Only Muslim family in Lisad village says it will vote for ‘security’

2013 riots forced over 300 Muslim families to flee the area

Published - April 07, 2019 08:13 am IST - SHAMLI

Mohammad Islam Saifi (right) with his family members at his residence at Lisad village in Shamli, Uttar Pradesh.

Mohammad Islam Saifi (right) with his family members at his residence at Lisad village in Shamli, Uttar Pradesh.

The only Muslim family living in Jat-dominated Lisad village said it will vote for “security and development” in the coming Lok Sabha election.

The village had over 2,500 Muslim population till August 2013 when the Muzaffarnagar riots forced them to flee their homes.

More than a dozen Muslims were killed in the riots and around 300 families left the village to take refuge in camps or nearby villages.

Their houses were bought by the locals at nominal rates. Today, Lisad is dominated by around 7,000 Jat voters.

Mohammad Islam Saifi, 50, who lives in the village with six other family members — his father, wife, three sons and one daughter — said they have been living peacefully in the village ever since they returned in early 2014.

The others have refused to come back owing to safety of their family members.

Locked mosques

“There are four mosques in the village but three of them are locked as there is no one to offer namaz there. We visit one of the mosques and have requested a Haji [someone who has performed the Haj] to organise Friday prayers regularly,” said Mr. Saifi.

Israr, Mr. Saifi’s elder son, is preparing to join the Indian Army. He said he regularly attends college located in a nearby village and has not faced any safety threat.

“Whatever happened in 2013 was very bad and I wish it never gets repeated,” he said, adding that he has no issues with any community in the village.

Mr. Saifi said he owns 13 bigha farmland in the village. After the riots broke out, he fled the village with his family and stayed at a refugee camp.

Later, some villagers visited the camp and assured him of safety to his family. This prompted him to return to his home while the other families settled in the nearby Muslim-dominated villages.

Mr. Saifi’s father Mohammad Bashir, 90, who spends most of his time on a cot, said his great grandfather lived in the village and he too will die here only.

Pending FIRs

Most of the Muslims in Shamli district are landless labourers who work in sugarcane farms owned by Jats, Tyagis and Gujjars.

Hari Kishan Malik, head of Gathwala Khap in Lisad, said despite assurance from the BJP government that FIRs registered against villagers after the riots will be withdrawn, many are still pending.

“We support nationalism propagated by the [Narendra] Modi government. Only he can fight enemies like Pakistan. We support him but we need him to see the plight of farmers in western U.P. and request [Chief Minister] Yogi Adityanath to withdraw the cases at the earliest,” said Mr. Malik.

Deplorable condition

The Hindu visited Munawar Hasan Colony located on the outskirts of Kairana.

The area is also known as ‘Nahid colony’, where riot-hit families were relocated. Around 200 families are living in the colony in deplorable condition, with no facility of sanitation and water supply.

“We don’t have a proper school building for our children. It’s a temporary construction with irregular attendance of teachers. We have no place to send our children for quality education,” said Mohammad Islam, who works as a labourer and earns ₹300 per day. The colony accommodates around 1,700 voters.

Jaan Bibi, who lives in a house with six other family members, said they had applied for an LPG cylinder connection under the Ujjwala scheme.

A man visited the colony and got application forms filled by all of them, but hardly 10% families got the connection.

The rest of them collect wood from nearby areas and use them to prepare food.

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