Efforts to revive communal harmony in the riot-hit Muzaffarnagar district got a jolt when members of a community opposed the rehabilitation in their neighbourhood of some of the families who had taken refuge in a relief camp.
Inhabitants of Palda and a few other villages of Budhana area are averse to rehabilitating the minority community families currently staying at Basikalan relief camp on the outskirts of their village.
The villagers conveyed their opposition to the inspector general of police Ashutosh Pandey and district magistrate Kaushalraj.
“If you settle these people near the place from which they fled because of atrocities, it will become a spot of hatred for both communities,” said Rajeev Saini of village Palda, who has been leading the opposition.
Communal clashes lasting several days left more than 60 people dead and thousands of others, mostly Muslims, displaced from their villages in Muzaffarnagar district in October.
Basikalan hosts one such relief camp where Muslim families fleeing the wrath of rioters took refuge. A committee formed to look after refugees initially persuaded the families to return to their native places, but many of them refused.
To rehabilitate such families, the committee had decided to purchase land near Palda.
“The land was divided into 100-yard plots to accommodate the 80 families of the relief camps and offered to riot victims at no- profit-no-loss basis,” said Haji Mursaleen, a member of the camp committee.
Initially the committee had decided to bear half the cost of each plot and Jamiat Ulema–e-Hind (Arshad Madni) offered to construct one-room houses for each family. But both offers were withdrawn later.
“Now the families have to buy the land and also construct houses,” said Mursaleen terming the protest of a handful of people against rehabilitation “illegal, unethical and baseless”.
“How one could stop us from making home on a legally purchased land? It is our constitutional right,” he said.
Pandey admitted that Palda villagers raised the issue during his Muzaffarnagar visit and he advised them to resolve the issue amicably.