New Delhi, Jan 18 IANS | 9 months ago

The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh was Saturday blamed by activists for mishandling the situation in Muzaffarnagar when communal riots broke out in the district last year and the poor condition in relief camps where the victims were housed.

"The riot affected are not going back to villages because the Uttar Pradesh police has not registered cases against people who looted and burnt houses. If Mulayam Singh is so secular then why hasn't he visited the camps even once," Shehzad Poonawalla, an activist who has been working with the riot victims, said at a discussion on the media's role in Muzaffarnagar riots at the Press Club of India here.

He alleged that it was "operation cover-up" by the state government.

"Their agenda is now to show that all is well," he said adding that the media has been soft on SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Poonawalla blamed the SP government for the poor condition in the relief camps and for mishandling the situation post riots.

The discussion 'Communal Violence - Has the Media Been Soft on Mulayam?' was organized by the Foundation for Media Professionals.

Beginning Aug 27 last year, clashes between the Hindus and Muslims of Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh claimed more than 40 lives.

Former Managing editor of IBN 7 news channel and Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Ashutosh said: "Uttar Pradesh is going to have a big role in 2014 election. If Narendra Modi and BJP have to win Delhi, then they have to make UP their laboratory".

Blaming the SP government for misgovernance, he said: "Akhilesh Yadav has not been able to run Uttar Pradesh".

The former journalist said: "There were intelligence reports on the riots but they were not worked upon. There has been a joke in the name of rehabilitation".

Farah Naqvi, member of the National Advisory Council, who has worked extensively on issues of communalism said: "Media has done a good job in Muzaffarnagar. The media focus this time is more on displacement than on the killings".

Observing that Indians have become used to riots, she questioned the "absolute silence" of civil society and media on the around 100 odd incidents of communal tension which she said took place in Uttar Pradesh before the Muzaffarnagar riots.

Defending his party, Madhukar Jetley, the sole representative of the Samajwadi Party, said none of the elected members of the SP were responsible for the violence in Muzaffarnagar.

"In Muzaffarnagar, the riots were not allowed to spread unlike in Gujarat. Media has been very hard on Mulayam Singh Yadav," he added.

(Posted on 18-01-2014)

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