A Thunderbolt from the sky..A thunderbolt that could make change.A Thunderbolt that will tear apart the black clouds of imperialism and communalism that had covered India.Yes change is inevitable..Change will Come..
A delegation of AIDWA [comprising Sehba Farooqui (Gen Secretary,
Delhi), Madhu Garg (President, UP), Seema Rana (Secretary, Lucknow),
Asha Sharma (Working President, Delhi), Anjana Jha (Treasurer, Delhi)
and Maimoona Mollah (Vice President, Delhi)], visited some of the camps
set up for the riot affected people in Muzaffarnagar on October 5, 2013.
The delegation met a large number of violence affected women in the
The delegation first went to Jogiakhera, a village in
Tehsil Budhana. Most of the affected people here are from village
Fugana, one of the worst affected villages. Fugana is a village in this
tehsil with a population of about 20-25 thousand. Muslim population
there is about 3500. The attack happened on the morning of September 8.
There are 5 reported cases of rape (all gang-rape) from this area – all
of Muslim women.
The delegation then went to another village,
Loyi, where there is a camp housing about 3700 people from many villages
- Hisad, Lakh, Bahavdi, Kharad, Fugana, Hasanpur, etc. 80% of the
people in this camp are from Fugana.
The delegation also heard
the background in which the incidents happened which confirmed many of
the details that have already been reported in the media. This report
mainly focuses on the impact on women in the violence affected areas.
Muzaffarnagar has often been in the news for the wrong reasons
primarily because of its dismal record with regard to women's status.
Sex ratio is an abysmal 889 females per 1000 males. Child sex ratio is
even more pathetic: 863/1000. Female literacy is only 58.69 as against
the average literacy rate of 69.12. Most girls are not able to pursue
their studies beyond matriculation; only the very fortunate ones are
able to go to college.
Muzaffarnagar is an area where women
have been targets of sexual harassment (some reported but most of these
incidents largely unreported). Girls of both communities suffer sexual
harassment and the perpetrators of the crime also are from both
communities. Nor is it the case that the perpetrator and the victim need
necessarily belong to different communities. But this reality has been
deliberately covered up in the recent build up to the violence.
Muzaffarnagar district also has the dubious distinction of having the
highest number of “honour” killings in UP, an average of between one to
two killings a month. The ‘khap’ panchayats have especially been active
in cases of honour killing and women of both communities have been
targets of violence in different ways.
Some of the currently
affected villages- Fugana for example which is the centre of communal
killing and rape, have witnessed such honour killings in the past. It
was in the same village- where rapes of Muslim women in this communal
attack have occurred- that had seen the stripping and killing of a
young Hindu girl by her community in 2006, a victim of “honour” killing.
The point here is that the deeply patriarchal and anti women concept of
so-called honour has made victims of women of both communities.
Today, young girls of both communities are greatly affected – they fear even going to school or college.
It is a measure of the criminal and cynical planning of the communal
forces that they deliberately chose an issue of so-called honour in an
area known for “honour” killings to incite communal hatred and organized
a communal carnage in the name of bahu-beti bachao ostensibly to curb
sexual harassment in the area. One incident was given a communal colour
by the BJP/RSS which is actively working in the area to polarise people
on communal lines. The result was the worst incident of communal
violence the area has ever seen, in which it was the Muslim minority
community which suffered the worst violence, and muslim women were
Sexual Assault • Regarding cases of
sexual assault: there were 5 cases of rape reported to the delegation –
in 4 cases FIRs have been registered but no statements have been
recorded under Sec 164 which is mandatory for the filing of a
chargesheet. In two of these cases no MLC was done. So far not a single
person has been arrested, even though these are named reports. • The
delegation was told that there have been many more cases of sexual
assault and molestation but women and especially young girls who were
the victims are too shocked to speak.
The delegation met almost all the victims who have registered cases of rape.
Cases of Sexual Assault (all the names have been changed)
1. Saba w/o Saleem: Saba’s husband is a hawker who sells cloth. On the
8th morning, the attackers (Badlu, Nilu and Amardip) came with knives,
held Saba and all three of them raped her and killed one of her
brothers-in-law with a knife. Then, while they went to bring petrol to
burn the house, Saba and family escaped and came to Jogiakhera. 2.
Sameena: Around 10 am Rupesh, Ramvir and Bhim came, raped her and burnt
her house. The assaulters threw out her 2y old daughter who was injured
in the process. 3. Qudsia: Around 2 pm, five boys, all her
neighbours came – Sunil (s/o Sadhu), Devender (s/o Harpal), and Ramesh
(s/o Virma), Ramkumar (s/o Patvari) and Joginder (s/o Pradhan). Ramesh
tore her clothes, Sunil, Devinder and Ramkumar raped her. Qudsia tried
to run but they pulled her back. When she resisted they banged her head
against the wall which incapacitated Qudsia. Around 4 pm the force came,
rescued her and brought her to Loyi village. 4. Farida w/o Salman:
Farida was making rotis when they came at 2 pm. When she tried to run
they pulled her back by her plait. Farida then hid in the pen, but the
attckers saw that and almost throttled her. They were 5 boys – Sachin,
Vedpal, Shani, Ajit and Yogesh. Sachin and Vedpal broke her shalwar
strap and raped her. Before the others could come forward, Farida ran
towards the jungle and came to the Madrasa in village Loyi. 5. Salma w/o Nasir from Fugana. 6 people raped her. She is currently recuperating in the hospital.
