Growing demand for action against those responsible for Muzaffarnagar riots

[Images] [हिन्दी] A number of secular parties, intellectuals and organizations came together in a public meeting held to mark Gandhi Jayanti in front of Vidhan Sabha Lucknow where an appeal was made to uproot communal forces. The meeting began with lines from Gandhiji’s favourite poem: ‘Ishwar allah tero naam, sabko sanmati de bhagwaan’.

This public meeting was organized by Socialist Party (India), Rashtriya Viklang Party, Rihai Manch, Voters Party International, Welfare Party of India, Bhartiya Krishak Dal, Indian National League, Bhartiya Ekta Party (M), Khudai Khidmatgar, Lok Rajniti Manch, Students’ Islamic Organization (SIO) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM).

Magsaysay Awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey said that "Muzaffarnagar has witnessed one of the most severe forms of communal violence. On one hand Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) tried to increase its vote share and on another hand Samajwadi Party was also attempting to benefit from this tragedy. Till recently it was beginning to appear as if the politics to polarise votes in communal riots is becoming irrelevant. But communal frenzy in Muzaffarnagar has refreshed the memory of Gujarat pogrom 2002, Babri Masjid demolition and partition. Actually by calling them ‘riots’ is to minimize the extent to which the violence took place."

Dr Sandeep Pandey who is also a Member of National Presidium of Lok Rajniti Manch and a senior Socialist Party (India) leader, added: "Whether Shahnawaz had teased a girl as claimed by Jats or was it a dispute arising after an accident between a motorcycle and cycle as claimed by relatives of Shahnawaz, it is only because of administrative failure and political interference that allowed this incident (and killings of Shahnawaz, Sachin and Gaurav) to catapult into such a large-scale communal frenzy and massacre. Why was action not taken on 27 August 2013 after the above-mentioned crimes took place? Despite Section 144 in place, why did the District Magistrate (DM) allowed big meetings to be held of Muslims and then Jats on 30-31 August? DM even went to accept memorandum in the meeting held by Muslims. Similarly why did the administration allowed the Mahapanchayat to take place in Nangla Mandod on 7 September and permitted BJP leaders to go there? When violence erupted on 7-8 September, why did not the police take effective measures to control it? If we want that violence which took place in Muzaffarnagar should not occur again we must act strictly against those officers and political leaders whose action or inaction was responsible to fuel it. But since Samajwadi Party has not taken action against those responsible for riots in Faizabad, Pratapgarh, Bareilly, Matura, etc, there is little hope left."

Those people who are living in refugee camps are so shocked and mortified that they are reluctant to go back to their homes. One big challenge that confronts us now is how to restore the trust back between Jat and Muslim communities. Similarly another challenge is to restore the harmony and atmosphere back so that those Muslims who were forced to flee from their homes feel safe and secure to return.

Senior social activist Dr Sandeep Pandey said: "We demand that those officers and leaders who were responsible for this communal violence in Muzaffarnagar should be held accountable and action taken against them. State government must ensure that those people who are displaced must be rehabilitated with dignity – if they want to go back then government must ensure that atmosphere is harmonious and safe for them to return and if they do not want to go back then they must be rehabilitated elsewhere with dignity."

Citizen News Service - CNS
October 2013