Even as the situation is fast returning to normal in the riot-hit Muzaffarnagar, a former senior police officer on Tuesday said that the Army called to quell riots was not allowed to function properly.
“I didn’t find any Army patrol or even pickets in the riot affected villages. The district magistrate even told us that the Army had been called as ‘a show of force and not as an act of force’,” said E N Rammohan, former director general of Border Security Force, who visited the area alongwith a civil society delegation.
The team travelled from Muzaffarnagar to Budhana tehsil, Kaul village, where the killings took place triggering the riots, Katuba village which witnessed maximum violence and Shamli district headquarters.
The group that visited the region a day ahead of the visit of prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, found the entire bureaucracy including the newly appointed district magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma preparing for the VVIP visits instead of attending to riot-affected.
“The district administration was not only direction less, but also their attention was diverted towards ensuring that the helipad and the adjoining conference hall were in proper condition to host the VVIP,” said a fact-finding team, which included academics, journalists, former bureaucrats and police officers.
However, a day after the PM‘s visit and central government’s pulling up, the Akhlesh Singh government set up a special cell comprising an additional superintendent of police, two DySP and 30 police inspectors, to investigate cases related to riots and record FIRs.
The fact finding team said that the BJP played a “major role in spreading lies and rumours” and was “actively involved” in the communal violence that engulfed Muzaffarnagar and claimed at least 48 lives.
The fact-finding team also criticised the Uttar Pradesh government for its failure to deal with the situation.
The Centre for Policy Analysis (CPA), which took the fact-finding team of six eminent people to Muzaffarnagar on Saturday to look into the genesis of the violence and the reasons for its spread, presented its report to the media at the Indian Women’s Press Corps here. It said the Akhilesh Yadav government appeared to have been “taken by surprise” with the enormity of the violence and that there was “probably a deliberate disregard of rising tensions and Intelligence reports”.
It said the Samajwadi Party-led state government, though faced with the threat of communal strife, failed to undertake the essential steps needed at the time - of prevention, control, rescue, rehabilitation and providing justice, that would have helped avert the violence.