MUZAFFARNAGAR: The UP chief minister may have given himself five stars in a government report about the state of the Muzaffarnagar riots relief camps, but the pictures don’t lie. This girl, Saiba Khatun, spends her day at the relief camp under a tent that is flooded and breeds insects and illness, waiting for her parents to return with some food and the hope of good news. But, as the Mail Today team which visited the Loee camp found, both are tough to come by.
In another tent close by, Irfana Khatun has been unwell since the second week of September, when she along with her family fled Muzaffarnagar’s riot-hit Fugana village and took shelter in the Loee refugee camp. The 30-year-old was pregnant at that time but she couldn’t dare to go to a doctor outside the camp for fear of being killed by rioters. On November 21, she gave birth to a girl with the help of other refugee women.
The newborn child couldn’t bear the brunt of UP government’s apathy and the winter cold and died two days later.
A team of doctors visited her for the first time on December 7 after reports of deaths of over 40 children in different relief camps at Muzaffarnagar and Shamli because of the lack of health services and cold weather. The medical team gave Irfana 10 tablets of paracetamol and suggested that she return home.
“They scolded me for living in the relief camp and said I was not entitled to any financial assistance because my husband didn’t have a ration card. They measured my body temperature and gave me some tablets. But I am still ill,” she told Mail Today on Friday.
When MAIL TODAY visited her, a foul smell in her tent suggested that it had not been cleaned for many weeks. Yet, only two days ago, CM Akhilesh Yadav’s report on the state of riot relief camps made it sound like all was rosy.
Yadav had claimed that “perfect arrangements” had been made at relief camps for the families displaced after communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining districts.
Also, in a report submitted to the government recently, Saharanpur Commissioner Bhuvnesh Kumar noted that clean drinking water and proper medical care had been made available to the families living in the relief camps.
The Mail Today team saw the entire area was water-logged after unexpected rains last week. The temporary sewer lines were open and toilets overflowing. While a piped waterline has been installed in the area, there are no fixed timings for water supply; the families complained they couldn’t drink the water because it smells foul.
“Now doctors visit and scold me every day. But they didn’t come here in November to save my child. Government officials also come here to tell me that either I should return to Fugana or they would throw me and my children in the Loee canal,” alleged Irfana, who has four children.
Her husband, Yaqoob Shaikh, frequently visits district collectorate to claim government’s financial assistance.
There are about 450 refugee families, comprising 3,500 individuals, who are still living in the Loee camp. Their stories are the same.
According to an estimate, over three dozen people are currently suffering from high fever.
Doctors have given them only paracetamol.
Mehrana alias Tabassum (15) has also been suffering from fever for one month. While her parents went to the town on Friday to arrange for food, she was left behind to erect their fallen tent.
“Our tent falls every day. Last night, there was drizzle and we all stood outside because the tent was leaking and then fell on the ground. I catch cold frequently,” she said.
Sharda Khatoon said fear still looms large and they cannot dare to return home. “ Nearly 70 per cent victims whose houses were damaged have not got any compensation. Even if someone has five sons and all of them live separately, the government has given compensation to only one member who has a ration card,” she said.