Rahul visits Muzaffarnagar riot relief camps, faces protest

Rahul visits Muzaffarnagar riot relief camps, faces protest

 Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday made a surprise visit to relief camps housing the Muzaffarnagar riot victims in Shamli district and inquired about their well-being.

The visit by the Congress leader, an apparent “damage control” exercise, came after his remarks that the Pakistani spy agency had contacted some of the victims living in the relief camps triggered widespread resentment and anger. Predictably, he had to face protests at a few places. Rahul, whose programme was kept a closely guarded secret with even the district administration being in the dark, visited relief camps in Malakpur, Khurgan, Barnawi and Sunehti where he met the people who stay there and asked them about the arrangements there.

The Congress leader later termed the conditions at the camps terrible and asked Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to take steps to improve the same. “Children are dying. Condition at the camps is bad. Akhilesh should focus on the camps and also make efforts for reconcilation,” Rahul told reporters later. The Congress vice-president urged the people to return to their  villages. “Those behind the riots will take advantage of the situation if you do not return,” Rahul was quoted as telling the people.

The visit comes in the backdrop of reports of death of several children from cold in the relief camps though the district officials have denied it.

The Congress leader especially spoke to women and children at the relief camps. He also had tea at one of the camps.

According to sources, the people complained about the lack of arrangements to fight the bitter cold. They reportedly told Rahul that they did not have enough blankets and quilts to counter the cold and asked the Congress leader to provide the same.

At some camps the people complained of discrimination against them simply because they belonged to a specific community. The people also said that their children were unable to go to schools.

The people, according to the sources, clearly told Rahul that they would under no circumstances return to their villages as they feared for their lives. They instead demanded that they be provided land for building houses near the relief camps.

At Kandhla camp, Rahul was shown black flags. The people said that no Congress leader, not even the local party MLA , had bothered to visit them. People were also angry over Rahul’s ISI remark.

There are currently four relief camps at Shamli in which around 3,000 riot victims, who had allegedly been displaced during the recent communal violence, had been living for the past over three months.

As many as 62 people were killed and over 100 injured in the communal violence that rocked Muzaffarnagar district in September this year.

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