UP riot toll may be much higher, says Centre

Blame game: State govt flayed for communal violence; Muslim groups seek its dismissal

UP riot toll may be much higher, says Centre

Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan said on Wednesday that  the death toll in the Muzaffarnagar riots could be much higher than what had been declared.

Taking on the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government for its “failure” to contain the communal violence, he sought overriding powers for the Centre to deal with such situations.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, Khan raised doubts over the toll figure of 40 as put by the UP government led by the Samajwadi Party (SP).

“There are unofficial reports stating that the death toll could be higher. Nobody has been able to go to the small villages surrounding Muzaffarnagar,” he told Deccan Herald.

He said the violence had spread to small villages around Muzaffarnagar where there were a few homes of minorities surrounded by houses of other communities.
Khan said he had requested the National Commission for Minorities to tour the riot-hit region and submit a report to the ministry.

“The Akhilesh Yadav government failed to assess the gravity of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s polarising politics which resulted in the worst riots in the state in recent times,” Khan said.

He said the Uttar Pradesh government had failed in controlling the law and order situation that worsened conditions. “It has failed to contain communal disturbances in the state...(the) SP is an ally, but that does not mean we condone its inability to contain communal disturbances,” he said.

However, he refused to make a direct comment on a question on whether the riots were a “fixed match” between the SP and the BJP in view of the elections next year.
“People who want to polarise the masses are adopting all measures, including use of social media, to spread trouble,” Khan said when asked to comment on a BJP leader being named in an FIR filed for circulating provocative and fake video clips on social media.

He made a strong pitch for urgent passage of legislations to check such incidents and wanted the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill to give the Centre overriding powers to intervene in situations where the state government is found to be ineffective.

“We require such legislation to ensure that the common citizens do not suffer because of the failure of the state government,” he said.

Khan said during his meeting with the prime minister he had stressed the urgent need for stringent laws to contain communal violence.

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