NEW DELHI: About 16,000 of the 200,000 people who left or lost their homes during the bloody communal riots in 2002 in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Gujarat continue to lead a miserable life in 15 relief colonies without any basic amenities.
A volunteer of Jan Vikas, a non-government organisation which recently organised a protest demonstration of the riot-hit people, mostly Muslims, in Ahmedabad demanding a permanent roof over their heads told reporters that though water and electricity were not available in the colonies for the past 12 years, they should at least be given ownership of their current ramshackle dwellings.
According to Hozefa Ujjaaini, programme co-ordinator of Jan Vikas, the state government had not set up relief camps for the displaced families but Muslim NGOs had come to their rescue.
However, said Ujjaaini, the hard-pressed colony residents live under constant fear that they may lose the roof over their heads any day.
Jan Vikas, which had published a detailed report in 2012 about the wretched life of the riot-affected people in 83 refugee camps, claims that the land on which these colonies were set up was either illegal or belonged to private trusts, which means that people living in these colonies don’t have access to basic facilities like water, electricity and gutters.
Indeed, in the absence of any address proof, the families have no access to the many beneficiary schemes for the have-nots.
Earlier this week, they submitted their list of demands to the deputy collector and had also sent a copy of the same to the chief minister, the governor and the human rights commission.
“We can’t even go back to the place we stayed earlier before the riots because we are witnesses in many riot cases and the accused are out on parole. Hence we fear for our lives,” said riot survivor Abdul Sheikh who lost his wife and six children in the violent Hindu-Muslim clashes.
Last week, another local NGO, the Jan Sangharsh Manch, along with the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Niswan and Anhad had also held a joint protest demonstration in Ahmedabad demanding justice, rehabilitation and compensation for the victims of the communal violence.
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