A week after the worst communal clashes in two decades engulfed Muzaffarnagar district, 130 km from New Delhi, the prime minister flew to the area with Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
"Efforts will be made to ensure that the strictest action be taken against those behind the (communal violence)," a grim faced Manmohan Singh said after touring some of the most affected places.
Manmohan Singh spoke to officials as he walked through Bassi Kalan village and later Tawli amid tight security.
At least 48 people were killed and more than 100 injured as the communal violence Sep 7-9 quickly spread to villages, forcing the state government to deploy the military.
The orgy also saw more than 43,000 people take shelter in makeshift centres as they fled their rural homes after coming under attack from mobs -- or because they feared violence.
Many of those who met the prime minister complained that the district administration and the state government did not extend to them the kind of support they should have.
"I, Soniaji and Rahul Gandhi have come here to share your grief and to
understand the magnitude of the violence," the prime minister told a group of journalists.
Caption: The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh meeting the affected people of violence in Muzaffarnagar district, at a relief camp, in Uttar Pradesh on September 16, 2013.
"This is a big incident and the culprits behind the incident must be brought to book. It is the government's responsibility to safeguard life and property so that people can again return to their homes."
He said his government would provide all necessary assistance to the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that victims of the violence got all help.
Speaking to residents of Budhana Road in Muzaffarnagar, the prime minister said: "Please maintain peace and calm."
Both Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi also stopped by the roadside to talk to villagers of Barvala.
The prime minister was all ears as distraught people met him. "I am here to share your pain," he said.
Manmohan Singh asked the state government to ensure the rehabilitation of the thousands forced to flee their homes.
He also told reporters that he expected the security scenario to improve.
"People behind such ghastly violence would be punished and all help extended to the UP government."
While Manmohan Singh spoke to Divisional Commissioner Bhuvnesh Kumar and District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma, Sonia Gandhi mingled with some women and sought to know the sequence of events.
Rahul Gandhi spoke to some youth.
He also asked Minister of State for Home Affairs R.P.N. Singh to take petitions from the people and address their issues.
Uttar Pradesh Governor B.L. Joshi and Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Ahmed Hasan accompanied the prime minister.
--IANS (Posted on 16-09-2013)