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10 YEARS OF MUZAFFARNAGAR RIOTS: Displaced Muslims from BJP Minister’s Village Unable to Return Homes

Victims under Pressure to Compromise with Accused

The situation in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining villages seems to have not improved because the displaced persons have yet not been able to return to their homes.

Masihuzzama Ansari

Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, October 10, 2023: A decade has passed since the worst communal riots took place in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh in September 2013. According to official sources, 62 persons were killed – 42 Muslims and 20 Hindus – but more than 50,000 persons – all Muslims – were displaced.

The situation in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining villages seems to have not improved because the displaced persons have yet not been able to return to their homes. It is so bad that 300 Muslim families have not been able to return to their homes in Kutba, the native village of BJP minister Sanjeev Baliyan. No namaz has been performed in the village mosque for the last 10 years. This speaks volumes about the law-and-order situation in India’s most populous state, with Muslims accounting for about 20 percent of the total population of the state.

Sanjeev Baliyan was accused of inciting the mob to attack Muslims.

Kutba villagers say that 3000 Muslims of the village were forced to migrate to save their lives from the rioters. As Muslims still feel unsafe in their village, they have not returned and have been living either with their relatives in nearby villages and towns like Shamli and Palra or settled down at other places with the aid offered by community organisations.

Villagers say the rioters not only targeted the houses and shops of Muslims but also their mosque which was set ablaze.

The mosque now lies in a ruined state. The remnants of the mosque tell the story of the severity of the attack.

Qabristan land in Kutba village

Village’s Eidgah and Qabristan are also being encroached upon by the Hindu villagers. Cow dung is thrown at Eidgah. The boundary walls of the Eidgah have weakened. Tall grasses have grown all over the Qabristan.

weakening wall of Eidgah

While showing the weakening boundary of the Eidgah, Irfan Saifi of the village said that he used to offer Eid Namaz there. He said, “We have memories attached to this Eidgah but no Eid Namaz has been offered for the last ten years here. We are peeved at the poor condition of the Eidgah.”

There were 300 Muslim families and almost 3000 population before the riot broke out here but the village is bereft of any Muslim now.

The mosque has been deserted for the last 10 years

The mosque has been deserted for the last 10 years but one man comes from the nearby village to sweep it.

Kutba was one of the worst-hit villages during the Muzaffarnagar riots. Eight persons were killed in the village.

On September 7, 2013, there was a Mahapanchayat organized against the murder of two Jat youths at Muzaffarnagar’s Mandaud school playground in which thousands of people had gathered. In the Mahapanchayat, several BJP leaders allegedly delivered hate speeches. After the Mahapanchayat, the returning mob attacked the houses and mosques of the Muslims which was followed by an outbreak of communal riots.

The returning mob of the Mahapanchayat attacked the mosque, ransacked it, and set ablaze all the things inside

Hussain of Kutba village told this scribe that the returning mob of the Mahapanchayat attacked the mosque, ransacked it, and set ablaze all the things inside.

The rioters had forcibly climbed on the roof of the mosque and broke the water tank, damaging the railing and the building

Anis of the same village had left the village during the riot but now he is back. He said that the rioters had forcibly climbed on the roof of the mosque and broke the water tank, damaging the railing and the building. The rioters set the mats ablaze, in which the copy of the Holy Quran too got burnt.

The signs of the broken railing, water tank, and arson at the Kutba village mosque and adjoining houses are clearly visible even after 10 years of the riots.

On the question of who did the ransacking and arson, Irfan Saifi said that all was done by the villagers and “We know all of them.”

Irfan and Hussain said, “We and our ancestors offered Namaz in the mosque which has been deserted for 10 years now and no Namaz has been offered after the riot.”

The Riot Victim Struggle Committee’s president Mohammad Salim said, “We never returned to the village due to the terror as we had witnessed the death from close quarters.”

Hussain Ahmad under Pressure to Compromise
Hussain Ahmad, whose 65-year-old mother was shot dead during the Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh in September 2013, has been fighting for justice.

A resident of Kutba village, Hussain was forced to migrate. He now lives in nearby Palra village.

On September 8, 2023, an irate mob attacked the Muslim population of the Kutba village and looted their houses.

Eight persons of Kutba were killed by the mob. Hussain’s mother Khatoon was also one of them. She was shot in the head.

Trying to bring the killers of her mother to justice, Hussain is running from pillar to post in the court. Narrating his struggle to seek justice, he expressed his disappointment. He said that there is very little hope left now to get justice.

He said that the accused in this case were sent to jail but got bail just in three months. “Eight accused involved in murder cases are roaming free. Now, we are under pressure for a compromise”, said Hussain.

He said that there was pressure to compromise in many cases but “I will not come under anyone’s pressure.”

On the question of who is putting pressure, he named an influential BJP leader. He gets emotional talking about his mother and says that he will never forget that incident.

Hussain said, “Those who shot at my mother included some from my village and others from the mob returning from a Mahapanchayat. The FIR was registered after much pleading and the accused were arrested after exerting pressure but they managed to get bail just in three months.”

He said all the accused are named, court gives dates but there seems to be no progress. Hussain said that victims were facing pressure to withdraw the murder and loot cases. “The victims are being forced to take back the case,” alleges Hussain.

Demand for Justice
Expressing concern over the pressure to compromise, Hussain and others say they demand justice for the victims and punishment for the murder accused.

Hussain said, “We demand that the government should take cognizance of the victims of the Muzaffarnagar riot. There are many families that have been displaced and they are still unable to return to their homes. How can anyone fight the case when there is no employment.”

Many riot victims living in Nalhar village said they had yet not received compensation for the losses in the riot. Many families have not been accepted as a separate family and those families are facing problems.

Reasons for the riot in Muzaffarnagar’s Kaval village
A scuffle took place between Kaval’s Shahnawaz and Sachin and Gaurav of Malikpura village on August 27, 2013. Sachin and Gaurav killed Shahnawaz after the incident. In retaliation, the angry mob killed Sachin and Gaurav.

To protest the killing of the two Jat youths, a Mahapanchayat was organized in Muzaffarnagar’s Mandaud school’s playground where thousands of people gathered. After the Mahapanchayat, the returning mob attacked the houses and mosques of the Muslims which turned into a full-fledged communal riot.

During the riot, there were reports of rape with women too but their complaints could not be registered for different reasons.

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