Lakh Bawdi, a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district, 20 km from Muzaffarnagar town, is surrounded on three sides by harvest-ready fields of sugarcane as high as the average Indian, and a pond on the fourth. The joke in north India is that there is no better place to hide an abducted person than in a harvest-ready sugarcane field.
This harvesting season, however, the cane fields in Lakh Bawdi are throwing up tales infinitely more sordid. Like the partially decomposed, half-naked body of a woman found recently. It won’t be the first—more corpses will emerge as the harvesting season progresses.
Lakh Bawdi was among the villages most affected by the sectarian violence in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in September, the others being Lisad, Phugana, Kutba-Kutbi, Kirana, Budhana and Bahawdi.
It’s a scene etched firmly in Abid Khan’s mind. “It was 7.30 in the morning,” recalls the 35-year-old from Lakh Bawdi. “A group of young men stopped outside our house and asked us to run away if we wanted to stay alive....