People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXVII

No. 50

December 15, 2013

 

 

                                                 

Conventions for Communal Harmony in Western UP

 

Subhashini Ali

 

IN the wake of the terrible communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and the resultant polarisation not only in Western Uttar Pradesh but in many parts of North India, the CPI(M) state committee decided to hold a series of Conventions for Communal Harmony in as many districts as possible.  Very successful conventions have been organised in Khanpur, Bulandshahr (December 7), Muzaffarnagar (December 8) and Jalalabad, Bijnor (December 9).

 

More than 500 people attended the convention in Bulandshahr which was presided over by Chand, chairman, Khanpur.  The convention was addressed by Surinder Singh (CITU), D P Singh (state secretariat Member, CPIM) and Subhashini Ali. In Muzaffarnagar, more than 200 people attended the convention which was inaugurated by Jagmati Sangwan, general secretary, AIDWA.  She spoke about the conditions of women in rural Haryana and Western UP which are characterised by a very adverse sex ratio, seclusion and violence encouraged and perpetrated by extremely patriarchal, casteist and communal social structures like khap panchayats.  She condemned the efforts of the Hindutva forces in communalising the issue of violence against women and the constant harassment that young women and girls have to face and said that this is actually depriving women of both communities of their rights and making them more vulnerable to violence.  Veteran communist leaders, Haji Iqbal and Shri Dhir Singh Shastri jointly presided while the district secretary of the CPI(M), Shyam Veer Rathi conducted the proceedings.  Mehboob Khan and Ajmalur Rahman who are prominent organisers of the camps for displaced Muslim families spoke of the sufferings of the homeless and the extremely unsympathetic attitude of the state government and the administration which is more interested in driving people away from the camps than in taking care of their minimum requirements.  Amreesh Kumar, an active proponent of secular causes from Hardwar attended the convention with his supporters and also spoke.  D P Singh and Subhashini Ali also addressed the convention.

 

In Jalalabad, Bijnor more than 400 people attended the convention which was addressed by Rampal Singh, district secretary, CPI(M), D P Singh and Subhashini Ali.  In all the conventions, D P Singh and Subhashini Ali spoke of the machinations by the Hindutva forces that have been concentrating in Western UP for the last six months and have been deliberately whipping up tension and clashes over minor incidents involving members of the two communities.  This has been done keeping the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in mind.  The BJP decision to project Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate and to send Amit Shah to oversee its election preparations and campaign in the state have given a tremendous impetus to this campaign of communal polarisation. The highly emotive issue of Muslim boys either befriending or harassing Hindu girls has been used to inflame passions in a very effective and extremely ugly way.  Most unfortunately, the state government has completely failed to deal with the situation.  Some minority leaders also behaved in an irresponsible manner and this administrative failure and political opportunism was exploited to the hilt by the Hindutva forces which succeeded in provoking the terrible attacks on Muslim homes and families on September 8.   The need of the hour was to ensure that these events were not repeated.  It was now necessary to reach out to people in towns and villages the vast majority of which had remained completely peaceful in spite of provocations and incitement by the Hindutva forces and restore unity and amity.  The violence had taken a terrible toll not only of those rendered homeless and those who had seen their family members brutally killed and assaulted, but of ordinary working and trades people.  The peasantry, specially cane growers, had been the worst sufferers.  The struggles of the cane growers of Muzaffarnagar which were the outcome of the unity of Hindu and Muslim peasants benefited their fellow cane growers all over the state.  Today, the communal divide had rendered them ineffective and all over the state, cane-growers are being denied fair prices and clearance of their dues.  Some of them have been forced to commit suicide.

 

The response of the participants in all three conventions has been encouraging and the Party will continue in its efforts to build solidarity between communities.

 

REPORT  FROM 

MUZAFFARNAGAR

The two member CPI(M) relief committee for Muzaffarnagar comprising of D P Singh and Subhashini Ali visited Muzaffarnagar on December 7-8.  Just before their visit, on the 6th, shocking reports of the district administration attempting to forcibly evict the riot affected from relief camps were received from those in charge of the camp at Loi and were also widely covered by the electronic and print media.  Along with the CPI(M) national leadership, the relief committee members contacted the district magistrate and also prominent Samajwadi Party leaders and, as a result, the police force and administrative officers left the Loi camp.  Unfortunately, in the early morning, they succeeded in dismantling a smaller camp at village Dhandera, PS Sikheda.  About 25 families were left without shelter.  Many of them lost their cots and tents because the administration took them away.  They have now been forced to find shelter with people in the neighbourhood and in other camps.

 

After the committee members reached Muzaffarnagar, they met many of those who are actively organising the relief camps, lawyers, social workers and others.  The information that they were given is very disturbing.  The conditions in the camp are extremely precarious and, despite repeated requests, the state government is not providing any essential services, medical, sanitary etc, or rations etc.  Its entire emphasis is on trying to get the victims to leave the camps.  In one camp at Jaula, more than 50 babies have been born since the first week of September.  They have been delivered by women in the camps or in private nursing homes.  There has been no government help whatsoever and this is true of all the camps.  There are reports of several children, especially infants, dying in the camps due to the cold.  One child died on December 6 at Loi camp.

 

Payment of compensation to the dependants of those killed has been made but it is being denied to dependants of those who have been missing since September 8.  The SP government in 1995 had paid compensation to the dependants of 5 persons in Kanpur whose bodies were never recovered and recently the Uttarakhand government has paid a similar compensation.  In both cases, those receiving the compensation have signed affidavits that if the missing persons return, they will give back the amount received but, in the case of Muzaffarnagar, this precedent is not being followed.  The 5 lakhs compensation being paid to those who are homeless is also not being done in a fair and just manner.  Many are being denied this amount all together and, in other cases, extended families of parents and several sons with their own families are being treated as one unit.  There are also cases of persons who have not been able to go to the police station to register cases of arson because of fear and threats.  The administration has adopted a very negative approach to these genuine problems.

 

Another very disturbing feature that was reported concerned the lack of action taken against those accused of murder and rape.  Till date, not a single accused of rape or gang rape has been arrested.  Many of those accused of murder have also not been arrested.  Those who have, have all been released on bail by the district court within a few weeks of their arrests.  All this has, naturally, made people extremely reluctant to return to their villages and their faith in the administration and judiciary is at an all-time low.