Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad on Tuesday blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani for the 1989 Bhagalpur riots in which over 1,000 people were killed.
A day after Bihar Congress president Anil Kumar Sharma demanded a probe into his role in the riots, Lalu Prasad deflected attention from himself and said: "It was L.K. Advani who was behind the Bhagalpur riots and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is his friend and protected him. Nitish appointed a new commission to probe the riots cases to give a clean chit to Advani."
He said at a press conference: "It was my government that appointed a three member commission to probe the riots, which directly blamed BJP's Advani."
The railways minister said he had repeatedly stated that the Bhagalpur riots were a creation of Advani's rath yatra (chariot campaign) the same year. It was, he added, the BJP's plank to create communal trouble. Congress leader Sharma has accused Lalu Prasad of protecting Kameshwar Yadav, one of those accused in the riots. He has alleged that Lalu Prasad instigated Kameshwar Yadav to carry out the riots to tarnish the image of the then Congress state government.
Kameshwar Yadav, accused of killing a Muslim shop owner with the help of his associates during the communal violence in Bhagalpur, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2007. However, he was given a citation for maintaining communal harmony by the state police in 2004 when the RJD was in power.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had in 2006 ordered a fresh probe into the 27 riot cases that had been closed by police citing lack of evidence. The riots erupted after a Hindu religious procession was stoned, allegedly by Muslims. Over 1,000 people, a majority of them Muslims, were killed in the month-long riots in Bhagalpur city in October 1989.
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