PM visits Muzaffarnagar, seeks punishment for guilty

Providing succour: Attacks Akhilesh Yadav for failing to safeguard lives, property
Last Updated 16 September 2013, 20:16 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday made a veiled attack on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for failing to safeguard lives and property during communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar.

The prime minister promised full support to the state government to bring the guilty to book. He also assured the victims of all help.

Singh, who visited the riot-torn district along with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, said law and order was the responsibility of the state government. “It is the responsibility of the state government to safeguard lives and properties,” the prime minister told reporters after meeting the victims at a relief camp.

Describing the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar as “a huge tragedy,” Singh sought the strictest punishment for the guilty. “Those responsible for the violence must be given stern punishment. We will help the state government in the investigations,” he said.

The prime minister also said the priority was to bring back the displaced people. Singh also visited the family of journalist Rajesh Verma, who was killed in the violence. He announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to Verma’s family and promised free education for his children.

According to eyewitness accounts, people in the Basai Kalan relief camp narrated their plight to the prime minister. One of them even broke down while talking to Singh. “My wife and children were hacked to death in front of me. My house was also set on fire,” said the man, identified as Jameel. Sonia Gandhi also interacted with women at the relief camp. Many of them requested the Congress chief to make arrangements for them to bring back their belongings.

The women told Gandhi that they would not return home unless they were certain of their safety. “There are many women here with newborns. Imagine their situation,” a woman told Gandhi.

Singh’s visit comes a day after Yadav’s. The chief minister had to face a hostile crowd, which waved black flags at him in Kaval village.

Ruckus in UP Assembly

The issue of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar rocked the Uttar Pradesh Assembly on the first day of its monsoon session, as opposition members shouted slogans against the Samajwadi Party regime for its alleged failure to keep a check on violence and also demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, DHNS reports .

Members of the Opposition staged a protest inside both the Houses (Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad), waved posters and banners denouncing the government, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day.

The government later conceded to the Opposition’s demand for a discussion on the riots in the house. As soon as the House met, opposition BSP, BJP, Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal members were up on their feet shouting anti-government slogans.

They were wearing caps displaying slogans and carried posters and banners. They also had a scuffle with the security staff of the Assembly. The Opposition members further demanded suspension of the business of the House.

As repeated pleas from the Speaker to restore order fell on deaf ears, the House was adjourned for an hour. However, the scene repeated itself when the House met again

Referring to the 2002 Gujarat riots, Senior minister Azam Khan alleged that the riots were the handiwork of communal forces, who were trying to pull a “Gujarat” in UP. He said that the state government was committed to safeguard every person and would take stern action against those responsible for the violence.

With all attempts to restore order failing, Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey adjourned the House for the day.

BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiqi said that the state government had lost all moral right to continue in power. “It must resign immediately,” he said. Congress legislature party leader Pradeep Mathur also demanded the resignation of the chief minister for his alleged failure to contain violence.

(Published 16 September 2013, 20:15 IST)

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