But one woman narrates how some members of the Jat community came forward to protect those under threat

“Armed with sickles and countrymade weapons, they broke into a house where over two dozen members of our community were holed-up hoping to escape the wrath of rioters. The assailants opened fire at us indiscriminately, slashed people with sharp weapons and burnt down our houses,” recounted 35-year-old Harunisha, a resident of Bhauri village in Fugana that witnessed a series of communal clashes on Sunday.

“ As a precautionary measure I had already sent seven of my 10 children to Kairana along with my sister after the riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar. As the situation continued to deteriorate, about 25 of us from the community decided to move into one building hoping the violence would subside soon. However, on Sunday afternoon my brother-in-law Irshad came rushing, asking us to close the main door as a group of armed men had entered the locality,” she said.

The mob soon started pelting stones. “They broke the main door, forced their way in and fired several rounds at us, seriously injuring Dilshad. His 11-year-old daughter Ikra was hit in the eye, which completely disfigured her face. She immediately collapsed on the floor. The assailants also shot our family friend Liyakat. My daughter Aksa and I sustained splinter injuries in the face and other parts of the body. They did not even spare my 10-year-old daughter Ajra, inflicting deep cuts on her with sickles. The rioters also set ablaze the two adjoining houses of my sisters. Dilshad, his daughter and Liyakat soon succumbed to their injuries,” said Harunisha, comforting Aksa who writhed in pain.

The riot victims were rescued by security forces and taken to Shamli, where they were referred to the Muzaffarnagar city hospital on Monday. Harunisha’s husband Aas Mohammad, a cloth trader, was away on a business tour to Maharashtra when the violence broke out.

Among the injured lodged in the ophthalmology ward of the city hospital was Akhtari, a resident of Nakh in Fugana. “We knew all along that we will be targeted as they had on September 7 (after the “mahapanchayat” at Kawal village) threatened to eliminate us. But then a few members of the dominant Jat community came forward to provide us protection. They spent the entire night guarding our houses and left the next morning thinking that normality in the area had been restored. However, some unruly elements turned violent, raising slogans. They ransacked our house and set ablaze our belongings. In the melee, my husband jumped off the terrace and broke his leg. My 70-year-old mother-in-law also sustained injuries,” she said.

Avanesh, who is yet to regain consciousness, was with his friends on his way back from the “mahapanchayat” when they were ambushed by a group near Purbalyan near Mansurpur. “As curfew was imposed by the district administration, we could not take him to hospital the same day,” said his relative.

Among the injured was also 26-year-old Shah Faizal, a medical practitioner from Soram, whose friends alleged that he was attacked by security personnel on Sunday. “Some miscreants opened fire in the neighbourhood, following which security forces reached there. They beat us black and blue,” alleged Faizal’s friend Shah Azam, who also sustained minor injuries.