Only riots panel, but no action

The report of the inquiry panel, which probed the communal riots that happened in Muzaffarnagar in UP in 2013, is set to go the way of the reports of most such commissions set up in the past. A judicial commission headed by a former Allahabad high court judge, Vishnu Sahai, was appointed after the riots to investigate them and fix responsibility for them. The panel submitted its report to the UP governor last week but it has not been officially made public. But the main findings of the commission are now available with the media, and their authenticity has not been questioned. The report has blamed both the BJP and the Samajwadi Party, indicted local politicians and faulted police and administration officials for their lapses. The BJP has since then formed the government at the Centre and an SP government is in power in UP.

The Muzaffarnagar riots were the most serious communal riots of the recent past in which over 60 people were killed and over 60,000 people were displaced. The riots took place before the 2014 general elections and created a sharp communal polarisation in UP, especially in western UP. Both the BJP and the Samajwadi Party have cynically made use of the riots for political purposes in their own ways. Both parties have rejected the report. They have blamed each other for starting the riots. The BJP has called it biased and called for a CBI inquiry into the riots. With the governor being a BJP veteran and the state government run by the SP, it is almost certain that no action will be taken on the report. The report may not be made public at all. The reports of several other commissions which were inconvenient to the governments at the Centre and in states have been similarly buried in the past.


Governments have not taken follow-up action even when reports have been made public. It again raises questions about the usefulness of enquiry commissions. Governments set up commissions not to find out the truth but to bury it under a report which comes months or years later, and after public attention has shifted. Hundreds of cases related to the Muzaffarnagar riots are still languishing. One of the accused who had spent time in jail, Sanjeev Balyan, is a minister at the Centre now. It is unlikely that the victims, including rape victims, their relatives and the thousands of displaced people who are still afraid to go back to their homes, will ever get justice.

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