Muzaffarnagar: For Kin of Those Missing, the Wait is Far from Over

Five years since Muzaffarnagar riots, The Quint visited families of the missing and heard them recount the horror.

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"My husband pleaded them to not kill him. He was willing to even work for them. But they hacked him and burnt him. The police say he is missing because his corpse was never found," the 70-year-old widow's eyes glisten with tears as she narrates her ordeal.

It has now been five years since the Muzaffarnagar riots shook Uttar Pradesh. People have slowly moved on with their lives. But like the widow's husband, about 15 people have still not returned home. They have been listed as "missing" in the government's statistics.

Five years since Muzaffarnagar riots, The Quint visited families of the missing and heard them recount the horror.

On 27 August 2013, more than 60 people lost their lives in Muzaffarnagar, and more than 50,000 people became homeless. The police put out two lists – one naming the dead, and the other naming those who went missing.

On the fifth anniversary of the riots, The Quint visited the families of those who went missing, and here’s what we found out.

The Pain of Losing a Mother

The Quint met Dilshad, who was forced to take his family and run away from Lisadh during the riots.

My mother’s body was never found, but the police told me that my mother is dead. They showed me her belongings. But we never heard of my father. The police declared him missing. Why has the government till date not taken action against those who killed my mother?

Father Could Not Take it When Mother Went Missing, He Passed Away

We went to Shamli in our search of the families of missing people. We met Ayub in Shamli. Ayub's mother is missing. He said that he had been trying relentlessly to find his mother since the past five years, but to no avail. Not being able to withstand the shock, his father passed away.

Ayub also thinks that the police is trying to save the culprits, and hence, they are refusing to declare his mother dead.

The police is not declaring my mother dead because everything is before them. They are trying to save the culprits. The police is trying to spread the narrative that nothing happened there. Everyone ran away from there. If the culprits are caught, the police will have to face a lot of pressure. The authorities are also silent. Everyone knows. But people are being declared missing.

‘What Will We Do There Now?’

We met Ruhisuddin in Shamli's Kandhla. Ruhisuddin's father has also been missing since the riots. But Ruhisuddin says that his father was killed right before him by the people of Lisadh village, and still nobody did anything about it.

About the prospect of going back home, Ruhisuddin says:

What will we do there now? Even the house is in ruins now. Those who killed will be right before us there. Where will we go? How will we live? Now there’s no point going back.

(Translated by Mekhla Saran)

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