Panel terms rehab process faulty

Panel terms rehab process faulty

Riot aftermath: Muslims refuse to return home fearing retribution

Non-existence of government-run relief camps, district administration busy preparing for VVIP visits, Muslims refusing to return to their houses apprehending retribution and fear of arrest among Jats leading to self-imposed curfew in villages were some of the things witnessed by a fact-finding team of a Delhi-based think-tank in the riot-hit Muzaffarnagar.

A six-member team, sent by the Centre for Policy Analysis, on Tuesday came out with its report on their visit to the district, demanding a time-bound inquiry by a Supreme Court judge into the riots there. The team said the riots were the result of tension simmering for the last two months.

The fact-finding team consisted of former IAS officer Harsh Mander, former BSF director-general E N Rammohan, National Integration Council member John Dayal, JNU professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy and journalists Sukumar Muralidharan and Seema Mustafa. They visited Muzaffarnagar last Saturday.

“Villages are tense with fear. Kasbas (small settlements) and hamlets have been purged of Muslim presence, and the Hindu quarters have also emptied out in a self-imposed curfew even at midday. Women and children peep out from behind closed doors and windows, their menfolk having fled to avoid arrest as criminal complaints are made out against them. The atmosphere reeks of embitterment and betrayed trust,” said the report.

The team claimed that conspicuous by their absence were government officials in relief camps set up by communities, and sanitation seemed to be the least priority. Meeting the basic need of food itself was a challenge in these camps, it said.

It added that when the team visited the district on Saturday, the district administration was “neck deep” in work, preparing for the visits of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on September 16 and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav a day before that.

The absence of the administration also showed in the absence of official records. FIRs were registered on oral statements of some of the victims, but there was no attempt to record the statements or organise affidavits from the victims, said the report. “The police response has been too little and too late,” it added.

Team members said the district administration told them that they had “no idea” the violence would spread to the villages. They also claimed that social media was misused to trigger violence.

They wanted the government to organise relief camps and not leave it to the community to set up such camps.