Meerut clash scares riot-hit, they delay their return home

Violent clashes in Meerut and a spate of ‘panchayats’ against alleged booking of hundreds of people in false cases in connection with the recent riots in Muzaffarnagar could delay the return of thousands of displaced riot victims, who have been living in relief camps for the past several days.

Officials in Muzaffarnagar said the violence in Meerut had come as a shock to the people who were planning to return to their homes. “They have now refused to leave the camps saying the situation was still volatile and they apprehend threat to their lives,” said a district official.

As many as 40,000 people from Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Baghpat districts have been living in five relief camps since the communal violence erupted in Muzaffarnagar early last month. The violence left at least 50 people dead and hundreds others injured.

The state government had directed district officials to do everything possible to ensure that the victims return to their villages. “As long as people remain in relief camps, the situation cannot be said to be normal,” the official said.

Although the officials claimed that some riot victims had returned to their homes, their numbers are too meagre to make a difference.

“Many victims had agreed to return to their villages but the violence in Meerut on Sunday came as a shock to people living in the relief camps. Now they say the situation is still not normal,” the official added.

The district authorities have been making an all-out attempt to persuade the displaced people to go back to their villages and assured them that no harm would come to them. Yet the people did not buy those assurances.

The apprehension of violence is so strong that the people did not return to their homes even for solemnising weddings.

Besides there were also plans to organise panchayats in the Jat-dominated villages in the days to come to protest against the alleged ‘one-sided action’ by police. Though the state government has banned the panchayats, police find itself helpless when thousands of people arrive at the venue through sugarcane fields.

According to sources, a majority of the inmates of the relief camps wanted the government to settle them at some other place.

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