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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Muzaffarnagar riots: schoolgirls, the unfortunate and silent victims

Moushumi Das Gupta, Hindustan Times  Muzaffarnagar, September 20, 2013
First Published: 02:00 IST(20/9/2013) | Last Updated: 13:38 IST(3/12/2013)

Till about a month back, 16-year-old Madhu (name changed) studying in class 11 used to look forward to cycling to her school, located some eight kilometre away, every morning.

A student of the local Bharti Inter College in Kawal village, Madhu, a resident of Mallakpura is an eager learner and wants to pursue college — one of the first in her family — after finishing school.

But her dreams lie shattered today. Her cousin was among the two Jat boys who were killed by Muslims following an altercation after they tried to stop them from teasing Madhu.

The incident was the trigger for the communal violence that engulfed Muzaffarnagar and has since claimed over 45 lives and displaced about 40,000 people, mostly Muslims.

“I want to finish school. My classes have started but I do not feel safe anymore cycling to school. I have to pass the Muslim villages and my parents are afraid I might be targeted again,” she said on Thursday.

Madhu is not the only one who has stopped going to school. School going girls - are among the unfortunate victims of the riots.

A few kilometres from this Jat dominated village is Kankra village where Muslim riots victims have taken refuge. Living in the cramped tents are about 50 adolescent girls who have been forced to discontinue their study.

Living in the cramped tents inside this relief camp are about 50 adolescent girls who have been forced to discontinue their study. Nimmo, a resident of Kheri Patti village in Shamli is one of them. “I study in class ninth, next year are my boards. But now I don’t know what will happen. My parents are too afraid to return to the village.”
 
Naushad Khan, a labourer who fled his village in Shamli with his wife and two school going daughters have also take shelter in the Bassi Kalan relief camp. “My family’s safety is my first priority now. My house has been burnt. Amidst all this, do you think any sane minded man would send his daughter to school,” Khan retorts angrily.
 
The tragedy is that even the daughters of Hindu families living in Kankra village are feeling unsafe. “I don’t feel safe venturing out of my home, leave alone going to college,” said Jyoti Sharma, a final year political science student at the government degree college at Shapur.
 
On Thursday a team of officials led by National Commission for Women chairperson Mamta Sharma visited the relief camp and the Jat dominated villages to assess the condition of women and adolescent girls.


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