“Sirf apni jaan layein hain saath mein baki sab mar gaya” (Only we are alive, everything else is finished).
These words of 26-year-old and homeless Mehraaj sum up the tale of the people in two big relief camps in this riot-torn city who have refused to go back to their homes.
A number of families from nearby villages of Khedipatti, Kutba-Kutbi, Dulehra, Kirthar, Kharad, Bawdi, Sisouli, Marwada, Nawad, Badeh and Kilori are based at these camps at Bassikalan and Tawli which were also visited by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday.
While at Bassikalan (about 30 km from the district headquarters), a madrasa has been converted into shelter house, at Tawli the yellow-coloured Islamia school is housing those who have fled their homes in the wake of the riots which broke out about 10 days ago and have claimed 48 lives in this district till now.
The government calls these places ‘sahayata shivir’ (helping camps), but the locals say they will make these locations their homes.
“We told the PM, Soniaji and Rahulji that we will not go back. Talk to anyone and they will say the same thing. There is no guarantee of life to our families... everything has been looted or burnt so how can we go back,” 42-year-old Jameel Bassi, a resident of Kutbi village and the elder of four brothers told PTI.
Bassi could not hold his tears as soon as the Prime Minister and the Congress leaders arrived at the camp.
The families at Bassikalan, estimated to be around 120 and about 2,000 people, say the camp at Tawli, about 10 km away and Sanjhat are their new neighbourhoods.
“There is no news about my family members and other relatives. I go to the nearby camps to see and check if I could find someone there. We will never go back to our village. We feel scared,” Mehraaj said.
Mehmood Hasan (32), is anguished that he has to leave his farming in Paldi village and is anxiously waiting for things to get normal as he says he has “only tried to save his and his family’s life and nothing else” since September 7.