People's Democracy

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


No. 09

March 02, 2014





CPI(M) Provides Homes for Riot Victims in Muzaffarnagar


THE terrible communal attacks that occurred in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts of Western Uttar Pradesh forced thousands of poor, working class Muslim families into an existence of misery, hunger, cold, sickness and complete insecurity. What are euphemistically called ‘tented camps’ lack both the tents and the semblance of order that these words imply.  In open fields and empty ditches, people stuck poles into the ground and hung plastic sheets on them and then crept under them with their families.  None of these camps were constructed or provided with minimum amenities, provisions or medical facilities by the state government. Everything was done by the victims themselves and by local communities and then with help from religious organisations, NGOs and organisations like AIDWA.  Political parties were conspicuous by their absence from relief work.  With one exception.


The CPI(M) was the first political party to send a delegation to Muzaffarnagar on September 12.  The report it submitted on the condition of the victims was horrifying and the Party called on its strongest units to immediately collect funds.  The Kerala state committee, in an inspiring gesture of solidarity, collected 60 lakhs in one day; the besieged and beleaguered West Bengal state committee remained true to its tradition of always expressing its solidarity with the victims of different kinds of tragic events and collected 10 lakhs. Comrades from Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and UP also contributed and the UP state committee of the Party formed a relief committee.


Initially, the committee along with the Muzaffarnagar district committee tried to address some immediate needs.  Blankets, quilts, woollen clothes and professional kits for barbers, tailors, masons etc., were provided. The home of each person killed in the rioting was visited and some small items like sewing machines, shawls etc., were given to their families. But the need for providing permanent shelter to at least some of the families was sought to be addressed.


One of the many camps was situated in Jaula village which is one of the few areas in the district where the Party has a very small presence.  Small, but influential.  Pawan Jain, a leading lawyer, belongs to a family with very strong roots in the area and is greatly respected.  Yameen who belongs to a poor, working-class Muslim family, became a lawyer after much effort and is now not only a member of the “Intizamia” (management) committee of the camp but is also involved in pursuing many of the cases filed by the riot victims including victims of rape and gang-rape.  With the help of these comrades and the pradhan and others, it was possible for 54 riot-affected families to buy small plots of land at low rates in Jaula. And the Party decided to help them by providing materials for construction of small houses.  Each house will be of 120 sq. ft. and will comprise of one room, a cemented roof, a toilet and a kitchen. 


It was decided that this Ekta Colony, would be inaugurated on February 20 by the CPI(M) general secretary, Prakash Karat. The area has been experiencing bitter cold and wet weather for the last few weeks and the brick kilns will only start production at the end of the month. Despite the unfavourable conditions, however, the beneficiaries, including women and small children, went to work on February 17, the first sunny day in weeks. They levelled the land, filled it with mud and unbaked bricks and suddenly the beginnings of a new habitation took shape. When Prakash Karat arrived on the 20th, he was greeted by thousands of people – riot victims, villagers, Party comrades and sympathisers and also local leaders of various organisations and parties.  Women were present in large numbers.  The place was decorated with flags and banners of the Party and, of course, large banners that said “EKTA COLONY”.


A public meeting had been organised at which Prakash Karat was to distribute certificates to the beneficiaries.  Haji Iqbal, a veteran CPI(M) member of the district and Ghulam Mohammad, a prominent peasant leader from Jaula, presided over the meeting which was conducted by Shyamveer Rathi, district secretary, CPI(M), Muzaffarnagar.  A distinguished person on the dias was Shri Basheer who has completed 100 years and is probably one of the oldest living members of the Party. He is never seen without a red flag on his shoulder and has an excellent memory and a strong constitution.  He worked for many years with Comrades Vijaypal Singh and Maj. Jaipal Singh, legendary Communist leaders from this district.


The meeting was addressed by Subhashini Ali who said that it was inspiring that at a time of growing chauvinism in many parts of the country that was fuelled by political parties for narrow considerations and which resulted in attacks on North Indians in Maharashtra and brutality against young men and women from the North East in Delhi, comrades in Kerala and West Bengal had demonstrated their solidarity with the riot-affected in a far off place like Muzaffarnagar about which they  knew little.  She said that the riots had been engineered for political gains by the Sangh Parivar and had resulted in misery and polarisation but people must ensure that their organisers are not rewarded with increased votes and seats.


Prakash Karat handed out the certificates and then reminded the audience of the proud record of the Left led governments in maintaining communal harmony and also politically confronting communal forces.  He said that while corporate houses were projecting Modi as the future prime minister and when the Congress was getting more and more alienated from the people by the day because of its corruption and pro-rich policies and because of the terrible burden of high prices that it was imposing on them, it was the Left that had taken up the gauntlet of defending secularism and democracy and initiating pro-people policies. The CPI(M) in particular was doing everything to bring non-Congress secular parties on a common platform to fight both the BJP and the Congress with a manifesto of alternative policies.  He was confident that this platform would receive the enthusiastic support of the people throughout the country.


Ghulam Mohammed and Haji Iqbal thanked all those who had made the programme an inspiring success.  After this, Karat visited the house sites and also the camp at Jaula.  He was visibly moved and shocked by the conditions he saw there.


The CPI(M) has pledged to provide homes for more families after this project is completed.  It appeals to all its members, supporters and friends to help in this effort.


Bank details of the UP Relief Committee:

A/C CPI(M) Relief Fund

A/C No. 030201052867


Bank – United Bank of India

Branch – Hazratganj, Lucknow