New task force on Srikrishna panel

MUMBAI, SEPT. 2. The Maharashtra Government has moved closer to the implementation of the Srikrishna Commission report with the constitution of a high-level task force, comprising senior city police officials, to take a closer look at the persons named by the report and investigate crimes committed by them during the 1992-93 communal riots.

The task force has been formed a week ahead of the deadline for the Maharashtra Government to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court, which is hearing a slew of public interest litigation petitions before it. Since the advent of the Congress(I)-NCP-led Government, Maharashtra has been affirming its intent to implement the report but had gone slow, awaiting the verdict of the apex court.

A similar task force had been set up, headed by the then Joint Commissioner of Police, Mr. M. N. Singh, soon after the March 12, 1993 serial blasts here. Now, Mr. Singh is the Commissioner of Mumbai Police. The new task force comes in the wake of the High Court here frowning at the manner in which a city magistrate discharged the Shiv Sena Chief, Mr. Bal Thackeray, when he was arrested recently for inflammatory writings during the riots.

According to the Government's current reading of the Supreme Court's mind, the State would be asked to go ahead with the implementation of the report, which was cited by the Sena-BJP as being biased in favour of Muslims. This task force would be cited by the Government in its affidavit as an expression of intent and preparedness to go ahead with the responsibility of taking the findings to a logical end.

Already, some Shiv Sena cadre, including a shakha pramukh and five others, have been arrested for their role in the riots, and some police personnel have been served with suspensions. According to sources, ``more is to come step by step''.

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