Nitish-instituted probe into Bhagalpur riots opens a can of worms

PATNA: With just around two months left for the Bihar elections, the JD(U) government eyeing minority votes has tabled the Justice (retd) N N Singh Inquiry Commission that probed the Bhagalpur riots of 1989, in which more than 1,000 people were killed. The report calls the riots a “national shame”, adding that the violence was “barbaric”, an indictment of then Satyendra Narayan Sinha’s Congress government. The Congress is now an ally of the ruling JD(U), and the tabling of the report is bound to embarrass the party.

In fact, the Congress is not the only JD(U) partner that will suffer on account of the inquiry commission’s findings. The NN Singh commission was ordered in 2006 after the Lalu Prasad-instituted Justice S Patankar inquiry commission in 1990 had, according to Nitish, failed to provide succor to the riot victims.

While announcing the Singh commission, Kumar had slammed his bete noir-turned-ally Lalu Prasad in the strongest terms, going to the extent of charging that Prasad had encouraged some of the accused and perpetrators of the riots – a reference to Yadavs being at the forefront of the communally riven state in the late 1980s. The riots had also ended Congress’s hold over Muslim votes in Bihar, giving rise to Lalu’s brand of identity politics.

NN Singh commission’s terms of reference were: one, rehabilitation of the victims of violence who were predominantly Muslims; two, compensation for damage to property of the minority community; and, three outline preventive measures against such violence in the future.

The riots in Bhagalpur town began on October 24 in 1989 when countrywide preparations were on for a proposed ‘shila pujan’ at Ayodhya. The violence spread to rural areas of Bhagalpur and Banka districts, and could be controlled only by October 27 after the Army was called in after a three-day curfew.

Claimed over 1,000 lives, it was marked by arson, demolition of mosques, loot of shops and houses as well as distress sale of property and occupation of the lands of Muslims in duress.

The burial grounds were covered with cauliflower plantations to hide the evidence of killings.

Posted by on August 8, 2015. Filed under Regional. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.