It is now one year since it was constituted. But the Judicial Commission formed to review the compensation provided to the victims of the 1989 Bhagalpur riots is still without the most basic infrastructure any commission of inquiry requires.
The plight of the staff attached to the commission is even worse as they are not only having to do without furniture they can use to discharge their duties, they are also having to bear with much-delayed payment of salaries. However, there is one piece of good news in an otherwise depressing situation - the commission is all set to start its inquiry from May 31.
The commission has already received three extensions, the latest (of one year) being the extension it got in April. Sources said the commission, headed by Justice NN Singh, had been slow in making progress with the inquiry because it had to work without the needed infrastructure. To make matters worse, the Rs. 4.68 lakh allocated to the commission every year is yet to be released because of an objection raised by the office of Accountant General. The AG's office has sought clarification from the State Government as to why the money allocated to the commission had been sanctioned from the Emergency Fund.
However, the commission is going ahead with its first spot inquiry in Bhagalpur from May 31 when it will hold a public hearing during which victims of the'89 communal riots will be invited to submit their complaints regarding lack of adequate compensation for life and property lost during the riots.
Sources said the commission had already received 1400 applications so far from riot victims, most of which complained about the inadequate compensation that had been paid to them by the previous RJD Government, for losses suffered during the riots. Incidentally, the N N Commission was constituted by the State's NDA Government with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar emphasising that the commission's report would form the basis for a fresh rehabilitation policy that the State Government would draw up for the riot victims who, besides many other misfortunes, had suffered huge financial losses in 1989. The weaker sections of the Muslim population, especially weavers, had been the worst sufferers.
Kumar had also announced that the criminal cases lodged against the miscreants who were allegedly involved in the riots would be re-examined as many cases were earlier closed on questionable grounds.
The CM's announcement that criminal cases related to the riots would be re-opened had evoked strong protests from the RJD, which said the decision was part of the NDA Government's policy of seeking political vendetta.