India

Indian media: Akhilesh Yadav criticised over Muzaffarnagar riots

Akhilesh Yadav, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, is receiving criticism for "ignoring" riot victims Image copyright AFP
Image caption Media are criticising Akhilesh Yadav, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, for "ignoring" riot victims

Media in India are criticising the Uttar Pradesh government and the state Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for sending some legislators on a "foreign junket" and hosting a Bollywood festival at a time when riot victims are suffering in relief camps.

The northern state's Muzaffarnagar district witnessed "horrific" Hindu-Muslim clashes in September last year, forcing many to flee their homes and take shelter in government relief camps.

The victims have complained that they have been asked to leave the camps amid a severe cold wave that has made their lives more difficult.

Despite criticism from the media and opposition parties, Mr Yadav's Samajwadi Party government went ahead and hosted what papers described as an "insensitive display of song and dance".

The Times of India says "the grandiose celebrations at the annual Saifai Mahotsav (festival at the birthplace of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav) are inappropriate" because the "riot victims have been left to fend for themselves in the cold".

Papers feel the legislators' foreign tour further shows the state government's "crude insensitivity".

"On the one hand, the government has turned a blind eye towards the future of the riot victims and on the other, the state is taking 20 legislators led by [state minister] Azam Khan on a government-sponsored international study tour," says the CNN-IBN website.

The Zee News website says the festival and trips come "at a time when hundreds of victims of Muzaffarnagar riots are living in difficult circumstances in relief camps and others are suffering due to extreme weather conditions".

Temple tribute

In defence news, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday made a "rare visit" to the army headquarters to review the preparedness of the armed forces, The New Indian Express reports.

The visit comes at a time when media reports suggest that Chinese troops have increased incursions along the de facto border known as the Line of Actual Control, The Economic Times reports.

The security preparedness also comes amid concerns of terror groups creating problems in the region in the backdrop of the US pull-out from Afghanistan, the report adds.

Moving on to some domestic news, Ruhail Afzal Sheikh, a journalism graduate from Indian-administered Kashmir's Kupwara district, has missed his "dream internship" with The Guardian newspaper after he was denied a passport by the government, The Rising Kashmir reports.

Mr Sheikh was denied the document on the grounds that his father, Muhammad Afzal Sheikh, spent 15 years in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the report adds.

"It is like you have a dream and the government knowingly kills that dream inside you," the paper quotes Mr Sheikh as saying.

And in some news from the world of technology, a group of students from the Indian Institute of Technology have come up with a device and a mobile application that will "help blind people negotiate buildings and even streets" with ease, The Hindustan Times reports.

The device consists of three parts - a waist-worn device, sensors installed on walls, and a communication application that works on Android-run smartphones.

Meanwhile, women's rights activist Laxmi, who survived an acid attack in 2006, has found "a partner in life", The Hindustan Times reports.

Social activist Alok Dixit, who runs a campaign on social media platforms against acid attacks, said he was "bowled over" by Laxmi's fighting spirit.

"Unlike other girls who shy away from society and usually move about with covered faces, Laxmi moved freely with an open face. I saw a fighter in her and gradually we fell in love," he said.

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