Edit/Op-Ed

Riots-hit Children Faces Education-less Future

Nazneen Haider for BeyondHeadlines

A Tragedy in Progress

Muzaffarnagar, August 27, 2013 – A day that marks the beginning of riots that would last for over two months, killing over 48 people and making refugees out of 50,000 people. This gory communal riot has been described, on record, as being ‘the worst violence in UP in recent memory’and the aftershocks have been witnessed in the the form of the Jolly Canal incident, wherein more than a hundred people have been reported missing. In addition, there have been not less than 13 cases of gangrape and sexual harrasment.

As of today, six months after the riots, the police, the State government and the-powers-that-be are doing what is always done after such sorry incidents. Making a few arrests, issuing warrants against the ‘missing’accused, providing protection to the vulnerable and wronged and, of course, promising the monetary grant for all the affected. All seems to be in control, but is it really? Have we seen and dealt with the crux of this whole mess? Are we doing enough to undo, or compensate for the loss? Are the aftereffects over?

The Real Deal

A picture is worth a thousand words – these wise words of Napolean Bonaparte fit just right to the images we see of the refugees of the Muzaffarnagar riot. The pictures are of children, standing in front of ramshackled tents, barely clothed and fed. How much monetary compensation or protection will be required to help them erase the memories that has scarred them for life?

There are pictures of women, who have lost a husband, a father, a son and have no future to speak of. How well do we suppose will these women raise their kids? What education and qualities will these mothers instill in their child, whilst worrying about where the next morsel of food will come from?

Blame games have never led to any solution, and it will be of no use to say that the destinies of these people have been marred by the rioters. Although, it has definitely pushed them on a speedtrack towards doom.

The Real Tragedy

The people of Muzzafarnagar, or specifically of the Kawwal village, where the riots started, come from a strata of the society where education is not a priority, especially so, within the Muslim community. And that surely isn’t the case for just these people. The muslim community in India, is largely plagued by their indifferent attitude towards education. To this date, education for most Muslim parents means sending their kids to madrasa, where they learn Arabic and Urdu. While there is no arguing that this education is important for a muslim child, but does it help in the overall development?

To help a child bloom and progress, the child needs a formal school education. He needs to learn different languages, math, science, social studies. He needs to explore and learn through arts and crafts. He should know about and play various sports. Do we see that happening for these refugee kids? Even if any of the kids did go to a school, that life has now abruptly come to a stop, probably never to resume again.

The Real Aftereffects

What future do these kids have? What will they become as adults? Having experienced such violence and trauma early in their life and having been tossed and tumbled from one camp to other, it wouldn’t be surprising if they believed this to be a ‘normal’ life.

Is it too harsh to assume that some of these kids will end up becoming ‘bad news’ for the society? With violence becoming mainstream for them, would it really prick their conscience to loot, or even murder? So have we just created a few more goons who will probably start a new riot a few years down the line?

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