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India: Mass movement on religious lines leads to ghettoization in riot-scarred West UP

Monday 13 June 2016, by siawi3


Sandeep Rai

TNN | Jun 11, 2016, 10.06 PM IST

Photo: Members of another Kashyap family move out of the communally sensitive Shamli district adjoining Muzaffarnagar .

KAIRANA (SHAMLI): A day after NHRC sent notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on exodus of 250 Hindu families from Kairana due to "fear of criminals" belonging to another community, in the communally-sensitive Shamli district adjoining Muzaffarnagar, it’s emerged that it’s not just Hindus who have migrated from Muslim-dominated areas, but vice-versa. Mass movement of families is happening across religious lines and is leading to ghettoization in the region.

"Hindus are moving out from Muslim dominant villages while Muslims are leaving Hindu majority regions," said Rihana Adeeb, director of Astitva, an NGO working for the rehabilitation of riot-displaced Muslim families. As Shamli DM Sujeet Kumar said he had set up a probe panel to look into the exodus of Kashyap families from Kairana, TOI visited one Jannat colony in Kandhla area of Shamli, where the number of Muslim families swelled considerably due to migration from other areas.

"We could feel too much hatred against us. A vicious atmosphere compelled us to abandon our houses and the village and move to Kandhla," said Mohd Ayyub of Jannat colony, saying pretty much what Hindus, who had to leave the area along with their families, said.

Akram Akhtar, programme officer of NGO Afkar India Foundation, said, "We have a list of more than 1,000 Muslim families that moved from their native villages to Muslim-dominated areas in the last three years in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Baghpat districts. The exodus is naturally out of fear."

BJP’s Kairana MP Hukum Singh, however, denied the reports of Muslims moving to other areas. "To my knowledge, not a single Muslim family has moved out of Shamli and Muzaffarnagar districts as they have nothing to fear. However, it is true that Hindu families have been forced to leave their ancestral houses and move out. Kashyaps of Kairana is case in point."

On Wednesday, Singh had produced a list of 346 Hindu families that he claimed had fled leaving their properties behind after they were allegedly targeted and persecuted by another community. The MP said the list mentions only the families of Kairana, and if those who migrated from other parts of the district are included, the number would be more than a thousand.

"This is exactly what had happened in Kashmir. Businessmen are being targeted in a bid to grab their establishments and properties. These people are forced to migrate leaving their ancestral properties behind. And in the hurry, they have no other choice but to sell their properties far below the prevailing market price or just abandon them," the MP said.

Rahul Bansal (name changed), a jeweller in Gumbad locality of Kairana, has had to move his family to Saharanpur after his son was murdered allegedly by a man from the minority community. "The 60% Hindu population in the locality reduced to 30% in a couple of years. We did not feel secure in the area and had to shift to other city," he said.

Sunil Kumar Jain lost his sprawling house in Muzaffarnagar soon after the 2013 riots. "We used to live in Khalapar locality of Muzaffarnagar. It was a Muslim-dominated area. We had to move out of the area due to fear. When we returned after the riots were over, our house had been grabbed by a local muscleman. We have had to sell it off at a throwaway price. Now, we are staying in a rented accommodation in Nai Mandi area," Jain told TOI.