Angry Muslim leaders of the Samajwadi Party Wednesday demanded their government in Uttar Pradesh provide security for their community instead of freebies such as laptops and unemployment allowances while the Muslim face of the party stayed away from its national executive meeting.
They also demanded action against state police chief Deo Raj Nagar for the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar.
Although the opening day of the national executive meeting had taken up the partys political and economic resolution for discussion,the Muslim members chose to focus on Muzaffarnagar.
Dont give us laptops,unemployment allowance etc. Give us security. All our good deeds have been washed away by these riots, said Abu Asim Azmi,president of the Maharashtra unit of the party,who led the charge against the SP leadership.
Members loudly applauded Azmi as he urged the party to go back to what he said was its Muslim-friendly image when Mulayam Singh Yadav was chief minister.
We want the old SP where Muslims were safe,we need to change our strategy, Azmi said in the presence of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Azmi was joined by cabinet minister Ahmed Hasan,among others,who demanded action against those responsible for the violence in Muzaffarnagar.
Why was the DGP spared when action has been taken against district level officials? He too is equally responsible since he was present there on September 7. The incident has maligned our image, Azmi added. His demand was immediately backed by minister of state for panchayati raj Kamal Akhter and other members.
The outburst by the SPs Muslim leaders came as cabinet minister Azam Khan,who is also the partys national general secretary and is considered the SPs Muslim face,skipped the national executive meeting. While Khan refused to give reasons for his absence when reached by The Indian Express,his staff said he had a fever.
Over the weekend,Khan had strongly criticised the local administration and the Akhilesh government for the trouble in Muzaffarnagar. The SPs national general secretary Ramgopal Yadav sought to downplay Khans absence saying it was nothing serious. There are 106 members and only 80 are present. Some people fail to attend as they are busy elsewhere. It should not be taken seriously, he said. Dont worry,he is not angry with us.
Khan has been avoiding official events and has not attended eight cabinet meetings since June.
Party sources said the SPs Muslim leaders were especially upset over Muzaffarnagar as there were specific examples to show delay,inaction and failure at several levels of the administration right up to the top leading to the loss of innocent lives in the riots.
Sensing the mood,Mulayam chose to focus on Muzaffarnagar in his speech at the meeting and blamed the BJP and its affiliate organizations for stoking violence. A political party and its affiliate organizations made efforts to instigate violence in Muzaffarnagar. A BJP MLA even circulated a fake video on social networking sites, he said.
Such incidents will be repeated if we are not alert. Some people who have lost the peoples mandate are seeking political mileage from the incident. We will not let it happen at any cost even if we have to pay any price, Mulayam said.
Ramgopal Yadav later told reporters that the party is committed to restoring peace in Muzaffarnagar.
We have instructed our partymen to visit the area. Bhaichara committees will be formed in every village to heal the wounds of hatred. We controlled the violence within two days and the Army was called immediately, he said. He also claimed that law enforcement in UP is better than in Delhi,Bihar and other states.