With the Akhilesh Yadav’s government coming under attack for failing to provide succor to hundreds of riot-hit people, the Centre on Monday sent yet another letter to the Uttar Pradesh government seeking details of children who have succumbed to death due to pitiable living conditions and severe cold in Muzaffarnagar relief camps.
The letter, fourth since December 11, comes in the wake of a high-level committee constituted by UP government reporting death of at least 34 children below the age of 12 years in the relief camps of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli between September 7 and December 20.
The letter sent by the human rights division of the union home ministry has asked the state government about the number of children who have died so far at the relief camps, the reasons for their deaths and the steps taken to prevent further casualties.
“We have sent four letters, beginning December 11. The latest one was sent today. However, UP government has ignored all our queries so far,” a senior union home ministry official said on Monday.
During his visit last week to the area, some displaced persons at these shelters told Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi that 23 children had died at the relief camps due to the cold, especially as they lacked warm clothes.
The Bahujan Samaj Party had continuously disrupted proceedings during the recently-concluded winter session of Parliament, claiming that the death of a large number of children at the relief camps had been caused due to the apathy of the state government.
On Monday, BSP chief Mayawati attacked the Akhilesh Yadav government saying instead of taking stern action against rioters it was “bulldozing” the relief camps during biting cold. “At a time when displaced people have been forced to spend their days in the cold leaving their homes because of lax and incapable SP government, the most inhuman act of bulldozing their relief camps under these cold conditions has also begun,” she said. She also condemned the statement by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav terming victims living in relief camps as “conspirators” and said that instead of being sensitive toward victims the SP is levelling baseless allegations in order to hide their failures.
However, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav instead accused the political leaders who visited the relief camps of not coming forward for help. “Big leaders went to Muzaffarnagar after riots... Requested them to move a step forward...but nobody came forward. We are in the government, we are taking required steps,” Yadav told reporters at Lucknow on Monday in a reply to a question. He claimed that there was “sort of competition among these leaders to get in news, but nobody came for help”.
He appealed the people of the state, specially youth, to donate in the chief minister’s relief fund if they wish to help the riot victims. “We will distribute the fund among the children and their families,” he said.
— With agency inputs