UP lawmakers cut short tour, Azam says criticism unfair

UP lawmakers cut short tour, Azam says criticism unfair

UP lawmakers cut short tour, Azam says criticism unfair

Under intense criticism, a delegation of UP legislators and ministers today cut short its five-nation tour, with state minister Mohammad Azam Khan claiming that they were unfairly targeted.

Khan, who led the 17-member delegation including eight ministers that returned here today, dismissed criticism from opposition parties and the media which had accused them of ignoring the plight of Muzaffarnagar riot victims.

Attacking BJP, he alleged that media gave distorted reports under a "conspiracy by fascist forces" and even suggested they were "targeted" because a Muslim minister had led the delegation.

"We came when he had to come. Had you (media) given your advise earlier, we could have acted according to it," was the terse reaction of the Samajwadi Party leader on queries about the early return of the delegation.

It had embarked on January 9 on a nearly fortnight long study tour organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to Turkey, the Netherlands, UK, Greece and UAE.

"I am a Muslim. Had I not been leading the team, the hue and cry would not have been raised by media. It is for the fourth time I went as part of the Commonwealth delegation but this time I led it due to which media highlighted it," Khan said.

Asked whether it was morally correct to go on foreign tour when Muzaffarnagar riot victims were facing difficult situation in relief camps, Azam said that this was not the question.

"The tour had its own purpose.... The situation is under control there (in Muzaffarnagar). SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav were here (in UP).... The entire cabinet was here... cabinet meetings were held... the government and administration were doing their work.

Asked why despite being minister incharge of Muzaffarnagar, he did not visit the riot affected district, Khan said that he had been served seven notices by the Supreme Court due to an alleged sting operation in which his name had reportedly figured in connection with the riots.

"Had I visited Muzaffarnagar, the fascist forces would have made the situation worse," he said.

When asked when he plans to go there, Khan said. "I am always there (in Muzaffarnagar).... Though physically I am not there but I think of them every time.... The people there know this", he said.

Strongly objecting to the media's behaviour, he said, "we were followed by the media.... Even my nose was hit by the camera and I was left bleeding due to them...."

He said India being a member of UNO and Commonwealth, the delegation was invited by them and state government and Centre had given permission for that.

"The media and opposition parties criticised the tour.... Keeping this in mind why should India not consider withdrawing its membership from UNO and Commonwealth?", he asked. 

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