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EDITORIAL: 16-31 May 2000

Maliana: A never-ending betrayal

Betrayed..helpless..tortured..abandoned. No, these words do not fully depict what befell upon the hapless people of Meerut and Maliana thirteen years ago. The bitter memories of those unforgettable days still haunt the survivors. People who witnessed the communal carnage and the dance macabre of forces charged with taking care of law and order in the communally super-sensitive town of Meerut are still running from pillar to post to get their grievances heard. None, whoever be at the helm has made any difference to the plight of these betrayed people all these years. Springs come and go unnoticed by these victims of riots, but make no difference for these depressed souls, who are still haunted by those dreadful memories.

Not too different is the story of those who suffered in the riots following the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992-93 in Mumbai, the country’s tinsel town. Horror haunts them day in and day out. They cannot turn their heads and forget the moments when they lost their children, husbands, brothers and fathers, at the hands of rampaging mobs. Men in khaki, who are meant to protect the common people from anti-social elements helped them from behind the scene and at times openly firing at peaceful people. Places of worship, too, had to bear the brunt of these law enforcing agencies. Seven long years have lapsed when the riots ravaged the megapolis. Several inquiries and commissions have not helped the victims get an iota of justice from our politicians or judiciary. 

No two states and their governments are alike. But similarity and close resemblance in the aftermath of the violence and torture, it forces the victims to take stock as to what made these two governments in two different states behave in an amazingly similar manner. Be it Sri Krishna Commission or inquiry by independent groups like People’s Human Rights Tribunal by two retired judges of the Bombay High Court, Mr. Hobes Suresh and Mr. SM Daud, everyone had indicted several leading politicians, including Sarpotdar, who caused the killing of several people in Radhabai Chawl or Shiv Sena suupremo Bal Thakre, who inflamed the city by his inflammatory writings.Despite all proofs and clear evidences all these people roam freely and are protected by the law enforcing agencies. It is reported that Bal Thakre enjoys best securioty after the President and the Prime Minister of the country!

The report of People’s Rights Commission has also accused as many as 60 top officials in the police department of committing atrocities against people. These include the former Bombay police commissioner RD Tayagi and DCP (Narcotics) Hemant Karkare. But instead of punishing these officials, they were rewarded by promotions for what good they had done to the poor and hapless people. 

In Meerut’s case too the CBCID reports had indicted 60 PAC personnel. First the UP government tried to shield all these culprits. It exempted 41 police personnel and only 19 names were cleared for prosecution. The court sent 18 non-bailable warrants against these 19 people, but the state government on all these occasions failed to act. 

The Gian Prakash Commission had recommended that special courts should be set up in order to speedily prosecute the accused. It had also recommended a recruitment scheme for persons from the minority community to instill confidence in the police force. But both these recommendations have apparently been shelved for reasons unknown. Not to talk of punishing the guilty, even the customary compensation has so far eluded most of the victims of Meerut and Maliana riots. 

One never ceases to wonder as to what is the status of the second largest community in India. Are they meant to be exploited, tortured and suppressed? Are their business houses and shops meant to be torched by rampaging mobs? Are their schools, religious seminaries and colleges there to be raided by cops in the dark of night? Are their places of worship to be either claimed by others or demolished by mobs who can defy with impunity every law of the land?..

When our Sikh brethren, who had to face similar treatment in 1984, were compensated by the government and culprits brought to justice, a ray of hope kindled deep inside our hearts: perhaps we too will get justice and similar treatment in future from the government. But our hopes vaporated quickly. Apparently nothing has changed in the world’s largest democracy (SUR).


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