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Bhagalpur riots commission report a big fraud

By Riaz Azimabadi

Should it be called government’s bankruptcy or dishonesty on the part of judges? After 26 years, once again the Bhagalpur Riots Report was put before the Bihar Assembly, on 7 August. Is he bureaucracy misleading the Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, or the is it trying to hatch a conspiracy to put all the blame on the current government? No doubt, when Nitish Kumar was under the influence of the BJP and cared little for Lalu Prasad, he had played an ugly joke.

Previously, the Bhagalpur Report was submitted in the assembly and it had been discussed there. At that time, the Lalu Prasad government had appointed an enquiry commission consisting of three judges, with Justice Ram Nandan Prasad as its head. The other members were Justice Shamsul-Hasan and Justice Ramchander Prasad. Jabir Hussain was the chairman of the Bihar legislative council at that time. In 1995, Lalu Prasad, as chief minister, presented the enquiry report in both the chambers of the Bihar Assembly. When Nitish Kumar took over as CM in 2005, he was influenced by anti-Lalu sentiments and the BJP influence was pre-dominant on him. At that time and circumstances, Nitish had planned to get the enquiry done afresh and malign Lalu to the most.

Now, submitting it after 26 years of the sordid events, what can be achieved by a new report? The fact is that Nitish has made it a habit to move between a particular class of persons. Far from the reality of life and considering himself above the rest, he has separated himself from the common man.

No doubt that the three-judge report had divergent views on the final outcome of the report. While Ram Nandan Prasad gave a clean chit to the BJP and its fellow-travellers, the rest of the two judges tried to bring the facts to the fore. That’s why two separate reports have been submitted. But, what has Justice N.P. Singh done after nine years? The criminals had already been pointed out before. What have the details of the incident done by way of increasing the knowledge of the common men?

During the long period of nine years, Justice N.P. Singh cared to travel only four times to Bhagalpur, while the expenditure on his commission came to a whopping 11 crore rupees. More than 15 thousand sufferers approached the commission, but the commission didn’t even care to meet them. The report, which was to be presented within six months, saw the light of the day after nine long years, with a big zero as a result.

As the beasts become fiercer after preying upon some animals and tasting the blood, the commissions habituatally enjoy lavish life at government expense.

What happens after the riots? Nalanda Muslims have already tasted the bitter experience. Muslims used to be the owners of the land here while the non-Muslims of backward castes were farm-workers. In the 1946 riots, village after village was destroyed and the land was occupied by the non-Muslim farm-workers. In some cases they even managed to get the signatures of the owners on papers, while the rest are owners without any signatures by the owners. The famous poet, nightingale of Bihar, Prof. Kaleem Aajiz, couldn’t forget his native village Tilhara till his last days. Aajiz was the lone survivor of his family during the 1946 riots.

The N.P. Singh commission was given the responsibility to point out how many cases of transfer of land took place as a result of the Bhagalpur riots and what prices were paid to the Muslim land owners. They were almost completely annihilated from the villages of Chanderi, Nauni and Naghmi, etc. They were buried in their fields without even shrouds, giving the non-Muslims a crop of cauliflowers from the same fields.

According to an information in Bhagalpur, there are still 300 thousand acres of land which are under illegal occupation by non-Muslims. But, the commission sat with its eyes shut and has unashamedly side-tracked the basic issues of the Muslim victims and survivors.

A few days before the submission of this report, Nitish Kumar, while inaugurating a full-size statue of the former chief minister of the state, Sitendra Narain Singh, had instructed the common man to follow in the foot-steps of the late leader. But, exactly three days later, by submitting the NP Singh Commission Report, Nitish termed the Sitendra government as “inept” administration.

After the Bhagalpur riots, the police did exactly what the Modi government is trying to do now in connection with the non-Muslim terrorists: to weaken the evidence in their cases and save them.

