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U.P. minority panelís clean chit to the PAC
By Obaid Nasir, Lucknow

Rubbing salt to wounds the state Minorities Commission gave a clean chit to notorious PAC for its role in recent riots in Kanpur. The Commission in its findings submitted to the Chief Minister on 17 April said that the police resorted to firing in self defence and there is no truth in the allegation that it acted in partial and communal manner. The Commission has based its report on the story of a private TV channel the city cable and the submissions of the district, officers. It has never bothered to go deeply into the matter and present a true picture before the state government and the public. The report may be termed as the first of its kind by the Minority Commission not only of UP but of all other states as well.

The state minority commission which was a silent spectator during the police action in Kanpur suddenly awakened and went into the details of the riot only to blame the Muslims for the communal strife and save the PAC whose role in every communal riot that took place in UP has always been criticized not only by Muslims but by all the saner elements of the society.

The commission is headed by a noted industrialist Irshad Mirza who himself belongs to Kanpur but did not bother to visit the troubled areas during the riots to assuage the hurt feelings of people of his community. In order to silence his critics he called a meeting of District officers to have the first-hand information of the riot and declared that a thorough probe will be conducted once normalcy returns to the city. What the representatives of the district administration would have told the commission is anybodyís guess. Unfortunately Mirza acted on the dotted lines and refused to keep open his eyes and ears, if not as a Muslim, even as a responsible citizen of the country. He never bothered to meet the victims and visit the affected areas.

The commission, it seems, has not cross examined the officers and blindly accepted their versions. For example they could not get any convincing reply as to why, before shooting orders, other options like lathi charge, tear gas, water cannon etc were not used? Who issued the shooting order, if the mob was uncontrollable etc.
The commission has accepted the administrationís version that only 14 persons were killed out of which 11 were Muslims and three including the ADM Pathak were Hindus, whereas from all available information more than thirty persons were killed and all of them except Pathak were Muslims. Moreover, commission did not take cognizance of the large scale, one-sided arrests and police brutalities to these unlucky Muslim youths. Regarding loot and arsons the commission also accepted the administrationís contention that 106 shops were gutted and that the loot and arson in Bangle Market, Shoe Market, Eggs Market etc has not been considered worth mentioning.

At the fag end of his tenure as the chairman of the Minority Commission which the BJP government of Uttar Pradesh has very cleverly converted into a showpiece. Mr Irshad Mirza has blackened his own face. The Muslim community did not expect moon from the commission but was certainly expecting that insult will not be added to their injuries and the true picture will be presented before the government and the public. People still remember the tenure of Mr Tahir Asharfi who, within a short span of one year, made the commission a dependable organization for the minorities. During that period officers were compelled to give due respect to the Commission and its notices were treated with great respect. This correspondent is the eye witness to many such cases where even the senior most bureaucrats were made to sit in the visitors room to face the commission and its Chairman and to explain before him their various acts of omission and commission with regard to minorities particularly Muslims. Perhaps it was the "over active" commission headed by Tahir Ashrafi that compelled the then Chief Minister Kalyan Singh to tame it and he played the trick of shortening its duration from three to one year, thus getting rid of Tahir Ashrafi and rendering this 'unwanted' organization into a show piece. Mirza proved to be the last nail in the coffin.

The irony of this affair is that on the one hand, Rajnath Singh is being commended for his leniency towards the riot victims, while Mirza is being dubbed a RSS agent. What a comedy of a tragic situation.

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