet, his son’s government has been remarkably short on action in helping the Muslim riot victims. Around 50 children have already died in the camps and as winter tightens its icy grip, there are bound to be more fatalities. This is yet another failure of the state administration of Akhilesh Yadav. In the first place the state was unable to protect its citizens from communal violence. Now it is unable or unwilling to help them to merely survive in the camps. It is a mark of the cavalier attitude displayed by the state government that the apex court has asked it to provide some relief to those in the camps. This is the very least it should have done on its own.
The myth that the Samajwadi Party is the saviour of the minorities has now been shattered. So also has the myth that the young chief minister would transform the old and debilitating politics of the state. In fact, he has not only had to kowtow to his father’s associates, he has also not made a dent in the deteriorating law and order in the state. The apex court has done the right thing in seeking a report on the conditions in the camps from the state government. It will convene a hearing again on January 21. The violence has really been a test case for the state government. Unfortunately, both during the riots and its aftermath, the state has failed in a spectacular manner. The only hope the victims have now seems to be in the apex court forcing the Akhilesh Yadav government to lend a helping hand to them.