Amid the uncertainty in a riot-affected relief camp in Muzaffarnagar, a man is on a mission to reunite a child with his parents.
Mohammad Shamshad, a labourer from Nirpaura village, found a baby crying on the road during the turmoil that hit the western belts of Uttar Pradesh. After failing to get through to the parents of the lost baby, Mr. Shamshad decided to adopt him.
“My priority was to keep him safe,” says Mr. Shamshad, who lives in the Loi relief camp, one of the largest and worst affected. “I appealed to the administration and media to help me find his parents. What can be better than uniting a baby with his mother? I tried to find out about his parents and went to Kairana but met with no success.”
The baby, who is around 3-4 years old, is now called Shareek. “He cannot tell if his parents were murdered in the riot and doesn’t know the name of his village,” says Mr. Shamshad. If the child’s parents have been murdered, he could avail the compensation given by the State, stresses Asad Hayat, senior advocate and co-petitioner in the Supreme Court case in the Muzaffarnagar riots.
As inmates leave the camps to shift to government shelter and plots bought by them, Mr. Shamshad is not in a mood to budge. He lives in the camp with his wife and child adopted from a relative. “If I can adopt one, then why not two,” he asks. However, Mr. Shamshad is not too enthusiastic about the future and bringing up the child. “I will feed him whatever little I have,” he says.
While Mr. Shamshad has reached out to the administration orally, he has not filed an FIR about the child. “If I am chased out I will live on the street but not return to my village,” he says.