30 days and counting…
MAIN OBSERVATIONS & CHARTER OF DEMANDS
Government of Uttar Pradesh
By the Joint Citizens’ Initiative (JCI)
comprising women’s rights activists, health and medical professionals, and lawyers from
Nirantar (Lucknow & New Delhi), Rehnuma-Sanatkada Samajik Pahel (Lucknow), Sahayog (Lucknow),
Sama (New Delhi) and Vanangana (Chitrakoot).
The team was supported for report writing by independent women’s rights activists (JCI, Delhi & Lucknow)
Follow up visits towards this report and towards helping survivors are continuing…
Lucknow, October 11, 2013
At the time of writing, several credible fact-finding visits by activists, academics, and concerned citizens from across India have taken place to the violence affected districts of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. We wish to acknowledge these reports and endorse many of their recommendations.1 Now, a month after the violence, it is time to move beyond recommending to pressing for these demands, for the situation on the ground, over 30 days after the first incidents of violence (September 8th, 2013), is so grave that the State must act now.
Internally displaced people are still living in camps. A few are leaving in desperation, but not always returning home. The possibilities of securing State accountability for its abdication become weaker with each passing day. FIRs are being filed, but many accused are not being arrested. Camps are still being run by citizens and not the State. Reports are coming in of deaths in camps (many of them children) due to illness, poor hygiene, and the complete lack of medical care. The aftermath of violence in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli is similar to what we have witnessed in Gujarat 2002 and in Assam in 2012. Reparative justice is miles away. The death toll maybe counted, and minimally compensated for as ex-gratia, but the scores who have lost everything else, are left scattered to the winds. Their life’s meagre belongings taken from them; family members still missing; homeless and without livelihoods; their properties usurped and their mental and physical health destroyed; the possibilities of rebuilding lives, remote and fragile. And no one is held accountable for this slow destruction of lives. The State continues to be in denial.
- Listening to women voices: The JCI (Joint Citizens’ Initiative) is a collective of activists based in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Mumbai, many of whom are continuing to work in the relief camps. Our focus in this summary of observations and charter of demands is the immediate needs of survivors, especially women.
- Camps visited: Bassikalan Madrasa Camp, Kamalpur Camp, Tavli Madrasa Camp, Shahpur Madrasa Camp, Jogi Khera Camp, Shahpur Madrasa at Haji Ala Sahab’s residence, Husainpur Camp, Loi Camp (Muzaffarnagar district), Kandla Eidgah in Kandla village (Shamli district),.
- Villages visited: Phugana, Lisarh and Kutba-Kutbi villages in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts.2
- The team met survivors, members of management committees of relief camps, and local residents from both Muslim and Jat Communities.
A. Women’s continuing security concerns and the spectre of ‘panic marriages’:
At a time when the nation is outraged about the security of women across the country, the State of Uttar Pradesh is failing to provide even a minimal sense of security to women in the relief camps, who have already suffered so much, and fear so much.
Naseema (Munni) w/o Naseem Ahmad from village Kutbi told the team that her sister-in-law and brother-in-law were killed by people known to them in Kutbi. Her extreme sense of insecurity has forced her to marry off her two daughters whose marriages had been fixed before the violence. She has also shifted her two minor daughters to a relative’s home as she feared for their safety.
The uncertainty of life in the relief camp, and the remote possibility of returning to their villages has pushed many women to get their daughters married. Security of young girls is an enormous weight on the minds of parents; they are being seen as a liability. In many cases, the marriages are clearly seeking to shift the burden of responsibility from the parents to the husbands, because the girls who are being married are simply moving from their ‘natal’ relief camp to another camp where their husbands are located. The camp organisers are taking care of some expenses for the weddings. According to newspaper reports, till September 25th, 31 marriages had been solemnised in various camps. 162 marriages were reportedly solemnised on October 7 and 72 marriages on October 4.3
B. Sexual violence: Women seek justice
In the immediate aftermath of violence, women in camps who spoke openly of the general pattern of violence, destruction of property, loss of loved ones, and their continuing fear, fell silent on the issue of sexual violence. Young adolescent girls were particularly reluctant to speak. So, at first fact-finding reports only alluded to the possibility of violence against women during the communal violence. A news website then ran several reports of sexual violence,4 one initial fact-finding report spoke of meeting two women survivors of gangrape,5and subsequent reports recorded many further testimonies.6
Today, despite the high premium on notions of ‘family and women’s honour’ and the consequent enforced silences around sexual assault, women in the camps are not only speaking, they are actively seeking justice. Atleast 5 FIRs on sexual assault have been filed. Many more women in the camps spoke to this team about sexual violence of varying degrees and said they wanted to file FIRs, but had not done so yet. Specific testimonies of sexual assault were given by survivors from Village Lisarh (in Shahpur camp) and by survivors from Village Phugana (in the Jogikhera camp), Muzaffarnagar district. But along with pursuit of justice, we are also witnessing the familiar pattern of pressures on women and family members to withdraw complaints.
|6 women from Phugana, district Muzaffarnagar, have filed FIRs. 2 of the complainants have not received the registered copy of the FIR. The details of FIRs on sexual assault are available:|
1-Offence: Sexual Assault, Date of Incidence: 8.9.2013 Time of Incidence: 10.30 am
FIR Lodged on: 29.9.2013 Time of FIR: 2.30pm Police Station: Phugana while the FIR was lodged at Budhana Under Sections: 147, 148, 149, 452, 352, and 376(D) IPC Accused Persons: Neelu s/o Krishna Pal, Badlu S/o Rajendra, Sunil and Vinod
No arrests were made till 3-4 days ago. Statement under 164 CrPc has not been recorded yet.
