PM pitches for swift action to check riots

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday pitched for the swift, impartial and strict action to prevent flaring up of communal disturbances, sounding a virtual warning to the Uttar Pradesh government for its failure to control the Muzaffarnagar riots in which more than 50 persons lost their lives.

Addressing the 16th meeting of the National Integration Council, Singh made it clear that it was the responsibility of the local administration to prevent minor incidents from assuming large proportions and punish the perpetrators of crime.

“The government should use full force to act against those responsible for riots, however powerful they may be and to whichever party they may belong,” Singh said at the meeting attended by union ministers, chief ministers, representatives of NGOs, editors and leaders of prominent political parties.

The meeting was convened after a gap of two years, against the backdrop of the Muzaffarnagar riots.

With Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi skipping the meeting, the mantle of presenting the BJP viewpoint fell on his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Singh Chouhan. He said that there has not been a single communal riot in the state for the last 10 years as the BJP-led government does not “govern through a prism of religion”.

Chouhan, who is also emerging as a moderate leader in the BJP ranks, said officials in Madhya Pradesh have been given a free hand to deal with law and order problems and “do not look to the capital for advice”.

“We believe in the dictum – justice for all, appeasement to none,” he said.
His remarks come in the wake of a sting operation by some news channels in which police officials claimed that they were asked by Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan to go slow in taking action against the Muzaffarnagar incidents.

Singh also had a word of advice for the media and asked them to refrain from giving political colour to a communal incident. He termed the discussion about which political party stands to benefit or lose in elections due to communal violence “really unfortunate”.

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