Read Part 1.
Interviews with the surviving victims of the riots
After the riots in Western UP, our team visited Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, and Bagpat districts. In these districts, our team travelled to various villages such as Madi (Bhitwada Tiwati jurisdiction), Kakda (Shahpur Tehsil), Kwaal, Sorum, Bassikalan, Baseda (Jansat Tehsil), Gadla, Nirgajni, Tevda, Baheda, Dulhera, Kutba, Kutbi, Hadoli Savtu, Dhindavli, Rahmatpur (Bhopa Tehsil), Tejlaheda, Baseda, Kakrala, Chachrauli, Jauli, and Malikpura among others.
Our team met close to 200 people in 20 villages. These are people who have suffered a personal loss in the riots. The following is a list of testimonies from the various people we interviewed in these villages whose lives have been affected as a result of the riots.
1. Jawaharlal: Gram Panchayat, Kakda, Shahpur Tehsil, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
The assailants had already taken positions. The moment our vehicles reached the village, we were attacked by the Muslim mobs. Their women and children were continuously throwing bricks at us from the rooftops. At the same time, their youth were assaulting us with sharp weapons and other arms. I was thinking about saving my life when I spotted my injured son Vikas lying on the ground. When I went close, I saw that he was dead. I then ran away with my friends. I was also hurt grievously on my head all the while. On our return to the village, we learnt that two people had died. Two days later, I got to know from the police who confirmed that my son was indeed dead. I have lodged an FIR in the police station about my son’s death but no action has been taken so far. I am saddened at my son’s death but I’m more saddened by the Government’s attitude. On the one hand, this Government is splurging money on Muslims but they don’t even bother to enquire about us. This, when the Chief Minister’s cavalcade had gone through our village just a few days ago.
2. Satpal Singh: Gram Panchayat, Sorum, Shahpur Tehsil, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
Sir, I have no complaints against a person. If at all I have a grievance, it is against the existing system and those who are running it. I had not done anything wrong to anyone; then why did I have to undergo this punishment? Is it that my only mistake was that I participated in my community’s panchayat? And now the situation is such that I am dependent on others. My hand is fractured. Even after numerous complaints to the authorities, I have received no help from the Government. No Government official or political leader has come to ask. We didn’t know that there was such a big conspiracy against us. Had we known, we would’ve taken a different route. Our intention was not to create any trouble or to indulge in bloodletting. In spite of this, we were attacked and our people were killed.
3. Ratan Singh: Gram Panchayat, Sorum, Shahpur Tehsil, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
For years, we have been part of the panchayat and because of that allegiance, when the panchayat asked us to get together on 7 September, I, along with other villagers joined the “beti bahu bachao mahapanchayat” at Nagla Madaud. I had no inkling that such an untoward incident would happen to us on the way. As soon as we entered Purbaliyan some armed men attacked us. Due to my advanced age, I could not run to escape. I was looking for an escape when suddenly two young men hit me with hockey bats and sticks and broke my leg. After I returned to my village, I lodged an FIR against the assailants but the police and the administration have made no effort to help me. Even after I fractured my leg, I did not get any compensation from the Government, and neither has any effort been made in this direction.
4. Sunita Devi: Gram Panchayat, Sorum, Shahpur Tehsil, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
Brother, a job won’t heal all the wounds that we have received. The Government has given a job but till date, no one has come to ask us about the condition we are living in. This job and money will never fulfil the void he [Vipin who was murdered in the attack] has left behind. The entire responsibility of the house was on his shoulders—from farming to managing the household to dealing with relations in the community, everything was on his shoulders. We had lodged an FIR of his murder with the police but till date no action has been taken. I am saddened by the fact that the murderers are roaming around freely and having meetings with Government officials. But the Government is neither arresting these people nor is it acting against these people. I had even complained about this to Rajnath Singh ji [BJP party president] also but what can he do? His party is not in Government but he has still promised to extend all possible help. But the ruling party and its leaders’ visits are limited only to Madrassas and Masjids and there is no one to take care of us.
