By Haider Abbas
The politics behind the strategy of BJP to table the Moradabad riots report-1980 in UP Assembly, gathering dust since 40 years, can easily be understood, as it is now almost one year left for the general elections-2024. The rumblings to table it, had started while Karnataka polls were underway, and BJP had got the inkling that it was to be ousted. Which did happen also, and only for the sake that Muslims in 88% voted for Congress and deserted Janta Dal (S). Muslims make around 15% in Karnataka and more than 20% in UP. BJP wants to kill more than a few birds with the single shot. It wants to entrench its core Hindutva constituency, that it were the Muslims, after some findings were leaked, who were responsible for the riots, and wants to send a nationwide message that it was under Congress ruled UP, as well as at Center, that Muslims were killed. What therefore, Muslims ought to make out if it?
What matters here is that there were around close to 300 people, and of course most of them Muslims, who were killed in the Moradabad riots of 1980, which had started on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr i.e. August 13, 1980, at Eidgah, where an estimated around 80,000 Muslims had gathered to offer prayers. As the prayers were underway, stray pigs entered Eidgah, while police personnel were present, which led to Muslim resentment and reaction too. The trigger happy police had already been briefed and an unprovoked firing on hapless Muslims had to happen! There was already ‘intelligence branch’ inputs, on August 12, 1980, a day earlier, that any stray animal (read pigs) could cause trouble the next day, which makes it clear of the conspiracy behind! I have written very extensively on the issues of riots, particularly after Moradabad-1980, and how that later India’s politics had taken to a new turn, and only for more deadly turns.
It is more than obvious that the present BJP UP government wants to grind a political axe out of the report, as it wants to blame Dr Shamim Ahmed, long deceased, a Muslim League politician to be responsible for the riots, and since, the on the other side were Scheduled Caste Balmikis, hence, BJP wants to rope-into the Balmikis support in 2024. Whipping-up a dead horse, after 40 years, is solely to draw a political mileage and what else? Even if the report is to be made public? What about its recommendations? Can they ever be implemented? Never!
The political history has it all. It was the famous 1977 first non-Congress government at the Center, which had been drubbed and RSS for the first time, had openly supported Congress, which justified ‘the means’ as no sooner Indira Gandhi acceded to power in 1980, there were the worst riots and programs, state sponsored of course, against Muslims! Moradabad was its first manifestation. What soon had followed was Nielle massacre in Assam (1983) in which more than 3000 Muslims were slain. In 1984 Indira Gandhi passed-away, and Rajiv Gandhi, the tech-savvy became the PM, who opened-up the Babri Masjid locks (1986). What followed thence was Hashimpura and Maliana massacres (1987) in Meerut, in which 114 Muslims were slaughtered by the police in two days. Vir Bahadur Singh was the Congress CM in UP, who was upgraded to become Minister of Communications at the Union government.
Will ever the UP government summon up the courage to make public the Justice GL Srivastava Commission report, which was formed after the Maliana killings? All the accused of Hashimpura massacre have been set free and Maliana massacre too have the story Even the crucial FIR in Maliana case has gone missing from the government records. The police officers, instead, during all these years have retired, after their due promotions! Suspension was out of question. However, the case of VP Singh, the Congress CM in 1980, is a stark case of political unrighteousness, as he had decided to step down as CM, but Indira Gandhi did not accept his resignation. He however, later resigned after 21 people were gunned down by dacoits on June 28, 1982.
Muhammed Azam Khan, then MLA from Lok Dal reminisces of what had happened in UP Assembly as he had made VP Singh’s head hang in shame. He had carried the blood stained clothes, burnt belongings of Muslims to the Assembly to claim for justice! He is perhaps, one of the very few survivors of the 1980 carnage as he himself had stood witness to it. MA Khan is a ten times Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA, Ex. Rajya Sabha and also Ex. Lok Sabha member from Rampur. Rampur is 28 kms from Moradabad.
He was on a visit to Lucknow on May 17, and remembered that on the next day of the Moradabad riots, he had taken a truck loaded with basic amenities, clothes, food and particularly Lactogen milk for babies, but was refused its distribution by the SDM. He brought the truck back, only to re-enter Moradabad from the village side. This aid work went-on for months and later the same had to be carried-out in the wake of Hashimpura and Maliana.
Commission reports have by and large remained a farce. Should it also be referred that after the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, , Liberhan Commission was formed, and after 48 extensions, was made public in 2009. There has been no action-taken-report to it. The judicial Nimesh Commission report, formed to investigate the illegal custody of Khalid Mujahid and Tariq Qasmi in 2007, made public in 2012, also met the similar fate. Khalid Mujahid died in police custody in 2013.
A political can of worms is to be set free after the report will be tabled. It will only serve the purpose of BJP, as it will show its care for Balmikis, the main-stake of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), strengthen its Hindutva ranks, and further isolate Muslims. The end result will further entrench the trope of Muslim alienation, who have never got even closer to justice, as after the day-light demolition of Babri Masjid it’s all accused have been set free. The timing of this report-tabling is therefore very ominous! The secular and socialist forces in the country ought to wake-up.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on politics.