Around 30 families in the Sanjhak relief camp in Muzaffarnagar have been booked for living illegally on government land as the State claims that they were not riot-affected persons. These families from Kinoni, not among the officially recognized riot-affected villages, were living in the make-shift camps meant for the riot victims.

The families who claim to be affected by the riots were asked to leave the camps but they refused. They have been booked for encroaching on a government graveyard, which is under the control of the Waqf Board. Around 90 families live in the Sanjhak camp presently. In its initial status report, the State had admitted that Sanjhak was a running relief camp with “608” persons. However, in its latest consolidated compilation of documents, the State has submitted that Sanjhak camp was closed. However, there is no data on the relocation of these persons or their present location.

The inmates claim that they are afraid to return home as they fear reprisal.

"Our property has been looted. The Jats tell us to cut our beard and remove our cap if we want to venture into our village. They have restrictions on our religious life. Where will we go?" asks Neeshu Ahmad, 27, a student.

He adds that he would leave the graveyard if the administration got them a better accommodation. Reacting angrily to Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh’s comments that conspirators were living in relief camps, Mr. Ahmad said: “We invite Mulayam Singh to stay with us and enjoy the picnic.”

While Kinoni is merely 3 km away from Kutba amd Kutbi villages, where 8 persons were murdered and several injured, it is not officially recognized as riot-affected. Only nine villages are recognized as riot-affected. However, villagers challenge this view.

“If the village had not been affected then why would they have distributed ration to us after the riots? There was so much fear and tension as people were dying in neighbouring villages, the pradhan himself asked us to escape and save our lives,” said Ali Hasan. While no deaths were recorded from Kinoni, the villagers claim that around a dozen women were molested during the riots. However, no FIR has been lodged. Some inmates also alleged that the State had shown them as having debts to deter them from returning to their villages.

Asad Hayat, senior advocate and co-petitioner in the Supreme Court case in the Muzaffarnagar riots, questioned the State’s move asking how they could remove the people without seeking permission from the Waqf Board. “The land belongs to the Waqf. The displaced were living in the graveyard with the permission of the graveyard committee. Why don’t they look into other illegal encroachments on Waqf property first?” asked Mr. Hayat.

Waqf Board controller Zafar Faruki said the Waqf could provide help to the displaced if it was approached. “The situation warrants it. But so far nobody has approached us,” he said.

ADM Indra Mani Tripathi did not respond to phone calls.

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