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Four years after Muzaffarnagar riots: Amnesty says UP govt yet to compensate 190 families

For many families that survived the riots and still live in resettlement camps, compensation has become a mirage.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2017 08:00 IST
M Tariq Khan
M Tariq Khan
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Muzaffarnagar riots,Compensation,Riot survivors
Children visiting their burnt house after Muzaffarnagar communal riots of 2013 in Uttar Pradesh that left over 60 people dead.(HT File Photo)

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has criticized the Uttar Pradesh government for not giving compensation to over 190 families displaced after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots even four years after the communal flare-up.

“Communal riot survivors (190 families) are yet to receive compensation and continue to stay in squalid conditions in resettlement camps,” Amnesty International’s Indian arm said in a 19-page report released on Friday.

Official records show that 1,800 families have been compensated. The Amnesty report alleged that inconsistent definition of a family was laid down by the authorities in an attempt to deny people compensation.

According to the report, many families were denied compensation because authorities claimed they were part of a larger joint family which had already received money. The state government defined ‘family’ as a group of people who live together and use a common kitchen. This constitutes one household.

Many families still live in temporary camps, with little access to water and electricity. (Photo: Amnesty International)

But even in cases where families were able to prove that they lived in separate households, the report claims that they did not receive any financial aid. This was in the form of separate kitchens or government identification documents such as ration cards that stated different addresses from their joint family members. Despite this evidence, the report says that they have been denied compensation from the state.

Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts of UP witnessed one of the worst Hindu-Muslim clashes in 2013. The violence was sparked by the killing of three men who had objected to the harassment of a young woman. Over 60 people were killed and more than 50,000 others were displaced in the mayhem that engulfed more than 250 villages. Hundreds of families were forced to flee their homes and live in relief camps.

Amnesty International’s Indian arm released a 19-page report on Friday on the situation in Muzaffarnagar. (Graphic courtesy: Amnesty International)

Four years later, many of these families still continue to live in temporary camps, with little access to water and electricity.

In October 2013, the state government declared that it will provide one-time compensation of five lakh to families from nine surrounding villages that were identified as the worst affected. Between August 2016 and April 2017, the rights group visited 12 resettlements and found that over 190 displaced families from the nine villages were yet to receive compensation. Among them were Imrana and Tahir Zahid, their children.

Amnesty report said they were threatened, attacked and forced to leave their home in Kakra village, and abandon every single possession they ever owned.

“Even if you can’t give us Rs 500,000, we urge the government to give us at least two or three lakhs,” the report cites Imrana as pleading.

“At least we can then build a house for us to live in. It’s very difficult to run a family of seven, Tahir is always outside trying to find work so that we can survive. My children are hungry most of the time,” she laments. According to Amnesty International India and AFKAR India Foundation, a Shamli-based NGO, there are 200 families in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli who share the same fate.

“These families live in re-settlement colonies where many have no access to electricity, drinking water and sanitation facilities. For four years, these families have been struggling to rebuild their lives,” Amnesty said.

Amnesty said the UP chief minister should ensure aid to families in resettlement colonies for their immediate needs, including housing, water, sanitation and health care. It has started an online petition on its official website.

In a similar report on rape survivors released in February this year, ahead of UP assembly elections, Amnesty had indicted the state government in the seven gang-rape cases. The report said there were no convictions and slammed the state government for delays in registration of FIR, inquiry and court proceedings. In all the seven gang-rape, cases the police took six to 14 months to file charges, and even after they did so, trials proceeded extremely slowly, according to the report.

First Published: Sep 08, 2017 23:48 IST