2 – Offence: Sexual Assault, Date of Incidence: 8.9.2013, Time of Incidence: 10.30am, FIR Lodged on:15.9.2013, Time of FIR: 2.30pm, Police Station: Phugana under Sections: 395, 397, 427 and 376(D) IPC Accused Persons: Jogendra, Sunil, Ramesh, Vijendra and Ramkumar all residents of Phugana village
No arrests were made till 3-4 days ago. Statement under 164 CrPc has not been recorded yet. The medical examination has taken place. The survivor is from Phugana village, Tehsil Budana and is currently residing in a camp.
3- Offence: Sexual Assault, Date of Incidence: 8.9.2013, FIR Lodged on: 29.9.2013, Time of FIR:1.00pm, Police Station: Phugana, Under Sections: 147, 148, 149, 452, and 376(D) IPC Accused Persons: Mahendra, Rupesh, Prahlad, Rambeer, Rajendra, Kuldeep, Dhamsingh, Sunil, Bramh Singh, Subash, Anil, Naresh, Sukhbeer, Sudhir and Rajpal all residents of Phugana Village.
No arrests were made till 3-4 days ago. Statement under 164 CrPc has not been recorded yet. The survivor is from Phugana village, Tehsil Budana and is currently residing in a camp.
C. Health Conditions in the Relief Camps
A range of health problems were documented / examined in the camps, including: diarrhoea, amoebiasis, cold and cough, viral fever, conjunctivitis, scabies, dermatitis, infected small wounds and ear infections. Many children were observed with scabies and dermatitis and there was a possibility of spreading the infection to others in such crowded camps (among children); headache, body ache, anaemia, backache, chronic bronchitis, constipation, dermatitis, conjunctivitis, loss of appetite, gastritis, amoebic dysentery, acidity and stomatitis, (suspected) tuberculosis. Serious injuries, wounds were also observed and mental health issues including depression, anxiety, fear, post trauma stress disorder (PTSD) were also observed (among adults). Most pregnant women were already anaemic and underweight and the situations in the camps would only aggravate their health status / conditions. Similarly, with mothers who had delivered in the camps more attention needed to be paid in terms of food intake to meet their nutritional needs, along with iron and calcium supplements. No ANM, no gynaecologist nor any woman doctor from the government facility had visited and examined them. Antenatal and postnatal care was completely absent in the camps. Women were suffering from various problems like Leucorrhoea, micturition, fever and Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and Anaemia.
|In Loi camp of Muzaffarnagar district, there have been eight deaths since the last week of September. These include (i) an elderly person who died of suspended cardiac arrest, (ii) a four-day old child whose mother had fever, (iii) five children with diarrhoea and fever, (iv) a 14 year old girl who had severe bleeding during menarche; she was taken to the hospital, but it was too late. Currently there are 67 pregnant women residing in the camp.|
Deliveries- No separate space for women who recently delivered was available in the camp and they were living in tents, without any assistance from any skilled birth attendants or an ANM. No Post Natal Care (PNC) related services were provided to them.
Newborn Health Issues- The newborn babies were mostly of low birth weight. No immunization services were provided to the new born and infants in the camps. And no provisions were made for supplementary feeding of infants.
Child Health- Among children observed many were suffering from common cold (coryza), fever, dermatitis, conjunctivitis, ear infections and respiratory infections, diarrhoea and skin diseases. The team could observe anaemia and chronic malnutrition symptoms in few children. There were many cases of skin infections like rashes, warts, abscess, scabies observed.
Mental Health Issues- Assessment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and provision of counselling, crucial in a post-riot situation, remained neglected. In general, stress and trauma manifested in both physical and psychological symptoms. People expressed helplessness, fear, insecurity, anxiety, agitation, fatigue, lethargy and depression.
D. Access and availability of Health Care services
Government negligence in terms of health services and health care delivery system was apparent in almost all the camps visited. Medical facilities in term of human resources, drugs and expertise were inadequate, ad hoc and with poor standards; local primary health centres (PHCs) and community health centres (CHCs) were not proactively involved. Neither doctors nor ANM/ Lady health supervisors, dressers or staff nurses from the PHC/ CHC were available to address / treat health problems in the camps. Despite the urgent need for a woman doctor, gynaecologists and paediatrician, none were deputed to provide health care services in the camps. Basic medicines like analgesics i.e. paracetamol, diclofenac sodium, antibiotics like co-trimoxazole, and anti-allergic like cetrizine were available but not sufficiently. Parenteral drugs like IV antibiotics, IM antibiotics, saline, dextrose and IV anesthetic drugs were completely absent at almost all places. These are necessary in the context where many severely injured patients are residing in the camps. There was no apparent coordination among the local health authorities and the few health personnel working in the camps. Medical professionals (in one of the camps, camp organizers) had different attitudes to people’s health needs and were completely apathetic, rude and unskilled for the situation. There were no reliable systems for emergency referral. No ANC and PNC care has been provided. No prevention measures towards the outbreaks of infectious, water-borne diseases have been taken. No counselling for PTSD has been observed.
