A deeper conspiracy involving a former Minister, and government officials posted in Kishtwar was responsible for the violence, and riots that erupted in Kishtwar on the day of Eid two years back. The Justice RC Gandhi Commission which inquired into the communal riots has come out with a scathing report which not only puts the blame on the local politicians including a former NC minister but it also casts strong aspersions on the motives, and conduct of the senior civil and police officials who were responsible for maintaining law and order in the district.
The Commission’s report makes it clear that arson, looting of shops, and property as well as violence was not spontaneous but it was pre-planned. Had the violence been sudden, than every agency of the state would have come forward to meet the challenge but this did not happen on the day of the incident. The report says that on the basis of evidence that the entire incident was aimed to create a wedge between two communities by using anti-India, pro-pak slogans with the objective of getting political support of a particular community.
The commission has put it on record that the former minister, and senior officials apart from local religious leaders, and Hurriyat leaders hatched a conspiracy, which took shape two to three months before Eid. It was because of this reason that on August 8, a message was sent by the Imam of Jamia Masjid to the Imams of neighbouring villages to form processions, and come to join the main Eid procession in the town. In the past people from these villages have never come to offer Eid Namaz but on that day processionists came in large numbers shouting slogans that raised the tension. The processionists when they entered a Hindu area, instead of offering prayers took offence on a trivial matter, and started arson. The commission says that men were armed with inflammable material that was put to use, and shops set on fire instantly. The Special Investigating Team has admitted as per the FSL report that some people in the crowd had brought kerosene oil which was used to deadly effect. The report in no uncertain terms accuses the former minister, then DC, and other police officials of being complicit in the communal violence which tarred the relations between the two communities, and also led to loss of lives, and property.
Now taking all these matters into account, and with Justice Gandhi report implicating a powerful former minister, and the government officials under him to be responsible for this entire episode, one has to ask. Will the new PDP-BJP government book the accused? Will those responsible for shedding their public duty, and putting the lives of hundreds of people into danger made accountable? Is the new government serious about uncovering the deeper conspiracy involved in the Kishtwar violence? Was the riot a ploy to garner the sympathy of a particular community for political benefits or was it something meant to distract the people from real issues?
The chief minister yesterday said that he will govern the state with an inclusive agenda, and if he is serious about walking his talk than action should be initiated against those involved in the communal riots in Kishtwar. And answers to above questions sought. The people behind the conspiracy including senior officials must be taken to task, and severe action should be taken against them to ensure that J&K remains an inclusive state. If this does not happen then it would be difficult to win the confidence of the people, and the new government would also be seen as ineffective. The Justice Gandhi Commission has done well by bringing out the truth after going into details of the matter. It is now upon the state government to take action against the accused, and also to take steps to bring the Hindus, and Muslims closer not only in Kishtwar but across Jammu and Kashmir because one has to live with his neighbour no matter what the religion is.