Three weeks after they fled rioters and sought refuge at a temporary camp in neighbouring Shamli district, Muslims from 40 villages of Muzaffarnagar have been collectively booked by an arm of the UP government for encroaching on forest land.

By the government’s own admission, some 10,000 Muslims are still at Malakpur, the largest relief camp for the riot-hit.

Now, the state forest department has filed an FIR against “thousands of Muslims” for encroaching forest land since September 12.

The FIR has been filed by Narender Kumar, regional forest officer, Kairana range, Shamli district, under sections of the Indian Penal Code and Forest Act against “sharanarthi Muslim samudaay ke log, naam, pataa agyaat, hazaaron ki sankhya mein”.

The FIR mentions how unidentified people have encroached on forest land and chopped trees: “agyaat mujliman dwara van vibhag ki bhoomi par atikraman kar… per kaatna…”

When his comments were sought, Shamli SP A K Rai said the FIR had been registered “as per rules”, but said no action would be taken against people who have sought refuge under tarpaulin sheets on this land.

“Everyone understands that this is not permanent encroachment. We had to register the FIR because the forest department said their land had been used by these people. But we know these are displaced people and are seeking shelter. At the same time, this cannot be a permanent arrangement. But we are not taking any action till the situation stabilises,” Rai said.

source: indian express