[Wednesday, June 02, 2004 12:29:53 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK]
ALLAHABAD: Hundreds of shanties were reduced to ashes. Seven persons, including four children, were burnt to death on Sunday afternoon. The city was shocked.
However, politicians reached the site a day later, on Monday. "They gave the affected people slogans instead of bread," said Siddhartha, a financial consultant. Three prominent politicians, former Union HRD minister MM Joshi (BJP), CLP leader Promod Tiwari (Congress) and newly elected MP from Allahabad Reoti Raman Singh (SP) were all there to console the Kareli fire tragedy affected people.
It took them a full day to realize the gravity of the loss. The dead provided fodder for politics.
Loss of the minority community was a godsend opportunity for political parties. However, the sympathy that the leaders of various hues expressed was more of a lip service.
Where they were when they were needed the most? The chink in their armour was, therefore, visible, felt political observers. Singh paid Rs 50,000 to next of kin of each deceased. The cheques were handed over on Monday. He assured them compensation of Rs 1 lakh, other than Rs 50,000 to the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 to those with minor injuries. An ex gratia payment of Rs 6,000 was made to all who suffered loss. Land for their rehabilitation is also on the cards.