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Politics of Riots and Social Service of Rehabilitation

When government fails to execute its duty, community steps in to rehabilitate riot victims

By Mumtaz Alam, IndiaTomorrow.net,

New Delhi, 26 Feb 2015: Communal riots and rehabilitation of their victims have got a set trend in the last 60 years of Independent India – the first is executed by politics and the second is generally left for the affected community to do. Irrespective of which party or political idea is running the government, riot victims have got almost similar treatment. “Whether it is Gujarat, Assam or Uttar Pradesh, situation is same everywhere. For rehabilitation of riot-affected people, government generally does not execute its duty,” says Mohammad Shafi Madani who has overseen relief and rehabilitation work for riot victims in the three states in last 13 years.

Last week, a colony constructed under his guidance in Muzaffarnagar was opened for the Sep 2013 riot victims. Gujarat native Madani is Secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind which has constructed the 88-house colony in Parsoli area of the Uttar Pradesh district. He executed Jamaat’s relief and rehabilitation work in Gujarat and Assam also. In an interview with IndiaTomorrow.net, he talks about attitude of the government post riots and why and when the community steps in to help the victims.

Why does community step in to rehabilitate victims?

For rehabilitation of the affected people following a communal riot, government generally does not execute its duty. Whether it is Gujarat, Assam or Uttar Pradesh, situation is same everywhere. Gujarat had BJP government – we saw the government did not compensate the 2002 riot victims the way it should have. Assam was ruled by Congress, but the same thing happened there. And similar was the case in Uttar Pradesh (which was and is ruled by Samajwadi Party) – it did compensate but not all affected families. For example, in a house, a father was living with three sons. The house was destroyed and they can’t live there. The government has given Rs 5 lakh to father. If he lives with one son then what about the other two? How can a house be built in Rs 5 lakh? There are many others who have not got any compensation from the government. There are some areas where houses have not got affected but the people who fled during the riots cannot go there and resettle there. The government did nothing for their protection and safe return. The overall situation is that the government did not execute its responsibility. It was government’s responsibility to rehabilitate the affected people. But the government has not done it. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has always been doing welfare work. That is why the Jamaat thought to rebuild this colony for those riot victims who have no alternative. Jamaat wanted to rehabilitate them so that they restart a better life.

Is rehabilitation of victims in a new place an ideal choice?

No, it is not our ideal choice. It has not been so anywhere – neither in Gujarat nor Assam nor in Uttar Pradesh or anywhere. First we want and make all efforts that displaced people are restored at their original places. For quite some time, a new tendency has been noticed during the riots – displacement of a large number of people. People living in a place for years and centuries have their roots there – their homes, business, land. When they are displaced then at least one generation is not in a position to stand on their own feet in a new place. This is not our job (to rehabilitate such victims in a new place). We have tried it everywhere that people are restored at their old places.

In Assam, we were able to restore around four lakh people. In Gujarat, we took around 12,000 families to their old places. We made the same effort here (Muzaffarnagar) also. Our first effort is that they should go to their old places and re-establish themselves there. We think (and our experience tells) that they can prosper fast at their old places. In new places, prosperity does not come soon. Just out of compulsion, we rehabilitate such people in a new place. We always try that they go back to their old places. But only when we feel that some people can never go to their old places and they have no alternative then we rehabilitate them in a new place. That’s why some people may say Jamaat comes late for rehabilitation and construction of new houses (for riot victims), but this is our policy and we work according to our policy.


women and their children inside the Falah-e-Aam Colony constructed by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind in Parsoli area of Muzaffarnagar

Tell us about the Falah-e Aam Colony that Jamaat has constructed in Muzaffarnagar.

We have built this colony for the riot affected people from different villages in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. We have provided them homes in this colony. This colony consists of 88 houses. We had bought eight bighas of land from a Hindu villager. Each house has cost us around Rs 2.6 lakh. It has been developed in a systematic way. The foundation of each house is so strong that two stories can be built over it. Besides houses, the colony will have a mosque (which we are going to construct soon), a community centre and a primary school. We have bought a separate piece of land for the purpose of graveyard for the inhabitants of the colony. We also have a plan to open a mini ITI so that the residents of the colony, the villagers and people from the surrounding areas irrespective of religion could take benefit of it, their children could get good education and an overall upliftment of the people could be ensured. This is our comprehensive program for the rehabilitation of the victims.

What is the status of ownership of houses for the beneficiaries?

There is a legal term called living in license whereby a beneficiary is given full possession of the property, he can have electricity bill in his own name, but we do not grant him ownership as we have not taken a penny from him. Every amount has been invested by Jamaat. Besides, our experience tells (as we have been doing this relief work for long) that if we award them ownership then they will soon sell it and move elsewhere. Our purpose is to rehabilitate them. If they sell it or rent it out to others then our purpose will not be served. We have prepared a document whereby the house will be in their possession and but the ownership will be with the Jamaat. However, we will consider to grant ownership to them after some years when we are fully satisfied that they will live here permanently.

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