6. Sabeena from Fugana: Sabeena narrated the plight of her family. When
the rioters came they were shocked as they had no inkling of an
impending attack. She said that she and both her daughters aged 16 and
22 were molested and told to stay back, but Sabeena’s family did not
stop. The attackers burnt the house; Sabeena and family ran and reached
Jogiakhera through the jungle route. Saleema from Khera Mastan said
though they were not attacked but they ran out of fear.
rape survivors we met told the delegation that they recognised and
identified the rapists, knew their names and had courageously registered
FIRs against them. Yet none have been arrested, mocking their trauma
Missing Children There have been many cases of
parents losing their grip on the children who were running with them.
The children have since gone missing and so far there are no efforts by
the administration to trace them: • Mohammad Altaf is a hawker; he
sells cloth. While he was running after the riots broke out, he lost his
grip on his 5-year daughter who fell down and is now missing. • Naeem’s 5-month child Rehana was in his arms, but while running she fell down. The child is missing.
• People are now scared to go home. The added trauma for women is that
their assaulters were people from their own village. There is thus a
feeling of terror and insecurity which is preventing them from going
back to their village homes. • Unable to go back home, these
families living in camps are now homeless. Those who are not in the
camps and are living with other families as in Jogiakhera, there is
added trauma of adjusting with other families while waiting for
Health Issues • Considering the fact that the riot affected people are in deep trauma, there are no counselling centres for them.
• The victims including pregnant women and victims of sexual assault
are having to go to Shamli District hospital for treatment. • Living in open tents for long has its own health hazards and towards that the administration has so far paid no attention.
• Most of the camps have been set up and managed and taken care of by
concerned citizens. UP government ought to step in and provide relief.
• The insecurity continues - there is palpable tension in the area and
there seems to be no effort from the administration towards easing of
tension. • We got a feedback from camp managers that they would
require tarpaulin to cover the tents. Therefore, AIDWA has provided
tarpaulin to about 65 such tents.
Planned Attacks • The
attacks were pre-planned. BJP/RSS captured the mahapanchayat, made
communal speeches, and orchestrated communal conflagration. Most of the
attacks are reported to have started in the morning on the same day -
Sept 8th 2013. • The people attacked are poor and backward caste
Muslims – Sheikh, badhai, lohaar, dhobi, julaaha, nilgarh (rangrez),
qureshi, teli... ‘Marshal Muslims’ – upper caste Muslims – Mula Jats,
Rajputs, Tyagis were not in the main, the targets. The victims were
working in the fields/ enterprises of the attackers. This was probably
one way of showing the workers their place as it were; to keep them
subdued. • Only in one area, Joli there were casualties from both
communities. In the rest of the places, it was one-sided - Muslims were
Role of Administration and the Ground Reality •
The administration was unresponsive. There was failure / inordinate
delay in their action which caused both human and material casualties.
• It was also reported to the delegation that whoever among the police
officers worked impartially to uphold the rule of law, was transferred.
• Though some of the BJP leaders including their MLA have been
arrested, many of the rioters are still not arrested adding to the fear
psychosis of the victims. • Those who killed Gaurav and his brother also have not been arrested so far.
Urgent Steps Required • Expedite all cases of rape, murder and arson. º Arrest all those guilty of communal attacks and violence.
º Take urgent action on all the cases of rape. Arrest all those named
by the women. Record victims’ statements under Section 164. º Arrest killers of Gaurav and his brother.
• Send a team of women counsellors from trained agencies and
representatives of women’s organisations to the camps and affected areas
to meet the victims who can bring them out of the trauma they are in.
The counsellors would also be able to instil confidence in the women to
speak up about the violence meted out to them during the riots. • There still is palpable tension in the area. º To ease the atmosphere the government of UP should initiate concrete confidence building measures immediately.
º People are scared to go back to their homes. The government
therefore should help create a conducive environment for people to
return. • UP Government should step up relief measures and continue this until the affected people are rehabilitated. • UP Government should chalk out a rehabilitation plan for the victims of the communal violence and implement it immediately. • Since most of those attacked are poor Muslims, there is an urgency to provide the means of livelihood to them. • The UP government should reinstate those officers who were abruptly transferred because of their impartial approach.
To follow up on the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of
violence and the progress on the many cases of sexual assault, the
delegation plans to meet the Chief Minister of UP.
Azra Khatoon is a nine-year-old girl from Baori village in UP’s Shamli
district adjoining Muzaffarnagar. Her family comprises seven sisters and
three brothers. Azra’s family was among those attacked during the
September 8 riots in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining Shamli. Her
seven-year-old cousin sister, paternal grandmother, and uncle (father’s
brother) were killed in the riot. Her mother and five-year-old sister
were injured after they were shot at. They were being treated at Shamli
government hospital and later at Muzaffarnagar District Hospital.
Azra’s suffered a deep cut on her stomach and more grievous and damaging
injury on her right hand after she was slashed by a sickle.
Accompanied by her father and maternal grandmother, she is currently
being treated at the Trauma Centre at the All India Institute of Medical
Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, after being referred from the Muzaffarnagar
District Hospital. Luckily, there was no organ damage and her wound
on the stomach is healing. But, doctors are worried that she may not be
able to move her right hand (wrist onwards) ever again. The AIIMS
Trauma Centre has promised to bear the cost of her treatment at the
hospital. The Uttar Pradesh government, too, had come forward to help
Azra’s family. Little Azra is currently in a lot of pain and unable to speak much but has expressed the desire to study further.
AIDWA, Delhi, is assisting with the coordination of her current
treatment and further rehabilitation. In Baori, Azra was studying in
Class IV at the local government school. The family has lost their
entire belongings and will urgently require financial assistance,
particularly for her care.