A one-man judicial commission headed by former high court judge Vishnu Sahai is understood to have indicted government officials more than politicians for the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and four adjoining districts in 2013.
The Justice Sahai commission, appointed in September 2013 to probe the factors that sparked off one of the worst communal riots in post-independent India, submitted its voluminous 775-page report to Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik on Wednesday evening.
While Sahai remained tight-lipped about the contents of his report, informed sources confirmed that the commission had put the blame primarily on government officials for “inept” handling of the situation that went out of hand and left 62 dead and hundreds wounded, besides rendering 55,000 men, women and children homeless or displaced.
It is learnt that the report pointedly indicts two BJP MLAs -- Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana -- who were earlier also named as the key accused by the local police.
The name of a Samajwadi Party leader also obliquely figures among the persons responsible for inciting the riots.
Justice Sahai, who completed his task in exactly two years, drew his conclusions after a detailed examination of as many as 478 witnesses, of which 101 were police and administration officials.
These included the then principal home secretary R M.Srivastava, director general of police Devraj Nagar, two Muzaffarnagar district magistrates Surendra Singh and Kaushal Raj Sharma and senior superintendent of police Manju Saini, as well as DMs and SSPs of the remaining four districts where the communal violence spread like wild fire in August-September 2013.
“The report goes into each of the four terms of reference of the inquiry -- circumstances that led to the riots, role and responsibility of officials, identification of all those responsible for inciting the riots and recommendations to prevent recurrence of such riots,” said Sahai, who flatly refused to divulge any further detail of the report.
“I am bound by the oath of confidentiality that entails every commission of inquiry. Therefore, I just cannot give you any bit of my findings”, he insisted.
He said, “Since the report is now in the domain of the government, as I am told that that the Governor has forwarded it to the state government.”
Asked if he faced any kind of pressure during the course of his probe, he shot back, “I am not the types who can be pressurised by anyone and all along my career as a judge I have not allowed any kind of influence to override my decisions or findings.”
When a media person sought his comment on rumours about his close proximity to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Justice Sahai retorted: “Let me tell you that I gave a verdict against Shiv Sena boss Bal Thakeray while I was a judge at the Bombay high court; I gave a judgement against Mayawati while she was in power and the only occasion I delivered an order in favour of Mulayam Singh Yadav was while he was out of power.”
He also claimed that it was no mean task “to record statement of 478 witnesses, carry out their cross-examination and then submit a 775-page volume over a span of 24 months.”
Notwithstanding his assertions, his close relations with Mulayam were discussed even when he was appointed as the one-man commission to go into the Muzaffarnagar riots on September 9, 2013.
Political circles were agog with conspiracy theories that the report may lack objectivity and be “tailor-made” to suit the ruling SP dispensation.
Meanwhile, even as the former judge claimed that he had thrown his doors open to all and sundry to depose before the commission, which had set up a camp office in Muzaffarnagar itself, BJP MLA Sangeet Som told media persons in Ghaziabad on Thursday, “I want to know why the commission of inquiry did not make us part of the probe in any way? Did it take our inputs?”