Patna: The Commission headed by Justice (retired) N N Singh commenced its functioning from today to probe the 1989 communal riots in Bhagalpur.
The Commission will submit its report on the riots, which claimed over 1,000 lives and left in its wake a trail of devastation, within six months of its inception. However, the commission will be free to give an interim report before that.
The Bihar Government, yesterday, had appointed Justice N N Singh, , a retired judge of the Patna High Court, on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court Justice J N Bhatt.
For the post of the Secretary of the Commission, a retired District and Sessions Judge Baikunth Nath Shahi has been appointed. The Commission will be assist by the two legal experts, a retired District Judge Chandrashekar Sharma and Patna Bar Council President Rajendra Singh.
On February 24, in special meeting of the Nitish Kumar Cabinet, chaired by the Chief Minister, had decided to get 27 cases of the communal riots re-investigated to bring the guilty to justice and punish the officials responsible for their acquittal despite existence of solid evidences against them.
Kumar had said that in accordance with the decision taken by the Cabinet, he would be writing to Patna High Court Chief Justice J N Bhatt to nominate a serving or retired judge of the High Court for a one-member panel to be constituted under the Commission of Inquiry Act.
Referring to the terms of reference of the commission, Kumar had said that the commission would probe all Bhagalpur riot cases afresh and examine the manner in which the prosecution and investigation agencies carried out their duties resulting in closure of the cases against the accused.
We have identified 27 cases in which closure reports have been filed by the prosecution agencies despite sufficient evidence against the accused, Kumar said.
Kumar had said that the commission would find out the reasons and circumstances under which the investigating police officials produced insufficient evidences and uncorroborated facts which led to the closure of the cases.
All the documents will be thoroughly perused and charges will be framed against the officials found guilty of dereliction of duty, ineffectiveness and prejudice, Kumar said.
The commission would also examine whether properties were sold out under pressure by the victims in the riot-hit areas and, if so, steps would be taken to return such property to the rightful owner and identify those guilty of indulging in strong-arm tactics to take possession of such properties.
The Chief Minister had said the commission would suggest a rehabilitation package detailing measures that should be taken for restoration of the lands, houses and other properties which were forcibly occupied during the riots.
Referring to the R N Prasad Commission of Inquiry instituted during the erstwhile Rashtriya Janta Dal Government, Kumar had said that the new panel would look into the suggestions and recommendations made by the previous commission and measures taken thereof for rehabilitation of the victims.
He had said that the commission, which would independently carry out the probe, would also be asked to submit its recommendations to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future.
Fresh probe draws flak from VHP
Press Trust of India, Monday, February 27, 2006 at 1034 hours IST
Patna, February 27: Criticising the Nitish Kumar government for ordering a fresh judicial probe into the 1989 Bhagalpur riots, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Sunday alleged that the decision reflected the government’s efforts to ‘divert peoples’ attention’ from its failure to solve problems of power, drinking water and roads.
"It seems the Nitish Kumar government has nothing to show in development of road, power and drinking water in the state. To divert people’s attention from its failure, the government is trying to dig an old issue in the name of Bhagalpur riots," a VHP release quoting its senior vice-president Radha Mohan Singh said. "Constituting an inquiry commission over another will hardly serve any purpose other than appeasing the minority Muslim community," it said and described the decision as a ‘disdainful effort to woo the Muslims’. "It will be very difficult for the administration to collect evidences after a lapse of 16 years of the communal carnage that claimed over 1000 lives," it said. Questioning the rationale of constituting a fresh judicial inquiry into Bhagalpur riots, the VHP said that similar decisions should have been ordered into other communal riots in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Biharsharif and Sitamarhi in the past to unravel the truths.
The VHP warned the Nitish government ‘to desist from constituting probe committee and divide society in its bid to appease the minority Muslims," it said