Muzaffarnagar riots a big tragedy: PM

Muzaffarnagar, Sep 16 (IANS) Terming the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar a "big tragedy", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during a visit to the violence-hit Uttar Pradesh district along with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi Monday, called for punishing the guilty.

Manmohan Singh asked the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure safety and rehabilitation of the people who were displaced.

A grim faced Manmohan Singh spoke to officials as he walked through Bassi Kalan village and later Tawli amid tight security.

He told the people that he, along with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, had come to them in solidarity in their hour of crisis.

As many as 48 people were killed, over 100 injured and more than 43,000 rendered homeless in the communal clashes that singed the area since Sep 7. The army was called in to contain the situation.

The prime minister told reporters that he expected the security scenario to improve in the area so that the displaced people can return home.

"People behind such ghastly violence would be punished and all help extended to the UP government," the prime minister said.

While Manmohan Singh spoke to Divisional Commissioner Bhuvnesh Kumar and District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma, Sonia Gandhi mingled with women and sought to know the sequence of events that led to the rioting.

Rahul Gandhi spoke to the youth and assured them the Congress and the union government was with them.

He also asked the union Minister of State for Home Affairs R.P.N. Singh to take petitions from the people and address them.

Uttar Pradesh Governor B.L. Joshi and UP Health Minister Ahmed Hasan were present during the prime minister's visit.

People who met the prime minister and other leaders complained that the district administration and the state government did not extend to them the kind of support that should have been there.

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