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Inside the camps for Muzaffarnagar riot victims
Wednesday December 18, 2013 11:16 PM, Areeb Rizvi

Jamia Students Solidarity Forum along with some journalists visited the relief camps situated in Shamli district of Uttar-Pradesh on 15 December 2013 where the victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots have taken shelter.

Muzaffarnagar Relief Camps

JSSF distributed clothes, some toys to the children and 700 blankets among the victims. We first reached the Mallakpur camp where around 4500 people are living in tarpaulin tents under the open sky in this chilling weather. On arrival at Mallakpur we found that the DG (Health) Dr. A S Rathor and CMO Dr. Lokesh Kumar Gupta (Shamli) were present in the camp. We asked them about the veracity of the claim of the Shamli district administration that there has been no casualty in the relief camps due to the cold weather.

The district administration of Shamli sent a report to the UP Home secretary on 5 December 2013 which stated that there had been zero child deaths in the relief camps. They firmly adhered to that claim of the district administration. After meeting some of the victims and having a look at the camp we walked down to the graveyard across the road adjacent to the camp. We found there newly built graves and majority were of children.

We asked the DG (Health) Dr. A S Rathor and the CMO Dr. Lokesh Kumar Gupta (Shamli) to kindly accompany us to the other interior camps which are thriving for the attention of everyone. We proceeded towards the Noorpur Khurgan camp at Kaththa Nadi, Kairana where we met the people residing in the camps. They clearly stated that they have not received any medical facility from the government while some doctors through some NGO working for them had brought them.

We then proceeded towards the next camp Sanethi. Here we learnt that six small children have died due to cold-weather. Five of them died due to cold while one succumbed to snakebite. The DG and CMO both noted the names of the deceased and other relevant information.

When we asked the DG and CMO to give us in writing that they have received six testimonies from the mothers of the deceased children they denied and ran away in hurry from there leaving us there.

We visited some camps located in the interior areas like Bibipur Hatia camp, Bhura camp and Kanethi camp. And finally we visited the Kandhala camp.

While talking to the victims across the camps we asked about the problems which they are facing. Lack of proper drinking water and sanitation, proper shelter as the tarpaulin tents couldnot prevent the dew so they wake up in wet blankets, lack of proper clothes and grocery, lack of medical facilities etc are the common problems being faced by these homeless people.

The Samajwadi party led Uttar Pradesh government's apathy towards these camps is no more a hidden fact. But the point is that none of the leaders of other political parties have visited any of these camps so far to assess the situation after initial few days. Camps located in the interior areas like Bibipur Hatia, Bhura and Kanethi camps are in pathetic situation and they have not seen any government official from months.

Instead of working for these people the state government wants them to vacate the camps as soon as possible. The traumatised people who were mercilessly attacked by their neighbours in their villages do not want to return back and even if some of them wish to return the administration and the government has failed to persuade them to do so. The apprehension of the victims that if they return they would be attacked has compelled them to live in the camps.

In all the camps we saw children without adequate clothes and most of them were barefoot without any slipper or shoe. The shortage of the food items and clothes are a common problem which we heard in all camps.

I could only say that the state has left these people to die. It reminds me of the words of Allama Iqbal.

Taqdeer ke qaazi ka ye fatwa hai azal se,
Hai jurm-e-zayeefi ki sazaa marg-e-mufajaat!

[This is the verdict of creator of destiny to time,
Punishment for crime of being weak is ultimate death!]

On humanitarian ground, JSSF pleads to the readers to come forward and help these people who are the victims of the politics of hate.

(The writer, Areeb Rizvi was a part of the team and is the general secretary of the Jamia Students Solidarity Forum.)

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