The UP government’s performance since the riots in Muzaffarnagar four months ago has left a lot to be desired.
The riots, which left 63 people dead and 50,000 displaced, had started with an incident of harassment leading to the killing of three persons in Kaval village of Muzaffarnagar on August 27.
And now, insensitive statements from all quarters, including the official machinery, have only rubbed salt into the wound.
The latest case in point is the use of the ‘Siberia’ analogy to deny the fact that children in refugee camps have died of cold.
Principal secretary (home) Anil Kumar Gupta said: "None of the children staying in the riot relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts died of cold but of pneumonia. Nobody can die of cold. If people died of cold nobody would have been alive in Siberia."
Though UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav slammed Gupta for the statement, the damage had been done.
Initially the officials denied the deaths altogether. Only after a Supreme Court rap was a fact-finding committee set up and it accepted that 34 children had died in the camps.
Earlier SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav had stirred up a hornet’s nest by claiming there were no riot victims in the relief camps but people sent by political rivals.
Soon after his statement the administration sent bulldozers to evict the riot victims and uproot the relief camps, notwithstanding the dipping temperatures.
Muslim organisations have threatened to launch an agitation against forcible eviction.
Gupta had said 4,783 riot victims were staying in five relief camps in Loi (Muzaffarnagar), Taimpur Shah, Mallakpur, Barnabi and Idgah (Shamli). However, countering Gupta’s claim, Rehana Adib, whose organisation Astitva is running relief work in the camps, said at present 20,000 riot victims were staying in the relief camps.
Private organisations and madarsas were running 10 relief camps in Shamli and eight in Muzaffarnagar, she said.
This is one side of the picture.
Though the police took into custody around 12 persons allegedly involved in the triple murders on August 27, sources said under political pressure some of the accused were released.
The then senior superintendent of police (SSP), Manjil Saini, who objected to the release, was transferred. The local Khap Chaudhary organisation opposed the release of the murder accused, leading to tension in the area.
The state government announced financial assistance of Rs. 5 lakh to displaced Muslim families. However, in turn the family members were told to give in writing that they would not return to their villages.
This too turned out to be messy decision because a Supreme Court bench of chief justice P Sathasivam and justice Ranjana P Desai and justice Ranjan Gogoi took serious exception to the notification. The court said relief and rehabilitation could not be denied on the grounds of religion. A red-faced state government issued fresh notification announcing compensation to all displaced families.