September 17, 2013 10:35:01 am
As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,accompanied by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi,visited the riot-hit areas on Monday,many of the victims complained of police inaction. Singh assured justice and promised strictest punishment to the perpetrators.
The PM,Sonia and Rahul visited madrasa-turned-refugee camps in Bassi Kalan and Tawli and Jat-dominated Bavrala and Khanjpura villages. I,Soniaji and Rahul are here to share your sorrow and pain, Singh told the victims. In a strong message to the state government,he said it was the duty of the government to protect its citizens.
This is a tragic incident. Whoever is responsible should be punished. It is the duty of the government to protect life and property. The Centre will provide all help to the Uttar Pradesh government and will try to ensure the strictest punishment to all those who are involved, said Singh.
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The anger of the previous day,when Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav faced black flags and protesting villagers,gave way to grief today. At Bassi Kalan,where hundreds have taken shelter in a madrasa,victims said they were scared to return to their homes in neighbouring villages.
We told Rahul that we dont want to return to our village. He assured us that something will be done in our favour, said Jameel Bassi,42,who broke down before the PM. Bassi and his family fled their home in Kutba village on the night of September 7.
Many complained of inaction by the police and district administration. We pleaded for help but the police did not come. We had to flee,leaving everything behind. All the local police officers should be suspended, said Sultan Ahmed.
There was anger at the district officials for allowing the Jat mahapanchayat despite the simmering tension in the area. The slogans raised by those who came for the mahapanchayat were clearly provocative. They were shouting Musalman Pakistan jao ya kabristan jao. I nearly lost my fingers after a sword was swiped at me, said Arshad,who met Rahul.
We have told the PM and Soniaji everything. Our houses were torched,masjids were burnt, said Aisha.
After Bassi Kalan,the PM,Sonia and Rahul stopped at Jat-dominated Bavrala and Khanjpura villages,on the way to another madrasa-turned refugee camp in Tawli. There too,villagers complained of police inaction and a prevailing feeling of insecurity. The Jat representatives asked them to ensure a fair inquiry.
Singh and Sonia asked everyone to maintain peace and calm and assured all help from the Centre. The priority,Singh said,was to ensure that those who have fled their homes can return to their villages with a feeling of security.
The anger on the ground against the Samajwadi Party government was evident. If we get justice and relief,we may forget everything. Otherwise,we will have to look for other options during elections, said Shahnawaz Khan,who claimed he was a supporter of SP leader Azam Khan. We will help those who help us. Like (Narendra) Modi,Mulayam is also a Hindu. That is not a consideration for us. We will help those who get us justice, he said.
The PM,Sonia and Rahul also visited the family of television journalist Rajesh Verma who was killed in the clashes. Singh promised an ex-gratia relief of Rs 10 lakh and educational aid for Vermas children.
Union Minister of State for Home R P Singh,who accompanied the trio,said the Centre had warned the UP government in advance about the possible communal flare-up,but the state government had failed to act.
Meanwhile,before the PMs arrival,some organisers were heard instructing the victims to tell the leaders and the media that they dont want to return to their homes. The sub-divisional magistrate later thanked one of the organisers,Mohd Nafeez,for telling Sonia that they are getting adequate rations and other supplies. Sonia had made a specific inquiry about this.
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