Families Affected By 2013 India Riots Still Not Compensated

An Amnesty International report has found that over 190 families displaced because of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in India have not received compensation. The report found that inconsistent definitions were applied to the term family to deny compensation to families. These families, in many cases, are continuing to live in temporary camps and have limited access to basic resources, such as water and electricity. The riots, which took place in Muzaffarnagar and spread out to neighbouring villages in the state of Uttar Pradesh, were fuelled by Hindu-Muslim tensions and resulted in over 60 deaths along with the displacement of 50,000 people.

The state government of Uttar Pradesh promised that it would give a one-time compensation of 500,000 rupees to families from nine surrounding villages that were deemed to be the most affected by the riots. Despite these promises, Amnesty International, by visiting 12 resettlements between August 2016 and April 2017, found that over 190 families had not received compensation. In response to the findings of the report, the state government is purported to have stated that it followed all of the rules and had given compensation to those affected by the riots, according to Arijit Sen, an Amnesty International researcher who worked on the study. The report alleges that many families were denied compensation because it was claimed by authorities that they were part of a larger joint family which had already been compensated. Even in cases where families had given evidence that they lived in separate households from others, they still did not receive compensation.

With the lack of promised compensations to the families identified by the Amnesty International report, it is evident that there are significant governmental issues in providing important services to its citizens. Their quality of life has been affected very negatively by the violence of the riots as it has led to widespread property damage, displacement, and loss of human life, including the family members of those whose lives have been transformed. This systematic failure further worsens the conditions of marginalized and impoverished peoples and can perpetuate already existent sectarian tensions, which can be exploited by groups seeking to further a platform of religious hatred and bigotry. To more effectively address the underlying tensions that can lead to riots and massive destruction, it is important to address the conditions that make such occurrences more likely to occur.

The Muzaffarnagar riots emerged on September 7, 2013. The riots are linked to troubles that began after the harassment of a Hindu Jat woman by a Muslim man. On August 27, the man was killed by two brothers of the woman, who were themselves killed soon after. According to reports, the riots that followed worsened after the emergence of a video clip showing a mob slaughtering two boys. Despite the clip being refuted by the government, it is still in circulation and many remain skeptical of the government. Many blame politicians for inciting violence, and the political parties themselves blame other political parties of starting the riots. Overall, the violence and destruction of the riot has been stated as the worst in India in a decade.

It is clear from the riots themselves and the failure of the governmental responses to those who have been the most affected by the riots that there are practices being used that can further fuel sectarian tensions and worsen the quality of life of those who need assistance. Leaving so many families without promised compensation, despite them providing evidence that they are families, weakens social cohesion and leaves the region more vulnerable to further outbreaks of violence.