The UPA government will roll out measures to provide relief to Muslims displaced by the Muzaffarnagar riots, including employment opportunities and funds to rebuild homes — steps aimed at reaching out to the minority community amid criticism that the ruling Congress party had largely ignored concrete help.
Minority affairs minister K Rahman Khan had held consultations with the top Congress leadership, pushing for assistance to thousands who fled religious violence that had engulfed the area in September last year.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had visited the camps on December 22. A day later, he met representatives of minority communities, where many Muslim leaders had told him that his visit meant little in the absence of real measures to improve conditions in squalid makeshift camps.
Rahman Khan proposed a three-pronged relief package by utilising funds available under welfare programmes of his ministry.
The minister said funds available under schemes being run by his ministry — from housing to skills training — could be easily redirected to benefit riot victims. Minority affairs secretary Lalit Panwar then wrote to UP chief secretary Jawed Usmani in this regard.
“We will accommodate any number of beneficiaries who might apply,” Rahman Khan told HT. He, however, said the UP government had not yet responded.
Rahman Khan said his ministry would provide housing assistance under the Indira Awas Yojana, a centrally-sponsored scheme for affordable housing. The ministry will also provide a skills training programme called “Seekho Kamao” for youth between 15 and 35 years affected by the violence. An employment scheme is also being worked out.
The minister said “zero-interest loans” would be provided through the National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation.