Derailing Justice by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (March 16, 2016)

There is general feeling in India that if the government at the Centre, or in some state, wants to distract public attention from an issue, it forms an enquiry commission, which sees to it that justice is delayed, or derailed.

This is exactly what has happened in the case of the Justice Vishnu Sahai Commission investigating the fearsome Muzaffarnagar riots of August 2013, which led to the death of a 100 Muslims, extensive damage to property and nearly 100,000 Muslims forced to take refuge in camps. Some of them are still to return to their homes.

These riots were reminiscent of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 in its ferocity and use of riot techniques by the Institutionalised Riot Systems, controlled by a well-identified group. Like the 2002 Gujarat killings this massacre also helped BJP win handsomely in UP during the last parliamentary polls. Communal polarisation always, invariably, helps BJP electorally. Hence, the enthusiasm for such anti-minority violence in Sangh organisations.

The Muzaffarnagar killings were so severe (and the SP government in Lucknow so inactive and callous about stopping it that Muslims were sure of a nexus between Mulayam Singh and the Sangh) that the Centre, in its wisdom and to its eternal credit, ordered Central forces to be sent there on its own authority, without waiting for a formal request from UP, which, in fact, never came. On its arrival, the Central forces checked the riots.

The Sangh hand behind the killing is so clearly visible that even the Sahai Commission report, which is deficient on most counts, has identified Sangeet Singh Som, BJP MLA, as the mischief-maker number one. Som, as usual, was felicitated by different Sangh organisations for his role in organising the killings. Such endorsement of violent lawlessness is an old tradition of the Sangh, a glimpse of which was seen in Delhi recently when the lawyer who attacked Kanhaiya Kumar in court was felicitated by these elements.

Coming back to the commission’s report, it says that Som put a video of Pakistani Taliban on youtube in which two Pakistanis were murdered. Som claimed that the video showed two Hindu young men, Sachin and Gaurav, were being murdered in Muzaffarnagar. This inflamed Hindu passions that led to the massacre of Muslims. The report says Som and 229 others were responsible for the killings.

The report has not really indicted anyone for action, ostensibly because already there was an FIR lodged in this case, about which the report observes profoundly that until judgment the averment in the FIR will only be an “allegation.”

The state government, police and civil administration have been let off, which prompted the All India Muslim Council to file a PIL in the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court to ask for the report’s scrapping and the appointment of a new commission by the court, or the institution of a CBI enquiry. That means justice is still far away. 

 

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