PM to visit violence-hit Muzaffarnagar as peace returns

Muzaffarnagar/New Delhi (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will Monday visit Uttar Pradesh's violence-hit Muzaffarnagar district where curfew was relaxed Saturday as peace returned.

"The prime minister will visit Muzaffarnagar Sep 16," an official from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) told IANS Saturday, adding details of the visit are being worked out.

Three days of violence have left 47 dead in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas while over 43,000 people were rendered homeless. Clashes took place last weekend after simmering discontent following the harassment of a young woman Aug 27 in a village in Muzaffarnagar district.

The prime minister had expressed deep anguish over the loss of lives in the violence.

He had announced compensation of Rs.200,000 to the kin of each of those killed in communal clashes.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav have accused rival parties of fomenting trouble in Muzaffarnagar, located about 120 km from New Delhi, and nearby areas.

The situation in Muzaffarnagar district and its adjoining areas was peaceful for th fifth day Saturday. The curfew was relaxed for 12 hours -- 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Security personnel are maintaining tight vigil as the situation was still tense in rural areas.

Curfew was also relaxed Friday for 12 hours. There were no reports of any untoward incident during this period.

Around 40,000 people have taken refuge in more than 30 relief camps set up in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts. People at the camps said they were not sure of the security situation and were not ready to return to their hometowns.

The administration distributed medicines, food and milk packets among other essential items at the relief camps.

Special Task Force Director General Ashish Gupta said the situation in Muzaffarnagar was fast returning to normal.

So far, 11,000 people have been placed under preventive detention, while 187 have been arrested and 11 of them have cases of murder slapped against them.

The bloodletting in Muzaffarnagar led to a BJP rally scheduled to be addressed Sunday by senior leader L.K. Advani in Uttar Pradesh's Akola town being postponed to Sep 29.

Agra Divisional Commissioner Pradip Bhatnagar and senior district officials late Friday held a meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including local MP Ram Shankar Katheria.

The officials agreed to allow the rally Sep 29 in Akola, 18 km from Agra, "if the situation in the state remains normal".

The postponement took place Friday, a day when BJP anointed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate despite opposition from Advani.

Agra District Magistrate Zuhair Bin Saghir and senior police officials have been trying to convince BJP leaders that the time was not right to hold a rally in the present circumstances when passions were running high in the aftermath of communal clashes.

In Bihar, a state which is abutting Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked the state police to use the National Security Act against any one trying to create communal tension in the state.

A day after Janata Dal-United (JD-U) president Sharad Yadav said attempts could be made to foment communal riots in Bihar before the 2014 general elections, Nitish Kumar ordered police to be more vigilant against communal strife.

Anti-riot squads should be properly trained to deal with such situations, he said.

Police has also decided to impart special training to anti-riot teams of the Rapid Action Force.

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