In Muzaffarnagar, Akhilesh assures justice, announces compensation

Muzaffarnagar, Sep 15 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav Sunday visited the riot-hit areas of Muzaffarnagar and met the families of some of the victims, a week after communal violence broke out in the region claiming 47 lives and sent thousands fleeing from their homes in fear.

The chief minister flew in by chopper to Kawaal village, where the three-day-long violence that engulfed Muzaffarnagar district and nearby areas began, forcing the government to deploy the army.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to visit the area on Monday. According to sources, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi could accompany him.

Speaking to reporters after meeting the families of the three youths killed on Aug 27, Akhilesh Yadav who has been criticised for not doing enough to control the conflagration, termed the outbreak of violence "very sad".

He said his government will provide justice to the victims and take strong action against all those who took part in the violence.

The chief minister announced Rs.10 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed and a government job to a member of the family.

Kawaal village is where an alleged incident of sexual harassment on Aug 27 led to three youths being killed.

A 'mahapanchayat' or gathering of village councils was held a few days later, which led to communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and nearby areas, forcing the government to call in the army to control the situation.

The state government has suspended Muzaffarnagar police chief, Subhash Chandra Dubey, and launched a departmental enquiry against him for failing to control the violence. The state government has already suspended six police officials earlier.

Addressing reporters at the Police Lines, the chief minister said the Vishnu Sahay judicial panel is probing the communal violence.

"All those found guilty by the panel will be sent to jail, howsoever powerful they might be," he said, adding the rioters would be booked under the stringent National Security Act.

On demands for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe, the chief minister said he would first await a report by the judicial panel.

On the charges of negligence levelled against local authorities, Akhilesh said the judicial panel's report would bring out the truth and those found lax would face action.

He also said the government would repair the destroyed homes.

The chief minister has appealed to people with social standing in the area to come forward and speak to members of both communities in order that peace prevails.

After Kawaal, the chief minister travelled to Malakpur, Kandla and Shahpur villages and met the people who have fled their homes and are staying at shelters. The people of Kawaal who wanted to meet the chief minister and present him with a memorandum were angry when he went away without meeting them.

The chief minister also met the family of television reporter Rajesh Verma who was killed in the violence. Later, he told reporters that the state government had given Rs.15 lakh compensation to the family and that a member of the family would be provided a job.

The chief minister was accompanied by state cabinet minister and Samajwadi Party leader Rajendra Choudhry.

So far, 47 people have been killed in the violence. The situation is fast returning to normal. Curfew was relaxed for the day in three police station area of Muzaffarnagar.

Around 40,000 people have taken refuge in more than 30 relief camps set up in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts.

Communal clashes erupted in Muzaffarnagar Sep 7 after simmering discontent over a molestation case of Aug 27 which subsequently led to three people being killed in a clash.

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