//Marad riots: Kerala for CBI probe

Marad riots: Kerala for CBI probe

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Government has urged the Centre to have the communal riots that claimed 14 lives at the coastal village of Marad in Kozhikode district on January 4, 2002, and May 2, 2003, probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

At a press conference here on Wednesday, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the State Government had taken the decision on the basis of the recommendations of the Thomas P. Joseph Commission set up by the previous Government to inquire into the riots. (He addressed the press conference immediately after tabling the Commission's report, along with the Action Taken Report, in the Legislative Assembly.)

Mr. Balakrishnan said the State Government had written to the Union Government on September 12 recommending the CBI probe into the conspiracy behind the riots and issues such as the involvement of fundamentalist outfits, their foreign connections and source of funding and how they succeeded in secretly stockpiling weapons in the village for use in the riots.

"Unparalleled" incidents

The judicial inquiry commission had described the Marad riots as "unparalleled" incidents in its report and its first finding was that there was no justification whatsoever in the previous Government's disinclination to ask the CBI to probe the crime, Mr. Kodiyeri said. He said the Commission had also noted that the then Chief Minister, A. K. Antony, and the then Industries Minister, P. K. Kunhalikutty, were opposed to the proposal for a CBI probe.

The Commission names four top officials for having failed to take timely action to prevent the second of the two riots (on May 2, 2003). They are: the then District Collector of Kozhikode, T. O. Sooraj, Commissioner of Police Sanjiv Kumar Patjoshi, Assistant Commissioner of Police M. Abdul Raheem and Inspector-General of Police (Crimes) Mahesh Kumar Singla.

The Government has initiated action against Mr. Sooraj and Mr. Patjoshi under the provisions of the All India Service (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969, Mr. Kodiyeri said. Mr. Raheem is being proceeded against under the provisions of the Kerala Police Departmental Enquiries and Punishment and Appeal Rules, 1958. Earlier, when the Home Minister laid the Commission's report on the table of the Assembly, members from both the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) demanded a full-fledged discussion on it. Speaker K. Radhakrishnan said he would definitely allot time for such a discussion after consulting the Business Advisory Committee of the House.

The Commission, in its findings, described how a minor incident on the Marad beach during the New Year celebrations on December 31, 2001 had turned into a riot on January 4, 2002 "due to the intervention of the CPI(M), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and BJP/RSS activists.'' This was the first of the riots and it led to the death of five persons belonging to two communities.

“It is quite unlikely [that] those activists indulged in that act without the blessings of their respective leaderships, at least at the local level,'' the report said.