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August 6, 1998


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Maharashtra rejects Srikrishna report as being 'biased against Hindus'

The Maharashtra government today rejected the findings of the Justice Srikrishna Commission report which probed the 1992-93 riots and the serial bomb blasts in Bombay, and described it as "biased".

Tabling the report in the state legislative assembly on Thursday afternoon, Chief Minister Manohar Joshi said the report could not be accepted by the government as it was totally prejudiced against Hindus and that it would lead to countrywide false propaganda against Hindus.

He also expressed the government's surprise over the fact that the Commission had not taken cognisance of the involvement of a foreign hand in the riots and subsequent serial bomb blasts in the metropolis on March 12, 1993. However, the chief minister assured the House that the government had accepted all "good suggestions" made in the report for strengthening and upgrading the police machinery to deal effectively with riotous situations and to maintain communal harmony

The chief minister said the government was also rejecting all references made against Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray as there was no concrete evidence. He said it was regrettable that the Commission had made no comments about Muslim leaders responsible for instigating their community during the riots. He said the Commission made no mention of the call for a jihad (holy war) given by a particular community.

The chief minister, who belongs to the Shiv Sena, said Thackeray took the lead in protecting Hindus during the riots. He noted with surprise that the Commission, instead of fixing blame on communal elements responsible for the riots, blamed Thackeray.

The chief minister also regretted that the Commission, while indicting the Marathi newspaper Saamna, the Sena daily edited by Thackeray, and Navakal for alleged inflammatory writings during the riots, had completely excluded Urdu newspapers which had indulged in stoking communal passions.

Even today, a section of Urdu newspapers continue to spit venom against the Sena chief by publishing distorted reports about his health.

Joshi said the government had accepted the Commission's finding that weak political leadership during the period and political rivalry between then chief minister Sudhakar Naik and then defence minister Sharad Pawar was one of the reasons for the delay in controlling the volatile situation.

He said his government did not find anything wrong in ''nationalist'' slogans like 'Is desh me rahna hoga to Vande Mataram kehna hoga' which have been termed by the Commission as fanning communal passion.

He also alleged that there were several conflicting versions in the report. One of the unacceptable points is about a huge mob that had gathered at Ambedkar Garden in Charni road on December 6. But Ambedkar Garden is in Chembur and not in Charni road, and the mob had gathered to observe Ambedkar's death anniversary, he said.

Mention has been made that a group of Shiv Sainiks cycled through a Muslim area in celebration of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. However, Joshi said the cyclists were actually drawing attention to the long standing demand of constructing the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

The report also refers to groups of youth as Shiv Sainiks in certain portions while in other places, it merely mentions ''group of young people''. He queried whether a young group necessarily meant Shiv Sainiks.

Joshi criticised the report saying it did not give suggestions about ways to bring together Hindus and Muslims. According to him, the Commission had not taken a serious view of the large-scale violence.

He wondered how the report had not mentioned the killing of Mathadi workers and burning of Radhabai Chawl as one of the prime reasons for triggering off the riots.

The chief minister said one of the main objectives before the government, while constituting the Srikrishna Commission, was that it would bring out certain basic and fundamental concepts and ideas, with recommendations for preventing and controlling the riots, and the government gave all co-operation to the Commission. It was hoping that the conclusions and recommendations made by the Commission would be useful not only for the present, but would help safeguard the future.

It is, however, regretfully noted that the Commission did not fulfill this expectation and did not take a comprehensive view of all the facets and elements responsible for the riots which has led to one-sided conclusions, the chief minister said.

One community and its leadership has been held responsible while the other has been more or less absolved, he added.


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