New Delhi: A spirited demonstration was held today at Uttar Pradesh Bhavan in Delhi to protest against the callous and insensitive attitude of the UP government towards the riot affected and displaced survivors. As news of the government notification directing the closure of all relief camps spread at the end of the year, there was anger among activists who have been working with the riot victims for the past three months since the violence broke out.
Several civil society organisations participated in the demonstration. Speakers condemned the administrative failure of the UP government to first protect the victims from rioters, then its failure to ensure the return of peace by refusing to act against the perpetrators of violence, or by providing for those forced to flee their homes and reliefs to seek shelter in relief camps.
The UP government has, the speakers emphasized, multiplied this injustice by now ordering the destruction of all camps. Speakers also underlined the importance of initiating a dialogue in the violence hit area, with a view to restoring peace, while reiterating their commitment to provide relief to the victims.
Among the prominent speakers were: Prof. Apoorvanad (Aman Ekta Manch); Adv N.D. Pancholi (PUCL); Prof. Rizwan Qaiser, Dr. Arjumand Ara (D.U), Dr. Tanweer Fazal (JTSA); several students and youth activists.
They submitted following memorandum to the Uttar Pradesh Governor Banwari Lal Joshi asking his immediate intervention and to stop the demolition of the relief camps.
Through the Resident Commissioner,
Uttar Pradesh Bhavan, New Delhi.
Subject: Forcible Eviction of Riot Victims from Relief Camps
As you are aware, in September riotous violence broke out in Muzaffarnagar, forcing thousands to flee from their homes and ancestral villages for relief camps. Three months after the riots erupted – due to lack of administrative resolve to tame potential troublemakers, in the first place – those who instigated and executed arson, murder and rape roam free; while the victims of that violence are forced to suffer fear, indignity, hunger, disease, and even deaths of their children in relief camps.
The UP Government, frugal from the beginning in its aid to the victims, has now crossed all limits of callous governance and cynical political calculation, by ordering the eviction of riot hit peoples from the relief camps, dismantling the flimsy tents, which at least provided them with a modicum of shelter against the bitter cold. This campaign is being carried out by brutal force: eyewitnesses in Loi, Neem Kheri, Bhora etc have reported the heavy deployment of police force and the forcible closure of these camps by bulldozing the tents and hearths and beating up the residents. The UP government is also indulging in blackmail, threatening to hold up compensation for those who do not evacuate the camps immediately. It has even demolished the tents erected on land brought by the riot victims.
Where force and blackmail fail, it is not above employing outright deceit. The UP government is now peddling the lie that people are either moving out voluntarily or are being relocated to the Budhana Tehsil camp. As news reports and civil society reports have amply demonstrated that both these claims are false.
While we fail to understand how government, any government, can be so deliberately cruel and insensitive towards the suffering of the people, we are writing to you with a deep sense of urgency, requesting you to kindly intervene to ensure that those already displaced from their villages and home are at least allowed to continue to live in the relief camps. We appeal to you to kindly ensure that those forced out of their last shelter do not die on the streets of cold. Please prevail upon the UP government to halt the demolition of the relief camps with immediate effect.
Asad Ashraf and Preetika Nanda (Jamia Students’ Solidarity Forum), Amir Khan, Manan Trivedi and Bhavna Sharma (ANHAD); Manisha Sethi, Tanweer Fazal and Amabrien Alqadr (JTSA), Ehtasham Khan (Indian Wisdom Foundation); Adv. N D Pancholi and Mahtab Alam (PUCL, Delhi); Prof. Apporvanand, Dr. Arjumand Ara and Jamal Kidwai (Aman Ekta Manch); Deepti Bharti, NFIW; Navaid Hamid, MOEMIN and many others.