Muzaffarnagar riots: PM promises strictest action

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Muzaffarnagar, Sept 16: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, on Monday visited communal violence-hit areas of this district in Uttar Pradesh to share the pain of those affected and promised "strictest punishment" to the perpetrators.

Singh and Sonia Gandhi appealed to all sections of the society here to maintain peace and harmony. Assuring all help from the Centre to the state government to restore normalcy, the Prime Minister "priority and efforts" right now was to ensure that affected people are sent back home with a feeling of security.

Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi visited a camp in Bassi Kalan village, 30 kms from here, where Muslims affected by violence have taken shelter. They also visited Jat-dominated Bawali and Khanjpura villages, which too have witnessed riots.

Singh and Sonia Gandhi appealed to all sections to maintain harmony

"I am here to share your pain," Singh told the affected people as he, along with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, tried to console them. Talking to reporters after listening to the people living in the camp, Singh said last week's riots were a "major incident" and that the "perpetrators of the riots will be given strictest punishment." He said he had come here to take stock of the situation.

"Our priority and efforts would be that people displaced are sent back home... Steps should be taken to ensure that people have a feeling of security." Later, they went to Jat-dominated areas where people alleged "police inaction" and talked about a feeling of insecurity.

"We want that people should go back to their villages. Steps should be taken to ensure a feeling of security," the Prime Minister said. At the refugee camp, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi interacted with the people who have taken shelter there. Sonia moved away from the cordon to listen to the women.

Forty-two-year-old riot-affected Jameel Bassi from Kutbi village said he told the Prime Minister that the victims did not want to go back to their homes as their lives are in danger. He was seen weeping during his interaction with Singh. Governor B L Joshi and Union Minister of State for Home R P N Singh were also present.

"We told the Prime Minister that we don't want to go back to our village. There is threat to our lives," Bassi said. "The Prime Minister said that all help will be extended to us by the state government and the central government," he added. An estimated 2000 people are staying in Bassi Kalan relief camp.

PTI

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