K.V. Subramanya

The Jagannath Shetty panel recommended preventive measures

BANGALORE: Even as the Karnataka Government is gearing up to fight terrorism following the Lashkar-e-Taiba's attack on the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) here on December 28, 2005, it has come to light that the powers that be failed to act over a 1997 judicial commission report on the activities of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence's (ISI) in the State. The report also recommended preventive measures.

The judicial commission, headed by a former High Court judge Kedambadi Jagannath Shetty, inquired into the communal carnage at Bhatkal town in Uttara Kannada district in which 17 people were killed. It said that from the evidence given by the witnesses, it was established that Pakistan's ISI was secretly operating through its agents in Bhatkal, causing disturbances.

Though it is nearly nine years now since Mr. Jagannath Shetty submitted the report to the J.H. Patel Government, the State Government has neither made the report public nor acted on the recommendations made by the commission.

According to the report, the commission recommended the constitution of a special intelligence unit comprising officials who could tackle communal violence.

But the Government has not set up a specialised unit to gather intelligence as recommended by the commission in its over 1,000-page report. Unlike several other States, Karnataka does not have a counter-intelligence cell.

The commission, which was set up when M. Veerappa Moily was Chief Minister, also recommended that Bhatkal be declared a "trouble-prone communally hypersensitive area." Incidentally, one of the persons, who were secured by the Bangalore police in connection with the terrorist attack on the IISc., is an Islamic preacher from Bhatkal.

The coastal town of Bhatkal witnessed communal violence from April 1993 to December that year, and 17 people were killed, 90 injured, 226 houses burnt and 143 shops looted.

The report said firearms were used in a number of killings during the violence. The commission suggested to the Government to set up an autonomous community relations council accountable only to the Legislature, to ensure communal harmony.