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Dec 27, 2013 at 12:55pm IST

Muzaffarnagar relief camps: UP Home Secy says 'nobody dies of cold'

Lucknow: There is embarrassment and denial by the UP government after a committee set up by it to probe deaths in relief camps submitted its report. The UP Principal Secretary for Home Anil Gupta has said people do not die of cold.

"Children have died of pneumonia, not of cold. Nobody can die of cold. If people died of cold, nobody would have been alive in Siberia," Gupta said while commenting on relief camp deaths.

This even as a UP government report confirmed that 34 children died in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in the relief camps for riot victims.

Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi called the remark insensitive and said, "It's a very insensitive statement and it clearly speaks out of a callous attitude of the state government. The government should provide better facilities and care, instead of accusing them of being conspirators."

The UP government, however, defended him saying the statement has been misinterpreted. "This is misinterpretation of statements. Government has taken all the measures required," said Madhukar Jaitley, Advisor to UP CM Akhilesh Yadav.

The UP report even trashes SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's theory that the camps are full of Congress and BJP conspirators.

Mulayam Singh Yadav had sparked off a controversy by saying that there are no riot victims in the relief camps but those taking shelter are BJP and Congress supporters who have conspired to malign the Uttar Pradesh government. The remarks came a day after Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi visited the relief camps set up for Muzaffarnagar riots victims.

Mulayam had said, "Those in the camps are not victims. These are conspirators along with BJP and Congress. Rahul wants to keep the issue alive for elections."

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the UP Chief Secretary and the District Magistrates of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli on the issue.