MUZZAFARNAGAR CONTINUES

Text and Images by Ruhani Kaur

 The man who delivered milk to Fatima's house was one of the men who raped her when the riots broke out. “My daughter was there when it happened. She still remembers everything very clearly,” Fatima recalls. Till today there has not been a single conviction in the seven cases of gang-rape that did get reported, during the communal violence in 2013. All the alleged rapists were Jat men and were known to the victims.   

The man who delivered milk to Fatima's house was one of the men who raped her when the riots broke out. “My daughter was there when it happened. She still remembers everything very clearly,” Fatima recalls. Till today there has not been a single conviction in the seven cases of gang-rape that did get reported, during the communal violence in 2013. All the alleged rapists were Jat men and were known to the victims.

 

On 7 September 2013, at a massive gathering in a village outside Muzaffarnagar city, Hindu leaders from the dominant Jat community addressed a crowd of over 100,000 people. They had gathered to discuss the recent killings of two Hindu men in an altercation with Muslim men. Slogans of “save your daughters” were raised and inflammatory speeches made, allegedly by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, instigating Hindus to take revenge for the killings.

The gathering was followed by an outbreak of violence in the neighboring districts. Over 60 people were killed in the clashes, which ended only after three days. Thousands of Muslim families were forced to flee their homes and take shelter in relief camps. A few days later, reports of targeted sexual violence against Muslim women also began to surface… Eventually, seven women came forward to report that they had been gang-raped, all by men from the Jat community. To date, there has not been a single conviction in any of the cases. The survivors continue to live in a state of fear and insecurity, skeptical that they will ever get justice.
— Amnesty’s report: Losing Faith
 The schools are far from where F lives now, she can’t afford to send the kids anyway. She earned three rupees a piece by stitching blankets during winter, but that too is seasonal. “Indirectly, they send people to ask if we are willing to settle the case by taking some money. We decline their offers.” she says. Her trial which began in June 2015 was still in it's evidence stage.

The schools are far from where F lives now, she can’t afford to send the kids anyway. She earned three rupees a piece by stitching blankets during winter, but that too is seasonal. “Indirectly, they send people to ask if we are willing to settle the case by taking some money. We decline their offers.” she says. Her trial which began in June 2015 was still in it's evidence stage.

 A’s plot of land in Fugana, where six of the seven gang-rape victims are from, is now just a pile of bricks. A widow with eight children, her sons dont keep up with her anymore. She had to sell her house, worth about Rs 400,000, for a mere Rs 20,000.  She lost her cattle too, so now she works in a spoon packing company to make ends meet .

A’s plot of land in Fugana, where six of the seven gang-rape victims are from, is now just a pile of bricks. A widow with eight children, her sons dont keep up with her anymore. She had to sell her house, worth about Rs 400,000, for a mere Rs 20,000.  She lost her cattle too, so now she works in a spoon packing company to make ends meet .

 “We are still scared when our men leave home,” D says. “People on behalf of the accused… even threatened us with dire consequences. There is no one to take care of my family if anything happens to me… We did what we thought was correct,” her husband told The Indian Express, after her case ended with the acquittal of the four accused men in January 2016.

“We are still scared when our men leave home,” D says. “People on behalf of the accused… even threatened us with dire consequences. There is no one to take care of my family if anything happens to me… We did what we thought was correct,” her husband told The Indian Express, after her case ended with the acquittal of the four accused men in January 2016.

  “In Fugana, I used to sew women’s clothes but I have been unwell since the riots,” says C. Her husband, who received threatening calls from the father of one of the accused, recalls: “… He also said that if he did not manage to kill me, he would file false cases against me.” When C finally got to testify in court, she told them she could not identify the men who had raped her. Their house stands out in the rehabilitation colony. 

“In Fugana, I used to sew women’s clothes but I have been unwell since the riots,” says C. Her husband, who received threatening calls from the father of one of the accused, recalls: “… He also said that if he did not manage to kill me, he would file false cases against me.” When C finally got to testify in court, she told them she could not identify the men who had raped her. Their house stands out in the rehabilitation colony. 

