Azam Khan dubs PM, Sonia's Muzaffarnagar visit a 'poll gimmick'

Lucknow, Sept. 16 (ANI): Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan on Monday defended the steps taken by the Akhilesh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh Government in restoring order to Muzaffarnagar after communal riots, and termed the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress top brass to the region as a "poll gimmick".

"If the PM is so concerned about those affected by riots, he should pay a visit to other communal riot victims as well, Khan told media here.

"We have followed the law so far and will continue to. This is what has stopped the riots," he added.

"The state government has always maintained peace. There is no question of showing leniency to those who are guilty," Khan said.

Prime Minister Singh had earlier in the day said that the Centre would extend full support to the Akhilesh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh Government in tackling the situation arising out of the Muzaffarnagar violence, and said the guilty must be punished.

"I, Soniaji and Rahul Gandhi have come here to join you in your pain and sorrow and to make an assessment of the incident. This is a very tragic incident, and whoever is responsible for this, must be duly punished. It is the duty of the government to safeguard life and property so that people can once again settle in their homes," Dr. Singh told media at Bassi Kalan.

"The Centre will fully support the U P Government. And, in addition, our efforts will be to ensure that strict action is taken against all those responsible for the riot," he added.

Dr. Singh earlier interacted with the victims along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and consoled them.

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh are also accompanying the Prime Minister.

The Congress leaders will also be visiting the hospitals where the injured are admitted.

The visit of the Congress top brass to Muzaffarnagar comes a day after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav visited the riot-hit district and ssured people that strict action will be taken against those responsible for the disturbances.

He also said that one family member of those killed would be given a government job.

The Chief Minister has already sanctioned 10 lakh rupees of relief for the families of those killed.

Meanwhile, the situation in the affected areas of the state is limping back to normal. No incident of violence was reported yesterday when day curfew was relaxed.

Scores of senior officials, including Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Arun Kumar and others, are constantly camping in trouble-hit Muzaffarnagar.

The Uttar Pradesh Government has constituted a one-member judicial commission to probe the Muzaffarnagar violence, which has claimed over 40 lives.

The commission, which would mainly look into administrative lapses, if any, in controlling the violence, would submit its report to the government within two months.

Violence broke out in the Kawal area of Muzaffarnagar earlier this month when members of a community returning from a panchayat meeting in Naglabadhod, three kilometres from Kawal, clashed with members of another community. (ANI)

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