LUCKNOW – Feeling ignored in makeshift camps for months, thousands of Muslims in Muzaffarnagar are intending to boycott next month’s parliamentary elections, seeing them as bringing no hope to their shattered life.
“Time has passed but our wounds are still fresh,” Rahima of Shahpur village in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh in India told OnIslam.net.
“Lok Sabha (Parliament) elections are due for next month, but we know our condition is not going to improve even after that.
“The political leaders weren’t around to help us in time of need and crisis during and after riots. But at the time of elections, they look to us for votes. We somehow saved ourselves and are now living in temporary camps,” she added.
Rahima is just like thousands of Muslims in Muzaffarnagar and its adjoining areas for whom temporary makeshift camps have become their permanent address after the riots erupted in September last year.
For them Lok Sabha elections in India do not bring any hope. More than 65 people were killed and 70,000 displaced in one of the worst riots witnessed in this part of the country last September. Majority of those who died were Muslims.
Athar Khan is also living in a temporary camp.
He wants to forget that particular evening when he was forced to flee when a mob attacked his house.
He left his home along with his wife and two children without any belongings and since then this small hut has become his home.
When he was reminded about the elections, he told OnIslam.net, “We have lost everything and nothing is left for us. What will we gain by casting vote or favoring any political party?”
“Will they help us if they come to power? I don’t think anyone is going to change our situation except Allah (Almighty),” said Athar, who is still looking for some permanent job for survival.
There are more than 200 families living in the makeshift camps and they have no plan to return to their homes, which they left following communal riots.
The state and the Union governments had announced compensation and jobs for those affected. But more than 2200 families are still living in makeshift camps.
For those who lost their families in the riots, elections were meaningless.
One of those heartbroken Muslims was Masood Ahmad, who lost one of his kids while living in the camp in December last year due to extreme cold.
“We are ruined financially and have nothing to look forward to. We have to start a fresh life from scratch. I don’t know how we will move forward from here,” he said.
“Our children are not able to study and we don’t have any money to start anything. Even getting a permanent job is a difficult thing nowadays. We are living without any basic facilities and don’t think help will come from any quarter.
“For us this general election holds no meaning,” Masood Ahmad added.
In this part of Western Uttar Pradesh, elections would be held on April 10, 2014 for ten Lok Sabha seats (constituencies of lower house) including Muzzafarnagar, Shamli, Sahranpur and Bagpat.
But the situation this time is totally different with people not ready to support anyone openly.
Adding to their woes, two of the accused Members of Parliament (MPs) have been given ticket by their political parties to contest Lok Sabha elections, namely, Hukum Singh and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Kadir Rana.
Both Hukum Singh and Kadir Rana were among 16 politicians, who were charged for inciting violence in Muzzafarnagar town in September, 2013.
Hukum Singh of the Hindu-nationalist BJP is contesting election from Kairana constituency. He is protesting against the enrolment of riot-hit people in the voter list. He said that those in relief camps are not at all entitled to vote and they are “trespassers.”
He is expected to make a complaint to the Election Commission against these people if they are allowed to vote.
Hukum Singh said that these people have been asked by the state government to leave the relief camp and return to their houses. But they are still living without any authority and legally cannot vote.
There are many displaced Muslim families who are not at all interested in using their right to vote during the elections. They have lost all faith in political parties and their activities.
These Muslims believe that even if they vote nothing is going to change for them, so it is better not to vote.
“We have decided to keep away from elections. We have seen all the political parties and no one is available to help us when we need them,” said Inam, who fled his village Sisauli after the riots.
“So no point in voting for such politicians,” he added.
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