The inquiry panel that the Uttar Pradesh government had set up after a string of riots singed the state in 2013, starting with Muzaffarnagar, submitted its report on Wednesday, and the reaction of the two political parties mentioned in it — the ruling Samajwadi Party and the BJP, which is eyeing to win in the next assembly elections — has been on expected lines.
Both parties have junked the report and accused each other of starting the riots. But according to the report submitted by the retired judge of the Allahabad High Court, Vishnu Sahai, both parties are to be blamed for the violence. The same holds true for senior police officials and administrative officers — the steel frame the public often falls back on for their safety and security — for not taking timely action.
The riots left about 60 dead and over 40,000 homeless. Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik is expected to send the report to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who will then decide on its fate. The detailed 775-page report has recorded the accounts of 487 people.
The state government had also formed a special investigating team (SIT) in 2013, and in the last two years, a total of 567 cases related to the riots had been lodged. The SIT has already submitted its investigation report in all the cases barring nine. By all accounts, the material in Justice Sahai’s report, which is yet to be made public, will be explosive and politically damaging for both parties and there is little hope that it will ever be made public.
But by not doing so — and it is not difficult to understand why — the government would do a great disservice to the people and also keep the gates open for such conflagrations in the future.
The victims of the riots, mostly Muslims, are already agitated about the state of affairs: According to a report in HT on September 21, rape victims are struggling to get justice, and several thousands are still homeless. Scared of being attacked again, they are refusing to return to their villages.
Uttar Pradesh remains communally sensitive while politicians are busy settling scores, and saving their skin.