Lucknow: The Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh has come under stinging attack for organising its annual event, the extravagant 'Saifai Mahotsav', and sending a group of its MLAs for a study tour to foreign countries at a time when the future of Muzaffarnagar riot victims remains uncertain, with several of them forced to leave the relief camps.
In the wake of the rising criticism over the Saifai carnival, the Samajwadi Party government of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday banned TV crews from entering the festival. However, in the evening, mediapersons were allowed to enter the venue.
Bollywood stars Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit are all set to perform during the concluding ceremony of the 15-day long event in Saifai. Actors Soha Ali Khan and Ranveer Singh are also slated to attend the event at Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's native village.
Akhilesh Yadav, however, defended the event saying it was a party tradition. Party leader Azam Khan also defended it saying that his party had never ignored the riot victims.
Ironically, till now both Mulayam Singh and Azam Khan have not visited the relief camps.
"Mulayam Singh and I had planned to go there together but this will cause trouble to the people. If you go there and ask, I don't think you will find a single person who will blame us for not visiting. In fact they know that our visit would've caused more trouble rather than helping them," Azam Khan said.
On one hand, the government has turned a blind eye towards the future of the riot victioms and on the other, the state is taking its 20 MLAs led by Azam Khan on a government-sponsored international study tour. Over 20 MLAs will leave on Wednesday on a tour which covers five countries in 20 days.
Defending the party's study tour decision, Azam Khan said, "It's a study tour. You said it yourself. Shouldn't leaders go out and study?"
The MLAs will travel to Turkey, Greece, UK, UAE and the Netherlands. The government is facing sharp criticism from the Opposition over how can thr state afford such a trip while the it hasn't done enough for the Muzaffarnagar riot victims.
Reacting to the study tour of UP MLAs, Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh said, "I am not against foreign study tours. But when there is a crisis in the state, that is not the time to go on a foreign study tour."
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government has filed cases against eight Muzaffarnagar riot victims in Shamli for not vacating relief camps. The FIR has been filed after the victims reportedly built a make-shift relief camp and refused to go back to their respective villages.
The camp in question was set up on the government land in Kairana in Shamli. Last week, victims living in Malakpur relief camp in Shamli, too, refused to leave citing unavailability of any safe place for them. The victims not only lack a safe place to reside, but are also battling the cold wave which has gripped the entire north India.
More than 60 persons were killed and over 40,000 were displaced in communal violence that broke out in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas in September 2013.