Two years after the Gopalgarh riots rocked Rajasthan, the case has again hit headlines after the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the case, closed 14 of the 19 First Information Reports filed in connection with the riots.
All the FIRs that had been lodged by the victims and eyewitnesses, who belong to the Meo Muslim community, have been ruled out by the CBI.
This has raised the heckles of activists and minority organisations, who have accused the government of foul play.
The incident, a month away from state polls, could have serious political implications for the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan.
The riots were triggered when the dispute over an Eidgah land took a nasty turn on September 14, 2011. The incident culminated in a conflict between Meos and members of the Gurjar community.
Ten people were killed and 45 injured when police had fired several rounds to quell the riots.
Minority organisations have claimed that all the deceased victims and most of the injured belong to the Meo community.
Several FIRs were filed in the wake of the incident; 14 of them by members of the Meo community and five by police.
The FIRs filed by members of the Meo community had named officials who had allegedly joined hands with the Gurjars and fired indiscriminately at them.
The police FIR was filed by Station House Officer Adhitya Guatam, who has been accused of playing a role in the firing.
Later, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot handed over the inquiry to the CBI.
Recently, the agency filed a Final Report, ruling out all 14 police complaints filed by victims and eyewitnesses.
“When the government had notified the CBI, the agency had stated that it would investigate all the FIRs filed regarding the riots. Now, the CBI is only looking into the SHO’s FIRs,” said Professor Hasan, a member of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and the Rajasthan Muslim Forum.
“The activists who had visited the spot know that only members of the Meo community were killed and injured. During a riot, people from both sides get injured. When police intervened and fired, only people from this particular community were killed by the bullets. How can that happen,” questioned the activist.
He also pointed out that the National Minority Commission panel, which had visited Gopalgarh, pointed out that police had acted in an one-sided manner.
“Despite this observation made by the NMC, the family which has lost its members in the firing has been put behind bars. The police not only fired bullets but also lodged wrong reports. And now, the CBI is following up the FIRs filed by police and turning victims into the accused,” he added.
Salim Engineer, secretary of Jamat-e-Islami Hind, claimed that though the government had initially acted against the accused officials, it later tried to save them.
“When the CAT (Central Administrative Tribunal) revoked the suspension of the Bharatpur superintendent of police and the collector, the government did not appeal against it in high court. The government had presented a weak case so that no further action could be taken against the officials. Now the CBI is doing the same,” said Engineer.
Engineer also raised the issue of the one-man judicial inquiry commission, headed by S K Garg, set up by the Gehlot government to probe the incident and submit its report within three months.
"It has been two years but the commission has not submitted its report. Now, the government has extended its tenure till December 31. We are not expecting anything much from the CBI, as the government does not want us to get justice. Muslims are angry with the Congress for not being able to provide justice to the victims of Gopalgarh riots. The Congress should understand that Muslims may not vote for the BJP, but they will also not vote for the Congress,” he added.
While the rights activists and members of the Muslim community have expressed their disappointment with the way the case is progressing, the Congress seems to have lost track of this trial.
“I have no idea about the CBI closing all the 14 cases in Gopalgarh. I will be able to comment on it only after studying the report filed by the CBI,” said Satayendra Singh Raghav, the state Congress spokesperson.
When asked about the likely impact Gopalgarh riots might have on Congress’ prospects, he replied, “No, it would not make much difference to us.”
The CBI officials could not be reached for comment.
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