5. Choudhury Mangeram: Gram Panchayat, Kutba, Shahpur Tehsil, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
No Muslim in the village has been affected. Still, all the Muslims left the village and ran away. And for that, all of them have got a fat sum of money from the Government all in the name of assistance. Amongst the beneficiaries, there are many people who had left the village many years ago and had settled elsewhere. Brother, we are not sad that these people left the village but we are sad but because it has brought disrepute to our village and our children have been framed in false cases. Many of our boys have been named in these cases. These boys were not even present in the village at the time of the riots. If this is how it continues, then our children will be good for nothing. Who will give them jobs? How will they live their lives?
6. Smt. Ram Kali Devi: Gram Panchayat, Kutba, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
We cannot see our children go to jail for things that they have no association with whatsoever. If the Government does not withdraw the false cases against our children, we courageous women will come together to agitate against the Government.
7. Vijendra Choudhary: Gram Panchayat, Malikpura, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
The road that connects to the main highway runs through the Kawal village. There is no other way to go out. All the girls and boys of this village take this road to go to Nagla Madaud to attend the schools there. The Muslim eve-teasers make use of this road and misbehave with our daughters. There are many girls who, fed up of these eve-teasers, have quit their studies. It is not just my daughter but all daughters have to go through this ordeal. One day, my daughter told her brother that a boy named Shahnawaz troubles her repeatedly after which my son with his friend went to inquire. When the matter went out of hand, a fight ensued and after that whatever happened is known to the whole world. If Shahnawaz died, then my son and relatives have also died but then cases have been thrust on only our family. One more thing I want to tell you: there were existing FIRs against Shahnawaz for eve-teasing. He was a known history sheeter in this area. He was such a scum that he had raped the daughter of his own uncle. Despite all this, it is our family that has been framed. Till date, there has been no action against the offenders. They are moving around openly and we’re living like refugees.
8. Lakshmi Devi: Gram Panchayat, Kakda, Shahpur Tehsil, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
When my husband’s corpse arrived at my doorstep, it was impossible to recognize him. His head had been smashed brutally with a rock. There were no clothes on his body. The whole body had injuries. For a moment, it seemed as if it was not my husband’s dead body but someone else’s. My husband did not have enmity either with Hindus or Muslims. He had cordial relations with all the Muslims in the village. He was part of everybody’s good and bad times. He had never wished ill for anyone but he too was killed. This is not all. There has been no action against the people who murdered him. My husband’s murderers are moving around freely, like unrestrained bulls. What did we get in return of my husband’s death? Job for our son? But is giving a job justice? My husband’s sacrifice will be meaningful the day his murderers are punished.
9. Vikas Kumar: Gram Panchayat, Sorum, Shahpur Tehsil, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
On 7 September, I had taken my tractor to the Mahapanchayat organized in Nagla Madaud. Nearly 60 people were travelling with me in my tractor. On our return, as soon as the vehicles entered Purbaliyan, we were stoned. Most of the people in my tractor were aged, unable to even walk. People were taken by surprise because of this sudden attack, and started running to save their lives. Even today, when I recall that day, I shudder in fear. It was a dreadful sight. Even today this sight of screaming people, people begging for their lives, and the naked dance of death is fresh in my mind. As soon as we entered the village, hundreds of people attacked our people travelling in various vehicles and in no time, the serene environment was turned to a scene of pitiful shrieks and wails. In all this murderous bloodletting, only the youth and the able-bodied could escape. Most others had meekly surrendered before the attackers and were pleading for their lives. In the whole village, the men were attacking on the ground and the women were hurling stones from the rooftops. The brutal dance of death was all-pervasive. I was injured too. In the end, I forgot everything and ignored the pain and tried to save my associates. Here too, I was injured again and again. Despite an injured foot, I saved some of my people and got them home. After this, I filed an FIR. Till date, no action has been taken. I am sad about the fact that the Muslims who did not suffer in these riots have been provided lakhs of rupees as Government assistance whereas no one came to ask us although we lost many people from our community.
10. Arvind Pehlwan: Gram Panchayat Sorum, Shahpur Tehsil, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
I was to accompany my uncle to the “beti bahu bachao panchayat” in Nagla Madaud on 7 September. However, my uncle asked me to stay back and attend to some work. Uncle asked me to finish the job on hand. Before he left, he also assured that he would try to return early. But no one had known that uncle will come back dead and not alive. Uncle has two sons both of who work for the Indian Air Force. One of them is married and preparations for my wedding and his other son’s wedding were on. Uncle wished that his younger son and I should marry at the same time, on the same day. There were thousands of such dreams but then destiny had other plans. We had not known that uncle would leave us grieving in this manner. There are hundreds of Muslims in our village but we had not had any acrimony so far. But now everything has changed. No one trusts us. The Muslim community of our village shies away from interacting with us. They think that we are the offenders although we have till date not hurt any Muslim villager. After uncle’s death, the Government as per ritual gave us compensation and a job to aunty. But no officer or leader of the ruling party visited us. But yes, after uncle’s death Rajnath Singh visited us, spent a lot of time and promised to help.
