Zee Media Bureau
Muzaffarnagar: More than a week after communal violence broke out in the Muzaffarnagar region claiming 47 lives, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday arrived in the violence-hit district of Uttar Pradesh amidst tight security.
Shortly after arriving here, the three were seen talking to riot-affected victims to get the firsthand account of what had happened and the relief and rescue operation started by the UP government to bring back normalcy.
Speaking to reporters, the PM termed the riots in Muzaffarnagar a "very tragic incident" and said, "those guilty must be punished."
The Prime Minister further stressed that it was the top priority of the central government to ensure that people displaced are sent back home.
"Providing security is duty of UP government. Central government will give all possible help to the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that those affected can return to their homes," the PM said in Bassi Kalan.
"We will ensure that the perpetrators of riots are given strict punishment," PM said.
The Prime Minister, Congress chief and her son also visited the riot-affected localities in Muzaffarnagar district today.
The trio stayed here for two hours during which they reportedly visited three relief camps where riot-hit people are taking shelter.
The Prime Minister, along with Sonia and Rahul, visited the residence of freelance journalist Rajesh Verma, who was among those killed in the violence.
PM and others met the family of the late journalist and assured ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakhs and educational aid for his children.
The violence has sent thousands fleeing from their homes in fear. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav visited the area yesterday and vowed to provide justice to the riot victims.
A strong posse of state policemen and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel will man each and every location in the city during the VVIP visit, official sources said.
The district administration had made elaborate arrangements for the PM`s visit with top officials from Lucknow camping here.
"Extra force has been provided to Meerut Zone for the Prime Minister`s visit," IG (Law and Order) RK Vishwakarma told reporters in Lucknow.
Additional Director General of Police OP Singh would be the incharge of the overall security, he said.
Around 4,000 personnel of PAC and RAF are already camping in the district, where situation is peaceful and no fresh incident has been reported.
The District Magistrate said schools will open from today for the first time after their closure was ordered in view of curfew clamped in the city on September 07.
Senior SP Praveen Kumar said, "After assessing the situation, we may plan to lift night curfew from the city (on Monday) or day after."
The Prime Minister had expressed deep anguish over the loss of lives in the violence.
He had announced compensation of Rs 200,000 to the kin of each of those killed in communal clashes.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who visited the district yesterday, was greeted with black flags and slogan shouting by angry villagers.
So far, 47 people have been killed in the violence. The situation is fast returning to normal. Curfew was relaxed on Sunday in three police station areas of Muzaffarnagar.
Around 40,000 people have taken refuge in more than 30 relief camps set up in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts.
Kawaal village is where an alleged incident of sexual harassment on August 27 led to three youths being killed.
A `mahapanchayat` or gathering of village councils was held a few days later, which led to communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and nearby areas, forcing the government to call in the Army to control the situation.
The state government has suspended Muzaffarnagar police chief, Subhash Chandra Dubey, and launched a departmental enquiry against him for failing to control the violence. The state government has already suspended six police officials earlier.
The Vishnu Sahay judicial panel is probing the communal violence.
Communal clashes erupted in Muzaffarnagar on September 07 after simmering discontent over a molestation case of August 27 which subsequently led to three people being killed in a clash.
(With Agency inputs)