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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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Moradabad killings stall Lok Sabha

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JULY 30. The Lok Sabha was adjourned today for two hours as the Congress and the Samajwadi Party sought to raise during zero hour the issue of the recent killing of six persons belonging to a minority community in Moradabad. Even as Mr. Madhavrao Scindia, Deputy Leader of the Congress, tried to link the killings to a larger pattern of a ``sharp deterioration in the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh'', he was heckled by the BJP benches, leading to pandemonium.

As the BJP members refused to allow Mr. Scindia to speak, the Congress and SP members trooped into the well of the House and refused to go back to their seats, prompting the Speaker, Mr. G.M.C. Balayogi, to adjourn the House till 2 p.m.

In the Rajya Sabha, the AICC general secretary, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, brought up the issue during zero hour and demanded a judicial probe. In response, the Minister for State for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. O. Rajagopal, said the Home Minister would make a statement on Wednesday.

Pointing out that the incident should not be treated as a mere law and order issue, the CPI(M)'s Mr. Nilotpal Basu said the House had every right to know what happened. The Government was delaying making a statement though the issue was raised last week, he added. Reiterating its demand for a judicial inquiry into the killings, the CPI(M) said it had no faith in the police probe ordered.

Mr. Azad, who was part of a 14-member Congress delegation to Moradabad, later said at a news conference that the dead included women and children. Apart from the six who were killed, 13 persons were seriously injured.

The attackers had rendered the victims unconscious by stuffing their noses with cotton wool and some women were raped before being done to death. Many of the injured were in coma and three or four persons in a critical state, he said.

The Congress rejected the State police claim that the incident could be a dacoity since the victims were poor with sparse belongings not worth over Rs. 1,000.

Commenting on the police inaction, Mr. Azad said even eight days after the incident police had not collected the blood- stained clothes of the victims lying in the area of the incident, and till date no arrests were made. However, a belt, a cap and few stars belonging to police personnel were ``removed'' from the site where a woman was allegedly raped, he said.

The Congress gave Rs. 25,000 to the next of kin of those killed and Rs. 4,000 to the injured. Mr. Azad criticised the State Government stating that it did not grant compensation to the injured being treated at private hospitals.

Pointing out that the Uttar Pradesh Government had not taken action, the Congress said incidence of attacks against minorities and Dalits were on the rise in the State.

The party president, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, initially sent a three- member delegation to Moradabad consisting of MPs, Begum Noor Bano, Mr. Sujan Singh Bundela and Mr Khan Ghufran Zaidi, and followed it up by despatching a 14-member team last Saturday which included 11 MPs. A similar charge of police collusion in the killings was made by Mr. G. M. Banatwalla, president of the Indian Union Muslim league. After visiting the area, he alleged in a statement that the violence was ``a result of the anti- Muslim campaign let loose by anti-minority forces.''

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