The then Bhagalpur Commissioner, Ashiq Ibrahimi’s statement has recently been published in some newspapers to which I agree. The then Bihar Law Minister, Shakeel Ahmad Khan, on the plea of maintaining communal harmony, had tried to save the murderers of Muslims. He had even ignored the advice of Ashiq Ibrahimi. In order to develop a new trend in the country, Lalu Prasad Yadav had tried through Shakeel Ahmad Khan to save the killers of Muslims in the country using an ingenious wisdom. The scheme was not to prosecute the rioters in order to maintain communal harmony! What it meant was that for the sake of their own security, Muslims who escaped carnage, should now forget their losses and should remain tongue-tied. A new message is underway now, which says, kill and destroy the Muslims, and ask for forgiveness in the name of communal harmony, after 10 years.

The fact is that the Nitish government did nothing for the sufferers of Bhagalpur carnage. Similarly, the Forbesganj victims of 2011 are still awaiting compensation for the riots and the judicial commission is still busy in the drama of “investigation” for the last six years. It needs to be investigated that just as Justice P.N. Singh’s Commission cost a hefty sum of 11 crores of rupees, what expenses are being paid to keep the Forbesganj Commission alive.

Claim of friendship on one side and the dagger on the other -- this is the new type of contemporary politics. Faithfulness is now found only in books. Nitish is an expert in this type of politics. He offers encomiums to Sitendra Narain Singh one day and terms him as the most inept chief minister the next day.

I still remember that during the Bhagalpur riots, Sitendra Babu, in  reply to a newsman in a press conference, had said “What should I do? The Bhagalpur officers are not listening to anything.” When I advised him to resign, he remained angry with me for a long time.

I’m still to study the Bhagalpur Riots Report received after 26 years, but I have come to the conclusion after reading its excerpts in the newspapers that the commission has chosen to remain silent on the basic question of transfer of land after the riots, and after devouring crores of rupees during the last ten years, only an ordinary report has been submitted.

The questions of the ownership of the land and of the houses in the villages where Muslims were completely annihilated, remain to be answered. What is the position of those mosques which have been converted into animal sheds and which have not been vacated as yet. The villages in which Muslims no longer exist, who are the owners of the land and houses of those villages? Which type of punishment did the government mete out to the police officers who had helped the non-Muslims in the murder of Muslims?

The former chief minister, Dr. Jagannath Mishra, in his written statement, has termed the N. Singh Commission Report as an ugly joke upon Muslims. The basic question was to pinpoint the criminals and award them the punishment they deserved and liberate the occupied lands, places of worship and the houses from the illegal occupants and hand them over to their rightful owners. But, no such action has been taken as yet.

It is the first incident in the history of independent India that two commissions were formed for one crime but yielded no results.

Dr. Mishra has referred to the 29 Dec., 1989 statement of Nitish Kumar in the Lok Sabha, in which Nitish had said, “I want to say that there are two groups of Muslim criminals in Bhagalpur, one that of Sultan and the other belongs to Ansaris. And the riots were started by these two groups. A bomb was thrown at SP, Bhagalpur in which many policemen were also injured. Bombs were thrown at “Ram Shila Poojan” and these two accused are still at large.” This statement was made by Nitish to please his BJP friends just two months after the riots. Dr. Mishra further said that the government failed to take any action on the commission report, nor paid any compensation to the victims.

The famous social activist of Bihar, Abu Qaisar, had organised people and pressed on the UPA government to pay compensation to Bhagalpur riots victims at the same rate at which the Central government had paid the riot victims of the Sikh community. Dr. Mishra blamed the commission that it allowed many cases to be closed down claiming lack of sufficient proof.

If Nitish wants to make progress with justice, he should be faithful to Muslims. In Forbesganj, as per the wishes of BJP supporters, Muslims were made target of riots. And then, neither Nitish, nor any Muslim minister of his cabinet, nor even the chairman of the state minority commission, went to enquire about the victims’ well-being. A judicial commission was instituted only for cooling down the situation. This commission is drawing salaries since the last five years for no work at all. Similarly, the sufferers of Azizpur riots are awaiting justice till today.

The report of the Bhagalpur riots is a joke and a means of playing with the sentiments of Muslims and it amounts to a joke with the suffering of the Muslim community. Please do not play politics with the helplessness of Muslims and please do not squander government money on useless commissions.   (Translated from Urdu by MG staff)   

See report on page 5    

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 september 2015 on page no. 1

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