Rahul Gandhi visits riot-hit areas, tells UP govt to focus on relief camps

GandhiCongress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also held interactions with riot victims at nearby Khurgan camp where Congress has put up medical camps. (Reuters)

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi made an unannounced visit to riot-hit areas of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday. After visiting affected people from both communities in four villages, Rahul 'advised' the UP government to intervene and improve living conditions in relief camps.

"Wherever I went, people spoke about brotherhood and said communal forces were responsible for the clashes here. The situation in the relief camps is very bad and the UP government must intervene immediately," he said. "UP has a young chief minister. I want to tell him to focus on the camps and mediate between the two communities," he added.

Beginning his visit early on Sunday morning, Rahul first went to the Malakpur camp in Shamli district, where at least 35 children are reported to have died due to the extreme cold in recent weeks. Chowdhary Gulshad, who escorted Rahul through the camp, said, "We were sitting and drinking tea when he suddenly arrived unannounced. He asked us about the situation in the camp and we were very frank."

Gulshad said he described the poor sanitary conditions, lack of blankets and support from the UP government and the need for a permanent settlement for the 4,000-odd refugees in the area. "He listened to us and even spoke to the children. We told him the central government could intervene in allotment of land for a permanent solution. He smiled and promised to do something for us. This is the first time a senior politician has visited us," said Gulshad.

Rahul also visited the Khurgaon, Sumeti and Barnavi camps in Shamli. "He spent about 15 minutes here and shared a cup of tea with us. He asked if we would return to our villages Lakh, Lisarh or Bhavdi which witnessed some of the worst violence between September 7 and September 10. Everybody said we would go anywhere but back to our villages," said Aladin Pradhan from Barnavi.

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