(India Today) Even as savagery and hatred blinded people in Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring districts over the last weekend, all does not seem to be lost. As two communities bayed for each others’ blood, many examples of compassion, sane thinking and brotherhood stand out in the violence that killed 43, injured more than 90 and left a staggering 43,000 homeless.
In reports collected from the countryside of western Uttar Pradesh by the special task force (STF) and the local intelligence unit (LIU) of the police, there were many village seniors who prevailed upon the “young and the mad” that spilling blood was no solution to any problem.
A Jat family in violence-hit Fugna village gave shelter to seven Muslim families in their home, despite overpowering protests by others, and asked its family members to keep a watch by positioning themselves on roof tops, armed with lathi’s and axes. The family of village head Brijendra Singh Malik, police officials said, protected 70 Muslims and warned rioters to keep off the men, women, children and elders who had taken refuge in their house.
He also informed the district administration of the refugees and ensured that they were escorted to safety by police personnel. In the same village, the former village head, Choudhary Vedpal Malik, transported 50 people to safety Monday.
Officials said that in the Gadh-Muzaffarnagar-Shamli area of the Baliyan Khap, made famous by the panchayats of late farmer leader Mahednra Singh Tikait, only a few stray incidents of violence were reported from Purbaliyan.
“The fact that the Hindu-Muslim population in this area is almost equal and anything could have happened in the spur of the movement but better sense prevailed is incredible” Additional Director General of Police Arun Kumar said.
Saluting the spirit of the people to ensure peace and calm, intelligence reports cite the example of Sanjeev Baliyan, village head of Dulheda village who, alongwith 20 others who hold arm licenses, held fort for more than four hours and did not allow 200 rioteers to enter the village. By his act of compassion and sheer bravery, he saved 40 lives.
Another case of patience and maturity was in Muhammadpur Sakist, where despite the killing of a Hindu youth, the villagers saved the sole Muslim family in the village and safely took it to a relief camp. Officials said that while Shamli was largely peaceful, it sat on a powderkeg of rumours for a long time. Despite this, in Peerkheda, the village seniors ensured that the 400 Muslims among the 3,000 residents were safe.
And the examples of compassion and humanity did not end with the Hindu population as many Muslims too showed exemplary courage and doused the fires of communal rage that threatened to engulf the long-standing harmony in the area.
In Shahpur, Sanavar Mohammad responded to the pleas of a mechanic Devendra Singh, caught in the middle of a rioting mob of Muslims near a mobile tower and took him to safety.
Amid gutted shops, abruptly abandoned homes and the errie silence in these areas, in Badagaon on the Muzaffarnagar-Badhana road, the 80-year-old village head ensured with the help of the madarsa staff that police reinforcements rushed to the village and the army was allowed in.
In Meeranpur, villagers of both communities took out a peace march on Thursday and appealed to people to give up hatred and let life limp back to normalcy.
Life in Budhana area of Meerut similarly was brought back to normal at the initiative of the village elders, after which the shops were opened and commercial activities started after a five-day break.
Locals said the blame squarely lay with politicians and the government. While the leaders went around delivering incendiary speeches at public meetings, the state government looked the other way, a village elder in Fugna alleged.