Muzaffarnagar: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav held a cabinet meeting today as he battles the demand that central rule be imposed in the state for his government's alleged failure to check the communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar that killed 31 people in three days.
After the meeting Mr Yadav said forces were deployed to ensure there is no more violence and promised help for the "thousands of refugees who left their home." He also reiterated that those guilty of inciting communal violence would be severely punished.
The CM, however, offered no comment on Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's statement that he had warned Mr Yadav of the growing tension hours before the rioting began on Saturday last. "On Saturday I spoke to the Chief Minister at 12:30 pm and told him we have information that the meeting is on and the situation is tense," Mr Shinde said, referring to a large gathering of farmers where incendiary speeches were allegedly made.
The gathering, or mahapanchayat, was held to demand justice for two Jat brothers who were lynched after they shot a Muslim boy for harassing their sister in the village of Kawal. After the mahapanchayat, the farmers were attacked on their way home, triggering an angry backlash. Clashes then spiraled into rioting in several villages.
As his son Akhilesh attempts damage control, there has been speculation that SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav will postpone a two-day meeting of his party's national executive to discuss strategy for the 2014 general elections. Sources said for now, the meeting is on and will be held in Agra from tomorrow.
Parties like the BJP, BSP and RLD have demanded that the Samajwadi Party government be sacked, but sources say the Centre, which is propped up by the SP's 22 MPs, is not inclined to take any big step. Instead, the home ministry has asked the UP government to report every 12 hours on the situation in Muzaffarnagar.
Amid the raging political blame-game, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh phoned Akhilesh Yadav to ask what he was doing to restore calm. A report from state governor accusing the state government of failing to preserve communal harmony, has added pressure on Mr Yadav to act decisively.