Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday expressed his regret at the police firing that killed eight people in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh before leaving for the state to review investment and agriculture projects.
The dead included activists of the Communist Party of India and CPI (Marxist) participating in an agitation to seek land for the poor and has provoked strong reactions in and out of the state.
Left parties – that extend support from outside to the Congress-led coalition at the Centre – have condemned the Y Rajasekhara Reddy government in AP. On Monday, Jyoti Basu told reporters in Kolkata that the firing was “unwarranted”.
The Prime Minister spoke to Reddy early on Monday to review the situation in Khammam district, just hours before he was to leave for Hyderabad on a scheduled visit.
'The Prime Minister expressed his regret at the unfortunate incident,' a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office later said. He also conveyed his heartfelt sympathy for the next of the kin of those who died in the firing and inquired about the welfare of the injured.
“The Prime Minister reiterated the government's commitment to redistribute the surplus land and fulfil the stated commitments to the rural poor, especially the landless,” the statement said.
The Andhra Pradesh chief minister also briefed about the steps taken by the state government including the decision to institute a judicial inquiry.
Left parties had mounted pressure on the chief minister to resign after the incident and wanted the Congress leadership to take note of the public resentment against Reddy. Congress president Sonia Gandhi had earlier sought a report on the incident from the state government.