E. Women still looking for loved ones
A girl at Tavli camp, Shahpur (Muzaffarnagar) spoke of her brother who is mentally challenged and was left behind in the village during the violence and chaos of their forced displaced. She has no information and she believes he might be dead. A couple from Dulehra Village living at Islamiya madrasa camp at Shahpur have been separated from their 16 year old daughter during the attack. These are just two of the many testimonies about missing persons gathered by the team. The state administration has provided no help or support to trace these missing people.
When women lose key family members, sometimes husbands, and other supportive familial structures in such violent circumstances they may have few alternative means to access help. Many women we met have been separated from their husbands, children and other family members. They have often lost all means of communication with those lost, some of whom were not in the village at the time of violence. Many women did not have access to phones; in many cases they do not remember the contact numbers of their family members and other relatives; leaving them with no means to trace their whereabouts. They live in daily terror that their missing family members have been killed and buried without trace. There is no systematic action on this by the state administration. No attempt to reach out to women, who have been widowed, or otherwise left alone, with no social support. There has been no investigation, or circulation of lists of missing persons in each camp. Nor any effort to reunite families, if still alive.
F. Damage to education
In Jogikhera Camp in Muzaffarnagar, the managing committee has arranged access to a room in a nearby village, so that families in the camp can help their children resume studies. Since many camps are being run in residential madrasas, the academic calendar of the madrasas has gone haywire. For example, the Islamiya madrasa at Bassikalan, which is now a relief camp, has not held regular classes since the violence began.
In a gesture of solidarity, the management of Chanakya Academy, a private school in Shahpur, Muzaffarnagar has offered free education to all the class X and XII children of the Islamiya madrasa in Shahpur, which is now a relief camp.
Many women in the camps are anxious about the loss of their children’s education, and destruction of young lives. Especially worried are those young people, boys and girls who have to take their board examinations at the end of this academic year. Many have sought help to recover their books and documents so that they can resume their studies. At Shahpur camp a team from Darul Uloom Deoband had come offering free education along with free lodging and boarding facility to the displaced children. Many parents agreed because they had few other options left. As a result of the violence, more children are likely to shift from mainstream education to madrasa based education. Young girls shared their fears of their education being cut short forever; because for their families at the moment the priority is security of the girls and not their education.
G. The ‘women’s question’ in the relief camps:
The State is not running any relief camps visited by this team in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts. Concerned citizens and Muslim community members are cobbling together resources to help people somehow survive in terrible conditions. Invariably, the specific needs of women are gravely affected, since socialization ensures that in post-violence emergencies of this nature, it is men from the community who take decisions, gather resources and plan, as best they can, the running of the camps. Women are visibly absent from camp committees, and play no part in decision making related to distribution of scarce resources – rations, blankets, medicines. In most camps, there are no separate enclosures or bathrooms for women. Women’s health issues are not a priority for the management committees (indeed some members of relief camp managing committees admit that this issue does not occur to them as a serious concern). As the administration of the camps was completely controlled by men, women were left with little choice but to turn to them, sometimes total strangers, for their most basic needs. They were facing difficulties during menstruation due to non-availability of clean clothes and sanitary pads, causing them to use old clothes instead.
H. Compensation and Documents
There continues to be complete absense of a comprehensive State-led rehabilitation and compensation framework or plan. Apart from ex-gratia for next of kin of those killed, and compensation announcements for those injured, there is hardly any other pro-active measure.
The government announced jobs to the families whose members have been killed in the violence, and some young people have filled up forms for the jobs, but have not received any response yet. There is no clear information on compensation entitlements, for loss of many forms of bodily injury, loss of property or principles for assessment for such losses. No officer of the state is helping women access any of these entitlements. In many cases, loss of documents and identity papers, as well as absence of bank accounts is an enormous hurdle. One woman whose husband has been killed could not cash her compensation cheque as she did not have any identity documents – her ration card (or other identification) was left behind in the house when they were attacked. In another case, the survivor did not have a bank account and no means to open an account.
|Information received from government records in Muzaffarnagar district on 9th October 2013|
Even as the state makes these claims, the Joint Citizen’s Initiative is continuing its efforts to help survivors seek justice and reparations.
A Human Tragedy Unfolds, as the State Watches, Preliminary Citizens Report, (UP & Delhi) Sept. 20, 2013; Evil stalks the land, Anhad, Delhi, Sept 24, 2013; AIDWA report, Delhi, Oct.8, 2013.