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Probe? Or just a guided tour?

THE TWO-MEMBER probe panel set up by the State Government to probe Friday?s communal flare-up visited the affected localities on Sunday to make an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. The panel, however, also took along with them those in the line of fire. The inquiry team in question comprises Agriculture Production Commissioner NC Bajpai and Additional Director General of Police (ADG) Bua Singh.

india Updated: Mar 06, 2006 00:30 IST

THE TWO-MEMBER probe panel set up by the State Government to probe Friday’s communal flare-up visited the affected localities on Sunday to make an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. The panel, however, also took along with them those in the line of fire.

The inquiry team in question comprises Agriculture Production Commissioner NC Bajpai and Additional Director General of Police (ADG) Bua Singh. And those who helped them with the investigation on Sunday included District Magistrate RN Tripathi and SSP Ashutosh Pandey, whose role in handling the situation is itself a subject of investigation. Though, the DM remained in the background, SSP Pandey virtually took the probe team on a guided tour of the riot-torn areas.

Not surprising therefore, residents of the affected localities, who had gathered in large number to narrate the sequence of event to the officers, questioned the impartiality of the investigation when those accountable for the disturbances were seen assisting in steering its course. The panel has already recorded the statements of both the DM and the SSP.

The three-hour-long whistle-stop tour by the probe team began at 5.15 pm from Qaiserbagh Kotwali. Both Bajpai and Singh remained closetted with senior administration and police officers for over 45 minutes inside the anteroom of SP (West) before the VIP cavalcade sped off towards Latouche Road. The first stop was Khalsa Gun House on Latouche Road where SSP Pandey told the two-member team the first casualty of the riot had occurred. A crowd soon began collecting at the site.

After watching the proceedings for a while, a couple of vegetable vendors finally managed to muster enough courage to approach the officers with their own version of how the trouble began. But they were politely told by the APC that he would call them to record their statements later.

The team then, reached main Aminabad Crossing. Once again SSP Ashutosh Pandey summarised the incident and what went wrong in the locality. Next stop was the Bank of Baroda building that still bore the scars of Friday’s communal frenzy.

The chief manager of the BOB lamented despite several reminders they were yet to get an arms license from the administration for the bank’s security personnel. IG OP Tripathi promised to look into the matter. The procedure was repeated at Mahesh Prasad Street in Moulviganj where a boy was killed.

The APC took down the notes all through the investigation; the ADG did most of the questioning. The probe panel has been asked to submit its report within two working days by the State Government.

The deadline ends on Monday. Where is the time to record the statement of witnesses? As for determining lapses and fixing accountability, two officials have been transferred while an inspector has already been placed under suspension. The only procedural formality that remained was completed on Sunday. Is anybody interested in the outcome?

First Published: Mar 06, 2006 00:30 IST