PM assures justice to riot victims, promises 'strictest punishment' to perpetrators

Manmohan SinghManmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi with riot victims at Bassi Kalan madrasa in Muzaffarnagar district on Monday. (IE Photo: Anil Sharma)

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, accompanied by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, visited the riot-hit areas on Monday, many of the victims complained of "police inaction". Singh assured justice and promised "strictest punishment" to the perpetrators.

The PM, Sonia and Rahul visited madrasa-turned-refugee camps in Bassi Kalan and Tawli and Jat-dominated Bavrala and Khanjpura villages. "I, Soniaji and Rahul are here to share your sorrow and pain," Singh told the victims. In a strong message to the state government, he said it was the duty of the government to protect its citizens.

Akhilesh Yadav offers justice, faces anger

"This is a tragic incident. Whoever is responsible should be punished. It is the duty of the government to protect life and property. The Centre will provide all help to the Uttar Pradesh government and will try to ensure the strictest punishment to all those who are involved," said Singh.

The anger of the previous day, when Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav faced black flags and protesting villagers, gave way to grief today. At Bassi Kalan, where hundreds have taken shelter in a madrasa, victims said they were scared to return to their homes in neighbouring villages.

PHOTOS: Scared villagers flee homes in affected areas

"We told Rahul that we don't want to return to our village. He assured us that something will be done in our favour," said Jameel Bassi, 42, who broke down before the PM. Bassi and his family fled their home in Kutba village on the night of September 7.

Many complained of "inaction" by the police and district administration. "We pleaded for help but the police did not come. We had to flee, leaving everything behind. All the local police officers should be suspended," said Sultan Ahmed.

There was anger at the district officials for allowing the Jat mahapanchayat despite the simmering tension in the area. "The slogans raised by those who came for the mahapanchayat were clearly provocative. They were shouting 'Musalman Pakistan jao ya kabristan jao.' I nearly lost my fingers after a sword was swiped at me," said Arshad, who met Rahul.

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