Many families were denied compensation by authorities who claimed – despite evidence to the contrary - that they were part of a larger joint family which had already received compensation. The Census of India also defines a household as “a group of persons who normally live together and take their meals from a common kitchen”. However several families say that they were denied compensation despite having separate kitchens and often having ration cards indicating that their addresses were different from those of their relatives.
— Amnesty’s 2nd report: Nowhere To Go
  Many plots in the rehabilitation colony are still lying empty 3 years since the riots. Even if people could afford to buy them with the compensation given many who had to share the money with their siblings didn’t have money to build them. Many such families continue to live in rented accommodations.

Many plots in the rehabilitation colony are still lying empty 3 years since the riots. Even if people could afford to buy them with the compensation given many who had to share the money with their siblings didn’t have money to build them. Many such families continue to live in rented accommodations.

  Sajid lives in a make shift tent with his children as he was not given compensation only his brother was. During the survey they considered one main gate as one family even if within it they were individual family units of brothers with their own entrance doors and kitchens. Idhries Baigh, Shahpur in Muzzafarnagar.

Sajid lives in a make shift tent with his children as he was not given compensation only his brother was. During the survey they considered one main gate as one family even if within it they were individual family units of brothers with their own entrance doors and kitchens. Idhries Baigh, Shahpur in Muzzafarnagar.

  Imrana is the wife of Tahir, one of Jahed's four sons each having their own separate family unit.  Yet the surveyors sanctioned compensation only to her father in law recognising them only as one unit of 16 living together.  Idhries baigh, Shahpur in Muzzafarnagar.

Imrana is the wife of Tahir, one of Jahed's four sons each having their own separate family unit.  Yet the surveyors sanctioned compensation only to her father in law recognising them only as one unit of 16 living together.  Idhries baigh, Shahpur in Muzzafarnagar.

  26 year-old Zubair recollects how bodies were being cut with wood cutting machines when he ran from the Lisad Hasanpur.  His 9 month pregnant wife, fell and within 10 days had her son premature. He had to give his wife blood as they didn’t have anything to eat during the last days of her pregnancy. Now he is 3.5 years old. His daughter who was born in the camp died of meningitis. His wife has sewn all her dead daughters clothes into the pillow case on which they sleep. Everything gets stolen otherwise. “No point keeping them though since we wouldn’t have anymore kids now,” she says with a vacant look on her face. They currently live in Fala-e-eam colony in Jaula their room leased to them by the Jamait only for 5 years.

26 year-old Zubair recollects how bodies were being cut with wood cutting machines when he ran from the Lisad Hasanpur.  His 9 month pregnant wife, fell and within 10 days had her son premature. He had to give his wife blood as they didn’t have anything to eat during the last days of her pregnancy. Now he is 3.5 years old. His daughter who was born in the camp died of meningitis. His wife has sewn all her dead daughters clothes into the pillow case on which they sleep. Everything gets stolen otherwise. “No point keeping them though since we wouldn’t have anymore kids now,” she says with a vacant look on her face. They currently live in Fala-e-eam colony in Jaula their room leased to them by the Jamait only for 5 years.

  Kurbaans wife Momeena was 8 months preganant when the riots broke out in their village Fugana, in western UP near muzzafarnagar in 2013. When their neighbour Assu got murdered they had to flee. The family piled up in two bhaggis leaving everything they owned behind. All momeena took was the holy book. Later they went back with the police to get there belongings, only their sandook and cupboards had been left behind, emptied. The rehab colonies have no livelihood possibiities, no sanitation, no electricity. Those with bhaggis now use them to get some vegetables to sell. Manover Hassan , Kairana rural.

Kurbaans wife Momeena was 8 months preganant when the riots broke out in their village Fugana, in western UP near muzzafarnagar in 2013. When their neighbour Assu got murdered they had to flee. The family piled up in two bhaggis leaving everything they owned behind. All momeena took was the holy book. Later they went back with the police to get there belongings, only their sandook and cupboards had been left behind, emptied. The rehab colonies have no livelihood possibiities, no sanitation, no electricity. Those with bhaggis now use them to get some vegetables to sell. Manover Hassan , Kairana rural.

A version of this story appeared on "www.theladiesfinger.com" on February 20, 2017.