September 29, 2016
MUZAFFARNAGAR RIOT VICTIMS IN KAIRANA PAINED
AT BEING LABELLED CRIMINALS BY NHRC
DEMAND APOLOGYBY NHRC AND WITHDRAWAL OF THIS REPORT
The findings of NHRC’s investigation into the so-called ‘exodus’ of families from Kairana town, Shamli District (UP) because of increasing crime, was made public in a Press Release of Sept 21, 2016. We are deeply dismayed and shocked, as this report is based on dubious facts and makes prejudiced and communally charged assumptions, blaming the very riot-victims it should seek to protect.
We therefore call upon the NHRC to provide evidence for these ‘findings’ and, failing to do so, to apologize and withdraw this prejudicial report, which amounts to labeling and stigmatizing of an entire community.
Findings of NHRC’s investigation as contained in its Press Release,
in Point 12 states–
“At least 24 witnesses stated that the youths of the specific majority community (Muslims) in Kairana town pass lewd/taunting remarks against the females of the specific minority community in Kairana town. Due to this, females of the specific minority community (Hindus) in Kairana town avoid going outside frequently. However, they could not gather courage to report the matter to the police for the legal action. ”
Point 18, states:
“In 2013, the post-rehabilitation scenario resulting in resettlement of about 25/30 thousand members of Muslims Community in Kairana Town from district Muzaffarnagar, UP, the demography of Kairana town has changed in favour of the Muslim Community becoming the more dominating and majority community. Most of the witnesses examined and victims feel that the rehabilitation in 2013 has permanently changed the social situation in Kairana town and has led to further deterioration of law and order situation.”
1. Blaming desperate riot victims for criminality without citing any credible and independent evidence is unworthy of the NHRC. First, we demand factual evidence of NHRC’s figure of 25-30,000 Muslim victims having settled in Kairana town. The communal onslaught in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, had initially displaced over 75,000 Indian citizens. A 2016 report -Living Apart: Communal Violence and Forced Displacement in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli– based on detailed ground research, found an estimated 50,000 still scattered all over Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, and other districts, of which nearly 30,000 victims were in IDP (internally displaced people) colonies, never able to return home, dealing with traumas from loss of lives, homes, histories, schools, friends, livelihoods and neighbors. Of these, 270 families (approximately 2000 people) settled in Kairana Town. As citizens of India, they have every right to do so, and they deserve the empathy and support of the state, their fellow citizens and of human rights bodies like the NHRC towards full and comprehensive rehabilitation. Displacement from the villages and towns of their birth due to hate violence is extremely painful, and rather than assist them, what the NHRC report has in effect done is double victimization by labeling them ‘criminals’ or as people whose presence “has led to further deterioration of law and order situation.” Kairana Town already had a Muslim majority, and the addition of mere 2000 riot-victims has not made them “more dominating.”
2. Declining law and order or criminality in any area may cause people to migrate, and if so, it is the state government’s job to act. But criminality does not have a religion or a community. It is disgraceful for the NHRC to communalize this alleged law and order problem in Kairana town by casually pointing the finger of blame at those who are themselves victims displaced by the Muzaffarnagar violence of 2013. It is a matter of grave concern that our premier human rights body in a public document should speak so loosely and irresponsibly, based only on what unnamed witnesses said they “feel”, and libel and stigmatize an entire community of Indian citizens as criminals. What is the evidence for such shocking statements?
3. We also seek justification for an NHRC investigation into a discredited issue. Why has it chosen to closely study a list of 346 families supplied by a political party with a clear stake in communalizing the atmosphere ahead of the UP polls? The list was falsified after investigation by credible newspapers. The Hindu report (June 17, 2016) said, “Out of the 346 families listed by Mr. [Hukum] Singh [BJP MP from Kairana], the Shamli administration has probed 119 of which it found 68 had left Kairana 10-15 years ago for employment, business, education of children, health and other services. Four persons on the list are dead, while 13 families were found still living in Kairana.” The Indian Express report (June 16, 2016) says, “BJP list of ‘Hindus’ forced out includes those who died, migrated for better job.” Yet, this bogus issue was considered worthy of investigation by a 4-member NHRC team.
4. We are dismayed at the double standards for citizens that the NHRC clearly applies. The large-scale displacement because of communal violence of over 75,000 persons from the villages of their birth because of the communal attacks, killings, rape and arson in Muzaffarnagar in 2013 has not resulted in any investigation or actions by the NHRC. Yet, among its recommendations on the so-called “exodus” of less than 350 people is:
“A high-level committee of the Govt. of UP may be constituted to meet each of the displaced families from Kairana Town now living in districts Dehradun, Panipat, Muzaffarnagar, Roorki, Karnal, etc. of Uttarakhand and Haryana in order to redress their grievances and facilitate their return to Kairana, if so desired”.
We ask what the NHRC did to monitor the rehabilitation of over 75,000 citizens after their violent exodus from Muzaffarnagar in 2013, and if the NHRC ever proposed a similar high-level committee “to meet each of the displaced families “to redress their grievances and facilitate their return?
5. We ask why the NHRC is legitimizing the worst kind of communal stereotyping and rumour-mongering about eve-teasing byyoung men of one community, directly feedingfalse notions of ‘Hindu community honour’being under threat, which has been used as the pretext for numerousprevious incidents of communal violence, including most recently in Bijnor. If indeed the NHRC thought this a fit subject for commentary by an apex statutory institution for human rights, the least it needs to do is base its conclusive statements on actual crime records, steering clear of communally charged assumptions.
We demand from the NHRC:
1. A withdrawal of this libelous and false‘investigative’ report.
2. An apology to victims of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal violence, who settled in dire circumstances where they could, including some in Kairana Town, for this vilification from India’s apex human rights body.
3. Monitoring of their safety and security in kairana.
Press Statement issued by:
Muzaffarnagar Riot-Victims living in Kairana, with
Harsh Mander, Aman Biradari (Delhi); Akram Chaudhury, Afkar India (Shamli);
MadhaviKuckreja and Mamta Verma, Sadbhavana Trust (Lucknow); and
Farah Naqvi, independent writer and activist (Delhi)