The Bebak Collective, a group that speaks for the rights of Muslim women, on Friday criticised a recently-released National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) report that appeared to validate claims made by BJP MP Hukum Singh who had, earlier this year, said 250 Hindu families had fled Kairana in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district out of fear.
At an event here, speakers, including civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad and others from Kairana and Muzaffarnagar, alleged that the report has been ‘strategically released before the impending UP Assembly elections, which has a blatant communal undertone’.
The group said, “Kairana, a small town of the recently-created Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh, has become conspicuous due to the zealous media reports alleging the ‘exodus’ of Hindu families during 2013-16 due to the ‘massive influx’ by [the affected in the] Muzaffarnagar riots of September 2013. As a corollary to this sequence of incidents, the NHRC report came out claiming the ‘exodus’ of Hindu families from Kairana town has been a result of of settlement of ‘certain’ communities in the town, because of which women feel unsafe and the crime rate has increased.”
They said the commission’s report, released on September 21, ascribed criminality to an already socially marginalised community. “If one looks back in time, the Muzaffarnagar riots also happened right before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The recent report, which comes before the UP Assembly elections, makes one ask whether communal violence has become intrinsic to electoral politics of the Indian democracy.”
While activists from Kairana questioned the method by which the NHRC report was compiled and its observations, Ms. Setalvad described the report as “shoddy” and not one appropriate for the NHRC to put out. “The NHRC is wedded to certain international norms and is supposed to give a substantive report. It represents not the government but the people of India. A report in which the NHRC calls a certain community criminal is not becoming of a body headed by retired judges of the Supreme Court,” she said.
The group said it wanted to collectively remember the horrors of the Muzaffarnagr riots “which is strategically being pushed under the carpet”. It pointed out that over 50,000 people were displaced and are now segregated all over UP in a homeless state and without rights.
“While the struggles for compensation and the remaking of their homes post the Muzaffarnagar riots continue, what is lost is the promise of social security by the State to the minorities of the country,” it said.
The Bebak Collective demanded the NHRC withdraw its “communally biased” report and ensure safety and social security of the displaced Muslim communities, who have now settled in Kairana. It also demanded the commission apologise to Muslim families settled in Kairana.
Activists from Kairana questioned the method by which the NHRC report was compiled, and its observations