Satyender Kumar Baliyan shudders as he recounts how he escaped the massacre at Gang Nahar, popularly known as Jolly canal, last Saturday.
Baliyan, 24, was among a group of 2,000 villagers returning home after attending the Mahapanchayat hosted by several Jat communities of western Uttar Pradesh in nearby Kawal village, when they were ambushed by a mob, armed with assault rifles and other sophisticated weapons.
“Since, I was with the NCC for more than three years during my school days, I could easily tell that our assailants were using AK47 rifles and other weapons,” he told dna at the site of the massacre. The mob set on fire 18 tractor trollies and three motorbikes of the villagers.
Local people say the Jolly canal massacre turned into the communal riots of Muzaffarnagar, in which the official death toll is 45. But local people say the number is much higher.
Eyewitnesses say after the mass killings, the attackers dumped the bodies in the canal, which meets the Ganges river in adjoining Haridwar district. So far, six bodies have been fished out.
“We were unarmed. And they(attackers) ambushed us like Naxals. They started firing indiscriminately,” Baliyan said.
Omkar Singh Rana of Baseda village, cannot find his elder brother Brijpal Singh Rana since the attack on Saturday. “It is not only my elder brother... there are hundreds of people who have gone missing after the massacre. Though six bodies have been found, we are sure there will be many more,” Rana told dna.
The villagers accused the local administration of not acting swiftly.
The police allowed the attackers to flee, some said. “The district administration has not made any effort to track the missing persons or find the bodies. Even the water flow in the canal was not controlled; it was deliberately increased to sweep away the dumped bodies,” said Bhanwar Singh, pradhan of Baseda village.
The district administration has registered 40 missing complaints till Wednesday. But often cases are not registered because officials think people might have migrated to other parts of the state.
District magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma admitted that the number of missing persons is more than the registered cases. “In case of the Jolly canal, we have recovered six bodies so far. Work is on to trace others, if any,” he said. “But in some cases people have migrated to other places. And since there is no contact with family members, they lodge missing complaints.”
The Jat community went on the rampage after the killings at Jolly canal. “Blaming Muslims for the Jolly canal attack, Jats set our houses on fire and killed our women and kids.”