Muzaffarnagar riots: Tales of tragedy and destruction unfold in refugee camps

People in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar left their houses fearing the worst, and are now in relief camps. (IE Photo)
Lisarh represented all that was good in Muzaffarnagar, dubbed the sugar bowl of India. It had the prosperity arising from the region's agrarian boom, and in its demographics, it had two communities living and working together in peace.

Haji Samiuddin, 65, of Lisarh represented all that Muzaffarnagar could have been. Having toiled in his fields for decades, he had ensured his children got a good education and saw them become owners of a saw mill. The family business was booming, and they were thinking of expanding.
Samiuddin and his wife are now dead, killed and dumped inside their burning home. And Lisarh, a village that was on the cusp of becoming a town, will now never be the place it was.
Samiuddin's eldest son Saeed Hassan remembers each detail of the last time he met his father. It was the morning of September 7. Things had been worsening, and they had heard of the Jat mahapanchayat being held that day in Sakheda, 35 km away. "The Jats have gathered in lakhs. Our friends are leaving and so should we. These are dangerous times," Hassan had said.

Samiuddin found this incredulous. "We have lived here all our lives, half the youngsters here have grown up sitting in my lap. Nobody will harm us here," he said.
Hassan says he told him that it was no longer about the villagers. "This is about politics and things we are not connected to."
However, Samiuddin insisted on staying. "You go son, you have your children to think about," he said. "You mother and I were born here and come what may, we will die here."
His mother Hamida, age 58, had added, "I cannot leave your father's side. Jahan bhi jao khuda to sab jagah hai (Wherever you go, god is everywhere)."

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