Authorities in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have removed more than 400 families from relief camps who fled religious riots in the town of Muzaffarnagar.

More than 4,000 people were living in five relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts since the violence in September in which a total of 65 people were killed in Hindu-Muslim clashes.

The riots, which were caused by the killing of three men over the harassment of a young woman, also led to the displacement of about 50,000 people, mainly Muslims.

Media reports said that despite the bitter cold, the families who had camped in the open were asked to leave by district officials within 24 hours on Tuesday.

Koshal Raj Sharma, the District Magistrate, said that 420 families were shifted from Loi village during the day and about 60 left in the evening, according to The Hindu newspaper.

District administration officials have said that the departing families from the camps in Loi village have been provided with food rations for the next ten days.

Reports said that the families had gathered their meagre belongings and cattle and were transported on government tempos and pickup trucks to nearby villages, while some of them took shelter at bus stands and open areas.

Camps of distress

Media reports from Sanjhak village in Muzaffarnagar said that the displaced families had not received help in the form of food rations or other assistance from the government. They had to cope in makeshift shelters on a graveyard.

Earlier, a report by a committee constituted by the state government said that at least 34 children, below the age of 12, died due to the cold.

Tensions escalated in the camps after a 20-year-old woman in the camp at Jogya Kheri village was reportedly gang-raped in November.

The state government has come under criticism after media reports highlighted the plight of those living in the camps. A number of opposition political leaders, who visited the camps, have criticised the government.

Source: Al Jazeera