Inhabitants fear social harassment and threats from other communities

Even as the temperatures dip in western Uttar Pradesh, inhabitants of the Malakpur relief camp in Shamli are resisting the administration’s attempts to make them vacate the camp, the last major one remaining in the district. Around 4,000 people, many from riot-affected villages, still live in Malakpur.

Shamli District Magistrate P.K. Singh appealed to the inhabitants to shift to safer places to avoid the cold. A group of officials from the neighbouring Baghpat district also visited the camp on Saturday and urged the victims to return home.

But the villagers, who say that they are being coerced, have refused to budge. They have threatened to stage a dharna along with representatives from other camps if the administration continues with its drive.

Malakpur victims have spent two restless nights, with many staying up all night, to prevent any “forceful” action by the administration.

The Shamli and Muzaffarnagar administration have, however, dismissed these allegations. Malakpur camp in-charge Gulshad said the villagers would not return to their homes till the administration gave them “written assurances” of security.

The villagers have submitted a memorandum to the district administration stipulating that they will only return home if they were given adequate security, two months ration and their damaged property is repaired.

“We will not allow them to chase us away. How can they guarantee our safety when they are yet to arrest the culprits? The violence took place under the nose of the same police,” said Gulshad.

Shamli SP Anil Kumar Rai said the police and the administration had given assurances of security to the villagers.

“There is no reason why villagers who have not been affected by the riots should not return. We understand that those from riot-affected villages are living in fear, but a long time has passed and things are normal. People who returned two months back are living safely,” he said. A section of the inhabitants of the camp feared that they would have to endure “social harassment” if they returned home. Many still perceive threat from other communities.

Meanwhile, Shehzad Poonawala, an activist who is running a campaign to rehabilitate the riot victims, alleged that he received death threats after he announced a fast at the camp site to protest any forceful eviction. He also alleged that the U.P. Local Intelligence Unit was “intrusively calling him” to keep a tab on his whereabouts.

“Any violence against me will be an excuse to create confusion among villagers and claim the camp be wound up due to law and order problems,” he said.

  • ‘How can they guarantee security when they have not held the culprits?’

  • ‘There is no reason for people not affected by riots

    to not return’