11. Baburam Saini: Gram Panchayat, Kamalpur, 6 December 2013.
We are saddened by the fact that the work that the Government should have done is being done by us even today. After the riots, about 40-50 Dalit families who were living on the outskirts managed to save their lives and come here. There was no place in the village where we could arrange to accommodate so many people. Then with help from all the villagers, we decided that we will house all these people in the Ravidas temple in the village. After this, we arranged clothes and food for these Dalit families. Most of those who came here were women and girls. Keeping in mind this fact, all the responsible people in the village decided that we will not let young men hang around the temple. For about the two months they stayed here, not a single Government official or politician came forward to help them. There are about 1200 Muslims in my village and not one has been hurt in the riots. Whereas in villages where Hindus were in minority, the Muslims have committed massive atrocities on them. And for that the Muslims have been given lakhs of rupees as compensation.
12. Ishwar Singh: Gram Panchayat, Kamalpur, 6 December 2013.
People from the Dalit community living in Basikalan, Purbaliayan and adjoining areas started believing that it would no longer be safe for them to stay there, and so they came here because of rioting Muslims. We, without any Government assistance kept them in our village for more than a month. These people did not have food to eat or clothes to wear. On the second day, we arranged for clothes from adjoining villages. Now they have gone back but their clothes are still lying around here.
13. Rajiv Saini: Member of Gram Panchayat Committee, Kamalpur, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
The biggest concern of those who fled to our village was the protection of their sisters and daughters. Their fears were legitimate because over the last few days, the atmosphere was so. The village constituted a committee to ensure that these refugees are looked after and provided food and a place to stay. Elders of the village were part of this committee. And it not just the member of this committee, but all the villagers took time away from their work to serve these people. The refugee camp had a total of 385 people of which 40 of them were little girls, about 70-80 were young women and about 100 kids. Keeping the sensitivities in mind, young men from the village were not allowed to go near the camp. Also, elders were posted near the camp so that the situation in the camp would remain calm and not go out of hand. The people of my village said that there are about 1200 Muslim families none of which have been hurt. But the sad part is that on the one hand the state Government is giving compensation to the Muslims who have not incurred any loss, and on the other hand, no one came to enquire about these Dalits.
14. Santosh Singh: Gram Panchayat, Kakda, Shahpur Tehsil, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
On 7 September, in front of my eyes, incidents happened about which not just me but no one could anticipate or imagine. On that fateful day, after the panchayat, I, along with Harendra Malik and friends were returning to the village. The gravity of the matter discussed and the decisions taken by the panchayat were being debated. No one in our vehicle had an inkling that in the next few moments, the age-old social harmony was about to be ruptured and mutual trust and love was to be destroyed forever. The moment all our vehicles (in which we had travelled to attend the Panchayat) entered Purbaliyan, people already stationed there attacked our convoy like a pack of hungry wolves. The air was rent with all round commotion and shrieks with people desperately trying to find means to save their lives. The moment our vehicle entered Purbaliayan, people from the Muslim community came close and asked us to stop the vehicle and alight. After that, some armed men attacked us. Those still in the vehicle somehow managed to escape but by then my whole body was bleeding from injury. A sense of bias against the Jats had already permeated in the atmosphere of Purbaliayan over the past few months largely due to the Government’s apathy and the leaders’ divisive minds, which had made the Jats as the biggest villains in the eyes of the Muslims.
15. Rampal: Mani Gram Panchayat, Muzaffarnagar district. 6 December 2013.
I am a villager and agriculture is the sole source of my income. This year, I had sowed sugarcane in my farm. The crop was ready and waiting to be harvested. I was preparing for it when my farm was set on fire and my 80 bighas of sugarcane was reduced to ashes. I filed an FIR but till date I have received no compensation; neither has an inquiry been carried out.
Continued in the next part
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