Zee Media Bureau
Lucknow: Under intense criticism, Samajwadi Party`s prominent leader Azam Khan lashed out at the media for the negative coverage it gave to the "study tour" of the 17-member contingent of Uttar Pradesh ministers and officials led by him.
Khan, considered to be SP`s prominent Muslim face attacked the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), alleging alleged that media gave distorted reports under a "conspiracy by fascist forces" and even suggested they were "targeted" because a Muslim minister had led the delegation.
"We came when he had to come. Had you (media) given your advise earlier, we could have acted according to it," was the terse reaction of the the Urban Development Minister on queries about the early return of the delegation.
Addressing reporters, the urban development minister alleged a media house had launched a witch hunt against them after the state government refused to cede to their unfair demands.
He said that it was because of this that the study tour of legislators and ministers was linked to Muzaffarnagar.
Khan said India was a member of the Commonwealth and the United Nations and such tours were part of the exchange programmes to study the work culture of other countries.
"I am a Muslim. Had I not been leading the team, the hue and cry would not have been raised by media. It is for the fourth time I went as part of the Commonwealth delegation but this time I led it due to which media highlighted it," Khan said.
Asked whether it was morally correct to go on foreign tour when Muzaffarnagar riot victims were facing difficult situation in relief camps, Azam said that this was not the question.
"The tour had its own purpose.... The situation is under control there (in Muzaffarnagar). SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav were here (in UP).... The entire cabinet was here... Cabinet meetings were held... The government and administration were doing their work.
"Had I visited Muzaffarnagar, the fascist forces would have made the situation worse," he said.
When asked when he plans to go there, Khan said. "I am always there (in Muzaffarnagar).... Though physically I am not there but I think of them every time.... The people there know this", he said.
The opposition and the media had tore into the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) for the foreign tour saying it was unethical to go abroad when people were dying of cold in relief camps in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar.
More than 63 people were killed in the September 2013 clashes in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli and several thousand rendered homeless. Azam Khan is the minister in-charge of Muzaffarnagar but did not visit the city once and instead chose to go on a foreign trip.
With agencies inputs