The one-man judicial commission of inquiry that went into the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots – which left 62 people dead and around 50,000 displaced – is out with its report.
The 700-page report by Justice Vishnu Sahai Commission was tabled in the state assembly on Sunday.
These are the key findings:
- Polarisation along communal lines following the murder of two young Hindu men – Gaurav and Sachin – by a youth from minority community in Kawal town on August 27, 2013, was the trigger behind the riots.
- It is intelligence failure and laxity on the part of police that led to the violence.
- The riots took place as the the then Inspector of intelligence unit Prabal Pratap Singh failed to give exact figure of people going to attend a Mahapanchayat at Nagla Mandaur. While the Mahapanchayat was attended by 40,000-50,000 people, intelligence inputs claimed that 15,000-20,000 people would attend it. The Hindus, particularly Jats, returning from the Mahapanchayat were allegedly attacked by the minorities, fuelling tensions further.
- The proceedings of the Mahapanchayat were not recorded which puts a question mark on the decision taken by then District Magistrate Kushal Raj Sharma.
- There was laxity on the part of the then Senior Superintendent of Police Subhash Chandra Dubey, due to which violence spread to Saharanpur, Shamli, Baghpat and Meerut. Dubey should be suspended and departmental action should be taken against him.
- The media put out exaggerated reports and spreading rumours that fuelled violence.
- The report is silent on the role of the political leaders in the conflagration, which absolves the Samajwadi Party government of direct responsibility for the riots.
- The inquiry commission, which scrutinised the action of 40 officials, has named two more officials — then Principal Secretary (Home) R M Srivastava and then Circle Officer Jansath Jagat Ram Joshi. However, it says that Srivastava and Joshi acted as per law, and could not be held responsible. It is because while Srivastava transferred then Muzaffarnagar SSP Manzil Saini as per the state government’s order dated July 22, 2013, Joshi instructed Inspector Jansath Shailendra Kumar Sharma to release persons booked under “crime number 403/2013” (related to the murder of two Hindu youths, Gaurav and Sachin, in Kawal). “But it is also a fact that these officials also became a reason for the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat, Saharanpur and Meerut between August 27 to September 15 in 2013,” said the action taken report.
How political parties are reacting to the report:
- BJP says it’s incomplete
BJP rejected the report saying it is “incomplete” and demanded a CBI inquiry into the riots. BJP legislature party leader Suresh Khanna said, “The inquiry report is a mix of several semi-truths. It is one-sided and does not highlight the real culprits, reasons, causes of provocation and how it spread.”
“The SP government shifted the blame onto BJP and our seven senior leaders were detained without any reason. The real picture would have emerged if the commission had probed the incident thoroughly,” he said in a statement.
- Congress says not Centre but state government to blame
Congress’ Rita Bahuguna Joshi said, “The report is blaming the Centre that we didn’t give intelligence (inputs). Our home minister at that time had again and again said we provided information. The UP government cannot run away from its responsibility.”
- BSP says Akhilesh Yadav government responsible
BSP’s Sudhindra Bhadoria said the riots are the most “unfortunate” incident after Independence. “The CM is responsible for this…Since it happened under Akhilesh Yadav,” he said.
- Samajwadi Party blames the media
Senior SP leader Azam Khan sought to put the blame at the media’s door, saying it “over-exaggerated” the incident. “In America, you can’t show dead bodies and bloodshed,” he said.