Administration working overtime to close all the relief camps

Lucknow : The Uttar Pradesh government and the ruling Samajwadi Party may not have to face queries about riot relief camps’ inmates anymore — simply because in a few days time there will be no one left in the camps, which themselves will disappear.
Till Friday (January 3), the district administration of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts had closed down 43 camps and, at present, only 257 families are still staying in two camps at Barnavi and Malakpur villages in Shamli. The clearing up of the camps comes within two weeks of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the camps on December 22, after which he asked the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure safe return of riot-hit people to their homes.
A few days later, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad, too, visited the camps and expressed concern over the condition of these camps.
Now, there being only a few inmates, not many politicians are likely to visit the camps, saving the Akhilesh Yadav government the embarrassment of facing uncomfortable media reports.
Incidentally, in November 2013 the state government had informed the Supreme Court that out of 50,955 people who had taken shelter in the camps, 41,000 had returned home.
On December 29, state Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had reiterated that the inmates of relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli must go back to their villages and the administration of the two districts had swung into action to execute this order. The temporary structures at many camps were bulldozed, forcing the inmates to leave. The inmates have not been given any alternative abode even as the government said some vacant government buildings would be converted into temporary shelters for them.
Now the district officials are working overtime to close all the relief camps following fresh instructions by the state government. But, the families still residing in the camps are reportedly concerned about their safety.
The camps were set up in the aftermath of the Hindu-Muslim riots in Muzaffarnagar in August-September 2013. According to official statistics, 61 people died in the riots.
Officials were trying to convince people in the Barnavi and Malakpur camps to leave, he added. An official said it was found that some people had no genuine reason for staying in the camps. According to an estimate, majority of the inmates had received the compensation but did not want to leave the place, “but their stay in the camps was not justified,” an official added. However, he admitted that people were still worried about their security as many of the people accused of instigating riots were not arrested.
Some voluntary organizations and Muslim community organizations working for the welfare of the inmates of the camps said that those leaving the camps did not have anywhere to go. “Most of them have decided to stick together and put up tents near the city or on the roadside as they dare not go back to their villages.” It is reported that about four dozen people including women and children from the Loi camp had taken shelter at the Neem Kheri bus stand.
On Thursday, leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Swami Prasad Maurya and BSP leaders Nasimuddin Siddiqui, Ram Achal Rajbhar, Munkad Ali and Kadir Rana visited the relief camps at Kandhla, Malakpur, and Barnawi and Sanjak in Shamli district. Maurya had alleged that the state government was “forcibly” evicting people from the relief camps in severe cold conditions.
On the same day, senior officers of the state government had visited the camps in Muzaffarnagar to convince people to leave.

Ratan Mani Lal

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