Muzaffarnagar violence: Few choices on flight to safety

FrontA truck brings fleeing villagers to Kandla, one of a handful of places where they feel safe. Ravi Kanojia

For the hundreds still fleeing their homes, there are only that many options. The selection of a destination depends on the distance from their own village, the numbers of their own, and now places where aid is being provided.

Most are heading to Dharampur, Kandla, Basai Kalan, Khairana and Badwala. Officials say several have also moved out of the district to Meerut, Baghpat and Saharanpur. Some have even moved to Kharad and Dongar villages, where they have been promised protection by Jat elders.

For the 25,000 people who have now taken refuge in Kandla, aid is being provided by villagers. "We are being given food and water by Badrul Hassan, who runs the madrasa, and Wajid Hassan, a community leader. But there is very little space to sleep at night, and the government has made no provisions. Many of us have to sleep without any shelter, and it is especially hard for the children," said Akbar Ali, who has moved to Kandla from Lisad.

Another village that has turned a refugee camp is Khairana. "We hid in the fields of Kutba for a week, and fortunately avoided any attackers. On Tuesday, we spotted a family moving to Khairana. They told us there was a large number of Muslims there, and we would be given provisions. We left our belongings behind, and are surviving on the food we are getting from the residents," said Liaqat Ali.

Samiullahah, who runs the madrasa in Khairana, said, "There are at least 5,000 people here from villages in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar. We have put them up in whatever building we could. There has been no support from the government yet and people in this town and surrounding villages are donating essential supplies."

Sadiq Ismail of Lakh village has moved to Basai Kalan, 35 km away. "Our house was torched minutes after we escaped. We spent a few days at the Foghana police station, and then we asked the police to escort us to Basai Kalan," he said.

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