Four years on, Muzaffarnagar riot survivors await damages: Amnesty

At least 200 families displaced after the 2013 communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts of Uttar Pradesh are yet to get compensation and are living in squalid conditions in resettlement colonies, Amnesty International India said on Friday.

At least 60 people were killed and over 50,000 displaced in the violence in the two districts.

According to Amnesty International, these families displaced from villages after the riots four years ago have been denied the Rs 500,000 in damages promised by the Uttar Pradesh government for reasons ranging from “clerical errors, corruption to inconsistent definitions of a family”.

“With nowhere to go, these families found refuge in resettlement colonies with the assistance of non-governmental and religious institutions. But the Uttar Pradesh government let the families down by not ensuring basic amenities,” Amnesty International India Programmes Director Asmita Basu said in a statement here.

She said a survey was conducted by Amnesty International India and AFKAR India Foundation, an NGO based in Shamli, of 12 resettlement colonies, where the survey team met 65 families between August 2016 and April 2017 and analysed the documentation of 200 families.

“About 82 per cent resettlement colonies — developed for riot victims — in Muzaffarnagar and 97 per cent in Shamli do not have safe drinking water, and 61 per cent of such colonies in Muzaffarnagar and 70 per cent in Shamli do not have drainage/sewerage facilities,” the statement said.

The Census of India defines a household as a “group of persons who normally live together and take their meals from a common kitchen”.

However, several affected families said they were denied compensation despite having separate kitchens and often having ration cards indicating that their addresses were different from those of their relatives.

“We have met many families denied compensation because the state started clubbing many families as one joint family. How are four brothers who left their land, their house — everything they owned — and are married and have children, expected to live with Rs 500,000?” questioned AFKAR India Foundation Director Akram Akhtar Chaudhary.

Amnesty International India said it has launched a petition to demand that the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister ensure that the families lodged in resettlement colonies received adequate compensation and rehabilitation, including immediate aid towards housing, water, sanitation, and healthcare.

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