Muzaffarnagar riot victims shifting from a relief camp in Loi village
It housed over 300 families at one point of time, but now has only 70-odd families left. The Loi relief camp in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar district has witnessed a dramatic exodus over the past 48 hours. The camp was the last government-recognized relief shelter for those displaced by the deadly communal riots that ripped through Muzaffarnagar in September. But after having resisted, what they allege are the government's attempts to evict them for so long, these people finally gave in.
"I think some sort of pressure is being exerted on those who run the camp. For the first time, they are telling us to leave," said Moumin, who along with his sister, Moumina, was leaving the camp. They have 12 children and a disabled father in a 20-member joint family to take care of. But the most unsettling part is they are clueless about their future.
Many others, though, have refused to leave the camp, fearing they may be cheated out of their compensation - the Akhilesh Yadav government has promised Rs five lakh to the riot-affected to help them rebuild their lives.
"We will only leave when we get our compensation," said Pushpa Saifi, a mother of three.
District officials, though, claim that people shifting out of the camp is just a part of the rehabilitation process.
"167 families have been paid compensation and they left. The remaining families will also leave gradually. We are not abandoning them. They have been given a week's ration and we are keeping track of where they go," said Indramani Tripathi, Additional District Magistrate, Muzaffarnagar.
But a visit to one of the locations where some people had 'resettled' revealed a grim sight.
Only a few of the 70 families which had set up camp just three kilometres away from the one at Loi had been given ration. Officials said others, too, would be given supplies the next morning. But till that time, these families would have to spend another cold, winter night, this time without any food and water.