Anger resurfaced in Muzaffarnagar after days of uneasy calm as Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav arrived on Sunday for a tour of riot-hit villages in a swarm of white Ambassadors and gun-toting security guards in black.
Angry slogans and protests greeted Yadav at some places as he went village to village in the district and in neighbouring Shamli district, meeting grieving families and promising action against the guilty.
“Bahut nuksaan hua hai (there has been a lot of damage),” he said thrice of the communal violence that has left 47 people dead and 40,000 displaced in the last week.
As the CM met the father of a boy, Shanawaz, killed in the clashes in Kaval village, a crowd gathered outside the house and started shouting slogans against the Samajwadi Party. “He met only a group of handpicked persons and didn’t hear the voice of the masses,” said locals Fakre Alam and Sajid Abid.
Interacting with a group of village elders in Malikpura, Yadav urged them to use their goodwill among the people and help the administration restore peace. He expressed grief over the killing of two youths from the village in Kaval on August 27, the incident that set off the cycle of violence.
“The families have lost their young members and their loss is irreparable. But I urge elders from both sides to sit together and help rebuild the atmosphere of trust and harmony,” he said.
Yadav announced compensation of `10 lakh and jobs for the families of the dead. He also assured financial support for the reconstruction of damaged houses.
Later, he flew to Kandhla in Shamli and also visited relief camps, where he directed officials to provide all essential facilities to the inmates.
Addressing the media at the end of the day, Yadav promised action on the basis of a judicial commission report but evaded an answer on the demand for a CBI probe into the riots. He rejected comparisons with the 2002 Godhra violence.
When his attention was drawn to increasing instances of molestation, so much so that girls had stopped going to school, Yadav said, “Security will be provided to girls who have decided to discontinue their studies so that they can attend classes without fear.”