ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Wages of Communal Violence in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli

Three years after the communal carnage in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in Uttar Pradesh, in which close to a hundred people died and an estimated 75,000 were displaced, thousands of survivors have not been able to return to their villages. Even those not directly affected, who fled in the wake of the violence, continue to live in slum-like conditions without basic services. The Aman Biradari team that surveyed these affected villages concludes that the permanent divisions between communities who once lived together peacefully represent the triumph of communal politics.

Hate violence alters the course of people’s lives forever. Years, decades, even generations pass after hate violence is unleashed on targeted families and communities, but their suffering does not end. It divides, impoverishes, scatters and embitters them in ways which are imperfectlyunderstood and rarely tracked.

In September 2013, in the two districts of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, a toxic hate campaign—claiming that Muslim boys were enticing Jat Hindu girls in a “love jihad”—led to violent murderous attacks on Muslim settlements of mainly poor agricultural workers. A people who had never fought each other in history suddenly became bitter enemies, estranged, fearful and angry. “Not even during the Partition riots of 1947 did a drop of blood flow in our villages,” the survivors repeatedly told the Aman Biradari team. When the violence ended in 2013, nearly a hundred people had died, women endured sexual violence, thousands of homes and livelihoods were burnt down and ruined and large numbers of people had resolved never to return to the land of theirancestors.

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