Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party came in for criticism on Saturday for not implementing the recommendations of the Srikrishna Commission Report on the 1993 Mumbai riots which had held the Shiv Sena and its top leadership responsible for orchestrating the attacks on the minority community.

Participating in a discussion here on the inaction against the perpetrators of the riots and non-implementation of the Commission’s recommendations, Yusuf Muchala, one of the lawyers who fought the case against all odds, accused the two parties ruling Maharashtra in coalition as “covertly communal.” At least, the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party were forthright in rejecting the report, he said at the discussion organised by the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust and Communalism Combat.

Civil society’s role

Given the manner in which the political class handles such issues, the recurrent message in most speeches was that civil society ought to remain eternally vigilant and united. While eminent lawyer and columnist Rajeev Dhawan accused Indian governance of generally displaying a diminishing accountability towards minorities, Mr. Muchala said civil society should remain vigilant and united to ensure that even the most dictatorial of forces succumb to the will of the people.

Both Mr. Dhawan and Mr. Muchala said it was not public interest but political consideration which was making the government drag its feet vis-À-vis implementation of the Srikrishna Commission Report. Critical of the manner in which governments in India since Independence have seen communal riots as a “blur,” Mr. Dhawan said this perception ought to be changed. “Governments in India should recognise riots as a conspiracy.”

Earlier, National Commission for Minorities member Zoya Hasan said India’s record in post-violence justice has been very unsatisfactory. Raising a number of questions, she pondered aloud why reports of Commissions of Enquiry are not binding on governments, and why relief and rehabilitation measures leave much to be desired. Also, she dwelt on the infiltration of communalism into state structures and public institutions as a result of which they can seldom take any action.

And, Teesta Setalvad of Communalism Combat urged civil society to take on the judiciary. Holding the judiciary responsible for the delays and flaws in the redress measures, she said the judiciary tends to escape a lot of the blame because people fear contempt of court.

As for action against the Shiv Sena for the 1993 riots, she sought to clarify that no one wanted the organisation to be banned. “All that we are asking is for prosecuting the Shiv Sena and its leaders who have been named in the report.”

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