Sugarcane farms turn killing fields in UP
Sugarcane is ready for harvest in Muzaffarnagar district but farmers in the riot-torn region are not venturing into the fields as they have become ideal spots for the recurring killings.
Since the outbreak of communal violence in September, a majority of attacks and killings in the rural areas in the district have taken place either in the dense cane fields or around them.
“It is easier to dump the bodies inside the cane fields... The cops, who look for the victims on the narrow strips between the fields, can not know if there are bodies in the middle of the fields as they are not visible from outside,” said a police officer here.
The rural areas of the district have been witnessing attacks even after the lifting of the curfew and the official announcement that the situation was normal.
“Continued attacks in the rural areas have proved to be the biggest deterrents for the riot-victims to return their places,” the official said.
“Cane is ready to be harvested but we are scared of going to the fields due to the fear of being attacked,” said Mangey Lal, a resident of Mohanpur Raisingh.
He said the villagers had seen people from outside roaming near the cane fields. “Unidentified miscreants have warned some people not to venture out,” he added.
The topography of the rural areas is such that the villages inhabited by rival communities are not very far from each other. The recent killings have also taken place near the fields at Mohemmedpur village and all the three victims hail from the neighbouring Hussainpur village.
Villagers have demanded deployment of security personnel in strength in the rural areas to prevent such attacks. “We will suffer huge losses if we do not harvest the crop,” said Yogendra, also a resident of Mohanpur Raisingh village.
The district lies in what is called the sugar belt of western Uttar Pradesh and is one of the important sugar cane producing regions in the world. Sugar and jaggery production is a key industrial sector in the district.