PM visits UP, BJP terms it secular tourism
By Express News Service | Published: 17th September 2013 09:22 AM |
A day after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav visited riot-torn Muzaffarnagar and was shown black flags, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi met the riot victims near relief camps in the troubled zone and promised “strictest punishment” to the perpetrators of the violence.
On expected lines, opposition BJP’s national Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi launched a broadside against the PM’s visit calling it “secular tourism on communal riots”.
As scared victims — refugees in their own State — recounted stories of daylight killings and loss of home and hearth, a grim-faced Prime Minister’s promise appeared little more than just that, a promise. Yet-to-be-arrested MLAs, against whom first information reports have been registered by the local police for willfully inciting the violence in Muzaffarnagar, were found attending the Assembly session in Lucknow.
Though the PM’s visit acquired a political colour as he was accompanied by the Congress leadership, the assurances that he gave to the riot-affected people — an estimated 43,000 people are living in numerous relief camps in the western UP district — were of administrative nature.
He said the Centre would extend all help to the State government to “restore normalcy” and would ensure “priority” is given for creating a conducive situation so that they can go back to their homes. But with communal tension still simmering, not many were willing to return. Angry villagers, instead, demanded dismissal of the State government for its inability to halt the riots, by way of action from the PM.
The PM, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul first visited a camp in Bassi Kalan village where Muslims affected in the violence have taken shelter. They then went to the Jat-dominated Bawali and Khanjpura villages, which too saw rioting. While the Muslims complained about loss of lives of family members and destruction of property, the Jats alleged it was the State’s inaction against the initial crime (of eve-teasing and arson) committed by the members of the minority community which led to the violence.
As the PM and the Congress leaders silently heard the victims out, some of whom broke down, the PM said he was there primarily “to share the pain”.