THE JUSTICE Vishnu Sahai inquiry commission set up to probe the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots has blamed intelligence failure and laxity on the part of some top officials for the violence in western Uttar Pradesh that claimed over 60 lives.
The 700-page report was tabled by the state government in the assembly on Sunday. While no discussion could be held, the government distributed an eight-page action taken report which listed 14 factors, as cited by the probe panel, that led to the riots.
The inquiry commission, which scrutinised the action of 40 officials, named four officials — then Principal Secretary (Home) R M Srivastava, then Circle Officer Jansath Jagat Ram Joshi, then Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma and then Muzaffarnagar SSP Subhash Chandra Dubey.
However, it added that Srivastava and Joshi acted as per law, and could not be held responsible. According to the report, Srivastava transferred then Muzaffarnagar SSP Manzil Saini as per the state government’s order dated July 22, 2013, while Joshi instructed Inspector Jansath Shailendra Kumar Sharma to release persons booked under “crime number 403/2013” (related to the murder of two Hindu youths, Gaurav and Sachin, in Kawal).
“But it is also a fact that these officials also became a reason for the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat, Saharanpur and Meerut between August 27 to September 15 in 2013,” said the action taken report, quoting the commission.
Agreeing with the government, the commission found then SSP Subhash Chandra Dubey guilty of dereliction of duty and failure to prevent the incidents that led to the riots.
Dubey was suspended and a departmental inquiry has been re-opened against him.
It also held then Local Intelligence Unit Inspector Prabal Pratap Singh prima facie responsible, citing his failure to give correct intelligence inputs on the mahapanchayat held in Nagla Mandaur on September 7, 2013. The mahapanchayat was attended by 40,000-50,000 people, while intelligence inputs claimed that 15,000-20,000 people would attend it, it said.
The state government informed that Singh would face departmental action.
While it said that Sharma angered Hindus by accepting a memorandum from then BSP MP Kadir Rana in support of the Muslims on August 30, the commission added that he did not have any other option.
The state government said an explanation will be sought from Sharma on two issues — arrangements made by the district administration to control the crowd at the Nagla Mandaur mahapanchayat; and why the proceedings of the mahapanchayat, where some leaders made inflammatory speeches, were not videographed.
Among the other reasons cited for the riots are:
The deaths of a Muslim youth, Shahnawaz, and two Hindu youths, Gaurav and Sachin, in Kawal on August 27, 2013 led to polarisation of Hindus and Muslims at a time when several incidents had aggravated the communal divide in western UP, mainly in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli.
The transfers of then DM Surendra Singh and then SSP Manzil Saini, on August 27, 2013, led to resentment among the Hindus, mainly members of the Jat community.
The release of 14 people who were not named in the FIR related to the murders of Gaurav and Sachin was seen as an attempt by the government to favour the Muslim community.
The naming of Sachin and Gaurav’s family members in the FIR related to Shahnawaz’s death.
A video circulated on social media showing some youths being beaten up in a Taliban-held area was falsely linked to the Kawal incident.
Inflammatory speeches by leaders of both communities.
Failure of officials to prevent the panchayat at Nagla Mandaur.
Attack on Hindus at Bansikala who were on their way to attend the mahapanchyat.
Media also held responsible for “exagerrated” reports of the violence.
In the action taken report, the state government informed that a case against BJP MLA Sangeet Som and 229 others has been registered at Kotwali Muzaffarnagar for allegedly uploading an objectional video on You Tube. Hence no other action can be taken against him.
Similarly, a case has already been registered against Kadir Rana, Saeedulzama, Noor Saleem Rana, Rashid Siddiqui, Asad Zaman and others for using objectionable language on August 30.