Their homes lost, riot-hit victims unite to rebuild lives on their own

MuzaffarnagarRiot victims who fled their homes work to build a new, 100-house colony in Khampur village in Muzaffarnagar. (IE Photo: Gajendra Yadav)

As the Congress and BJP continue to play their game of political football with the riot-hit people of Muzaffarnagar, the victims of the communal violence have begun to quietly rebuild their lives-on their own.

Ten kilometres away from the district headquarters town, in a place called Khampur, a cluster of brick buildings is coming up on land donated by local Muslims-the new home for families who fled from their villages as clashes broke out over a swathe of western UP early last month.

At least 130 men, all refugees who escaped with their families, have been toiling hard at the site every day since October 6. Once completed in a few months' time, this settlement of 100 houses will be the first permanent colony of the victims and survivors of the riots in the district. Similar colonies are in the pipeline in Bassikalan, Kamkheda and Khedi Firozabad.

"I fled from Badal village with my family on September 9 and lived in the Budhana refugee camp until early this month," Imamuddin Hassan (46), said. "We were then offered a house, free of cost, in Khampur as long as we helped build it, and we readily agreed. I have nothing left in Badal, and I never want to go back."

The driving force behind the Khampur settlement is the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, which is bearing the cost. Boards at the site announce the 'Jamiat Colony, Khampur'. Nazar Mohammed, president of Jamiat's Muzaffarnagar unit, said the organisation was forced to step in after the government failed to provide relief.

"The government has refused to help for two months now and we could not wait any longer. We spread the word to all villages and Khampur led the way," Nazar Mohammed said.

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