‘Govt. taking all measures to provide rehabilitation, relief to victims’

With the Samajwadi Party government yet to recover from the after-shocks of the Muzaffarnagar communal riots, more than three months after the outbreak, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav has cautioned his officials to exercise restraint when commenting on the sensitive issue.

Principal Secretary (Home) Anil Kumar Gupta’s comment at a press briefing on Thursday that “nobody dies of cold,” said in the context of the child deaths in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli relief camps, drew a sharp criticism from the political parties.

Reacting to queries on the Principal Secretary’s comments, Mr. Yadav Chief Minister said on Friday that the officials should exercise extreme caution in the use of terms when describing an incident, or eventuality. The Chief Minister, who was talking to journalists after the Cabinet meeting, said comments, or statements by bureaucrats and officials, which were liable to embarrass the government, should be avoided.

Mr. Gupta, while giving information on the child deaths in the relief camps, based on the report of the fact-finding committee, had said 34 children died between September 7 and December 20, of which 10 to 12 children succumbed in the relief camps. Four children died of pneumonia. The cause of death was not due to cold, but due to diverse medical reasons, he said.

In reference to relief and rehabilitation of the Muzaffarnagar riot victims, Mr. Yadav said all the relevant and necessary measures were taken by the government. The Chief Minister said efforts were being made to persuade the displaced persons to return to their villages. Mr. Yadav slammed the attempts of political parties to politicise the issue.

Humanitarian assistance

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Javed Usmani has said that all humanitarian assistance would be provided to the displaced riot victims till the time they stayed in the relief camps. Simultaneously, steps would be taken to convince the displaced persons to return to their villages, he said. Steps would also be taken by the Muzaffarnagar and Shamli district administration to identify government buildings near the relief camps for shifting them to the concrete structures. Mr. Usmani clarified that displaced persons would not be pressured to leave the relief camps. Apart from the medical facilities, blankets and firewood were given to victims.

Referring to the different categories of persons in the relief camps, the Chief Secretary told journalists on Friday that among them were such persons who were being given the assurance by some local people that if they stay put in the camps the government land would be allotted to them.