A judicial commission set up to probe the communal violence in Kishtwar town of Jammu and Kashmir in August this year has absolved the then minister of state for home Sajjad Kitchloo of the charges of incitement.
Three people had died and about 100 shops were burnt in the main market of the town during the violent clashes on August 9, the day Eid was being celebrated.
Kitchloo, who had resigned on August 12, was re-inducted in the ministry and given the same portfolio today, a day after justice (retired) RS Gandhi submitted the report.
The BJP had accused him of inciting the trouble. The saffron party’s senior leader, Arun Jaitley, was prevented from visiting the town.
“As many as 71 people had filed affidavits against the minister. But when the commission read them out one by one, none of the persons owned up their own statements, even though the affidavits had their names and signatures,” said an official privy to the contents of the report.
Almost all the affidavits had been filed on the same day before the commission and had been attested by the same notary.
Even the 41 people who had filed affidavits in Kitchloo’s support didn’t own up their statements before the commission.
The commission had recorded statements of 357 witnesses. It was set up on Aug 23 and held its first official meeting on September 12.
The commission had recommended strengthening the Village Defence Committees (VDCs), whose role came in focus after the violence.
A VDC comprises a group of persons, mostly from minority Hindu community, armed by the security forces for self-defence against militants.
In the Kishtwar episode, several VDC members, accused of fanning the trouble, had been arrested and booked.
In its remarks on the role of the VDCs, the commission said,“Separatists have launched a vicious campaign against the VDCs. Evidence suggests that if they are not strengthened, there are chances that militancy may return and Kisthwar can become land of massacres.”
It had also suggested inducting Muslim ex-servicemen into VDCs without disturbing the existing ones.
BJP holds protests, calls for 48 hours bandh
State BJP chief Jugal Kishore Sharma said the party has called for a 48-hour bandh in Jammu against the decision to reinstate Kitchloo.
Sharma said the BJP will not take the minister’s rehabilitation on the basis of a “manipulated report” lying down and will mobilise the masses against the ruling NC-Congress alliance.
The BJP also opposed the commission’s suggestion to recruit Muslims in VDCs.