The Liberhan Commission report has had a tremendous impact not just nationally but across the globe. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Serbians accused of war crimes in Bosnia are on hunger strike demanding they should be investigated by a commission headed by Justice Liberhan. “Mr Liberhan has the right kind of experience in the matter,” said the head of a delegation of genocidal Serbians. “Of course, he’s likely to take at least a couple of decades to submit the report,” he added, “but we’re prepared to wait.” Unreliable sources say Pakistan is so impressed with the report they have asked Liberhan to conduct their investigations into 26/11.
Literary types, however, are not so sure about the merits of the report. “I thought the delay was because he was writing the whole report in iambic pentameter,” said a Shakespearean scholar, “and I was terribly disappointed it was in prose.” “At the very least, it should have been in rhyming couplets or blank verse,” he sighed. “It’s best to read the report as a sort of whodunit,” said a fan of detective fiction, “although it lacks an evil mastermind.”
On being told that Liberhan had named 68 people in his report, he countered, “It’s not the same thing. How would you like a detective story that had 68 evil masterminds?” Others opined that instead of one commission submitting a report after 17 years, they should have had a series of commissions, like they had for the anti-Sikh riots. “For the anti-Sikh riots,” pointed out a historian, “they had the Marwah Commission, the Misra Commission, the Kapur Mittal Committee, the Jain Banerjee Committee, the Potti Rosha Committee, the Jain Aggarwal Committee, the Ahuja Committee, the Dhillon Committee, the Narula Committee and the Nanavati Commission, one after the other, so it was like a serial.”
A TV producer hoped that the Liberhan Committee too would have several sequels so that he could package it as a trilogy: ‘Liberhan: the Beginning’; ‘Son of Liberhan’; and ‘The Committee Strikes Back’.
Other authors have been jealous of the Rs 8 crore the report cost. “The report is 1,029 pages,” pointed out a famous author, “which means it cost Rs 77,745.38 per page.” “Even I don’t get paid at that rate,” he added sorrowfully. He urged the government to ask for its money back. “Moreover,” continued the author, warming to his theme, “if Liberhan wrote 1,029 pages in 17 years that makes it slightly more than a page per week.” He then asked whether I knew of any commissions to which he could be appointed.
Meanwhile, in a primary school in Delhi, young Bittu told his teacher he needed at least six months to do his homework, pointing to the Liberhan report as an example. When his teacher objected, Bittu threatened him with contempt of court.
Not everybody is so cynical, however. A politician said he was “revolted and scandalised by the anti-Sikh riots, vexed and mortified by the fall of the Babri Masjid, pained and hurt by the ensuing riots and bomb blasts, saddened and distressed by the Gujarat riots and will no doubt be disgusted and nauseated by such acts in future.”
Sources say the government is considering setting up a commission which will probe into why Liberhan took so long to submit his report and present its findings within six months. Commission watchers point out, though, that if Liberhan could extend his three month deadline to seventeen years, this new report should take thirty four years.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal