Muzaffarnagar: Fearing more clashes, families flee homes in affected areas
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The clashes in Muzaffarnagar have triggered an exodus in the area. Under constant threat for two days, families on Sunday abandoned their homes with just the clothes on their backs and children in their arms, to move to villages that offer them a semblance of security.
In Kharad, about 45 km from Muzaffarnagar, at least 70 families huddled together on tractor-trolleys, bullock-carts and horse-carts on Sunday evening, awaiting police escort. "We heard of violence across the region and we don't feel safe in this village, where we form less than 10 per cent of the population. We will move to either Purbaliyan or another village where we have relatives," said Mohammed Haneef, one of the villagers.
Accompanied by his wife, children and at least 15 relatives, Haneef said they hid in the fields for the last 24 hours. "We somehow made it to the main road that leads to Shamli on Sunday afternoon, where there was heavy police presence.
Now they will escort us to where we want to go," he said.
Police, PAC and CRPF personnel have been deputed on "escort duty". "We found several families along riot-hit stretches and brought them all together and called for support," said an officer. He added that a riot vehicle and a police jeep formed the vanguard while a CRPF bus brought up the rear.
Sources in the police and district administration said Muslims formed the overwhelming majority of residents fleeing their homes. "We came across only Muslims who were trying to flee their homes on Sunday. In this particular stretch east of Muzaffarnagar, they are outnumbered by Jats," said a senior officer.