Anger within SP: Forget laptops, protect our lives

LucknowMohammad Kadir (68), with his grandsons Aarif (5) and Rihaan(7) at a madrasa in Bassi Kalan, Muzaffarnagar, on Wednesday where riot-hit families have taken shelter. Kadirís son Shamshad was killed on Sunday by attackers as the family was trying to flee its village, Kutba. Kadirís daughter-in-law, Guldasta, is battling for life in a Meerut hospital. Gajendra yadav

Angry Muslim leaders of the Samajwadi Party Wednesday demanded their government in Uttar Pradesh provide security for their community instead of freebies such as laptops and unemployment allowances while the Muslim face of the party stayed away from its national executive meeting.

They also demanded action against state police chief Deo Raj Nagar for the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar.

Although the opening day of the national executive meeting had taken up the party's political and economic resolution for discussion, the Muslim members chose to focus on Muzaffarnagar.

"Don't give us laptops, unemployment allowance etc. Give us security. All our good deeds have been washed away by these riots," said Abu Asim Azmi, president of the Maharashtra unit of the party, who led the charge against the SP leadership.

Members loudly applauded Azmi as he urged the party to go back to what he said was its Muslim-friendly image when Mulayam Singh Yadav was chief minister.

"We want the old SP where Muslims were safe, we need to change our strategy," Azmi said in the presence of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Azmi was joined by cabinet minister Ahmed Hasan, among others, who demanded action against those responsible for the violence in Muzaffarnagar.

"Why was the DGP spared when action has been taken against district level officials? He too is equally responsible since he was present there on September 7. The incident has maligned our image," Azmi added. His demand was immediately backed by minister of state for panchayati raj Kamal Akhter and other members.

The outburst by the SP's Muslim leaders came as cabinet minister Azam Khan, who is also the party's national general secretary and is considered the SP's Muslim face, skipped the national executive meeting. While Khan refused to give reasons for his absence when reached by The Indian Express, his staff said he had a fever.

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