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A recent spurt in communal violence in Uttar Pradesh has brought the ruling Samajwadi Party in the crosshairs again, not long since it faced criticism over a string of rapes and murders. Accused of ineptness and partisanship, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has blamed his rivals of playing politics over religion.
Excerpts from an interview:
Why have there been so many communal riots since you came to power?
It is wrong to define them as communal riots. These are caste clashes over old disputes like construction of a roof of a gurudwara in Saharanpur. I have asked for the magistrates report as the matter was in the court. I have assured Punjab deputy CM of all possible assistance in resolving the crisis.
But Saharanpur is just one case? What about West UP?
People of different religious hues have been living together for ages. (But) today those who are in politics are raising religious issues, while some religious gurus are doing politics. However like-minded people who want communal amity to prevail have met in Saharanpur today to restore normalcy.
In other words you see BJP hand behind every clash?
Why should MP's, MLA's and their ministers clash over installation of a loudspeaker on a shrine when their government at the Centre is pushing technology , promising food on SMS orders in trains? Initially BJP leaders were fighting for the loudspeaker and now they want Moradabad SP removed even after the DM and other cops had sustained serious injuries. Is it justified? Who will trust them? If it is not politics, what is it? And then the Congress takes out a peace march. Who is creating disturbance?
Read: Saharanpur remains tense after clashes; 36 arrested
But accuse you and your government of minority appeasement? Is there trust deficit?
My government will not allow injustice with anyone. Maulana Kalbe Jawaab, whom we stopped in Lucknow, is a Muslim. The administration is not biased or partisan but as I am in power today, they have to defame me.
Read: Akhilesh Yadav ducks, blames BJP
You foresee a bigger conspiracy of toppling your government?
It's a democratically elected government and will complete its term.
What about women security?
We have taken some immediate steps – from moving to set up fast track courts to appointing a committee headed by a woman ADG to look into such cases. Though we take stern action in each and every case, my commitment is to prevent these crimes.
Why don't you hold an all-party meeting on law and order?
They don't allow the Vidhan Sabha to function normally. The Opposition is throwing spanner in attracting investment in the state by describing laptops as ' jhunjhuna' while holding processions to install loudspeakers. Is that how they want development in the state?
Akhilesh govt responsible for riots, says Shahnawaz
Post-riots curfew in place, jathedar takes stock at Saharanpur