इंडियन आवाज़     14 Apr 2024 01:36:52      انڈین آواز

Paradox of Bhagalpur riots

(Last Updated On: 12/08/2015)

By – Nirendra Dev /

Lalu Prasad, who ironically turned a die-hard Congress ally and especially a Sonia Gandhi-admirer in later stage, on December 29, 1989, had made a blistering attack on Congress and Rajiv Gandhi for now infamous Bhagalpur riots. “It is the Congress party which (has) engineered most of the riots, particularly in Bihar. We shall expose their role”.

Much later in 2005 a book penned by former Bihar Chief Minister, Satyendra Narain Sinha, titled ‘Meri Yaadein, Meri bhoolein (My Memories, My Mistakes), also blamed on Rajiv Gandhi’s role for making things murkier.

Sinha, who was later also removed by Rajiv Gandhi as CM, complained how the then Prime Minister had interfered in the state administration and “stayed” the transfer of a controversial police officer, K S Dwivedi.

“The Prime Minister’s action, I think, was not only an encroachment of the Constitutional right of the state government but also a step detrimental to ongoing efforts to ease tensions,” Sinha wrote adding, “I thought stopping the SP’s transfer will send a wrong message to the Muslims and give fillip to indiscipline in the police force.”

“In fact, the alienation of the Muslims began with the staying of my order for Dwivedi’s transfer,” claimed Sinha.

Following the release of the book in July 2005, Nitish Kumar, again a neo-fan of the Congress brand of politics had said, “no body can claim to have more authoritative information about the riots (in Bhagalpur) than Sinha and his charge proves that Congress is not secular…..When a Congress Prime Minister can succumb to unreasonable pressure and stay the transfer of district police chief hurting the sentiments of the minorities, how can that party claim to be secular”.

Move over, four years later in 2009 yet again, the then Bihar Congress chief Anil Kumar Sharma had charged Lalu Prasad with “conspiring” to protect a Bhagalpur riot accused Kameshwar Prasad Yadav. Media reports say Kameshwar Prasad was convicted by a court of law in 2007 of the charge of killing a Muslim shop owner.

Cut to 2015: the irony of democratic politics is that: all these major players – Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar and ‘ever virtuous-self certifying’ (sic) Congress are on one side of the chess board. This is what’s called Indian secularism, which I deliberately berate as ‘SICKULARISM’.

If I was being prejudiced against these secular brigade, is this totally unjustified?

We were in the hills of northeast in 1989 when Bhagalpur riots broke and even from distance, I do recall, we could get a sense of what was going on in the ill-fated township – that’s Bhagalpur – which somehow had earned a place in Bengali literature for various reasons.

Notably, Bhagalpur riots did not leave Hindus at the receiving end even as the majority community also had to bear the burnt.

Wikipedia says, at the Logain village, 116 Muslims were killed by a 4000-strong mob led by the police officer Ramchander Singh. The perpetrators buried the bodies in fields and then planted cauliflower over the mass grave to hide the evidence. Fourteen people, including a former police officer, were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the killings, in 2007.
In the words of Lalu Prasad yet again, “It is the Congress that has engineered most of the riots… Rajiv Gandhi failed to protect Harijans and Muslims”.
The carnage had left over 1000 dead with about 900 of them being Muslims.

Did I get it right? Was this not a prelude to post-Godhra 2002 – that intellectuals and sickularists played up for 12 continuous years?

And what was the focal point of a debate – that Congress is a ‘protector’ of Muslims. So Bhagalpur Muslims were not Muslims?
Elbow-jerking Rahul baba need to spare two minutes on this?

The inquiry commission (headed by Justice NN Singh) was set up by Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in 2005 to look into the Bhagalpur riots and fix responsibility. The commission report tabled in he state assembly has squarely blamed the Congress — the State Government it controlled, the police at its disposal, its leaders and their henchmen.

I am aghast why and how – the media during last 48 hours since the Commission report has been tabled did not quite debate on Bhagalpur carnage, where the killings had started on 24 October 1989, and the violent incidents continued to happen for 2 months. Notably, another similarity with post-Godhra tragedy, where a Chief Minister had failed to uphold ‘Raj Dharma’.

The Raj Dharma debate cannot touch the ‘dynasty’? But more interestingly, Bhagalpur did not produce Teestas nor cops like Sanjiv babus?

Did I read somewhere, the interpretation of history expresses the memory of a nation?

Deaths may come, deaths may go; we keep politicking is an art for politicians. But what about our ‘journalism’ –once held highly as ‘noble of all isms’, at least this is what I read in a piece in 1989-90 in the backyards of Nagaland and had decided to plunge into the career. Incidentally, my father never approved of Journalism for his ‘jesta-putra (eldest son)’.

A conservative man and a disciplinarian, his definition of journalism in Bangla was: boner poshu baney pathano (translated as SENDING WILD ANIMALS TO THE WILD). He was prophetic !

To conclude, one can take solace in a Yesudas number: “Bhor hue, sannajh dhali aur samaye ne li angrai ..Yeh jag sara, nind se hara, Mohe Nind nahi ayi
(meaning – Dawn is there, some time have passed; this world has been smitten by the magical spell of sound sleep…and here am I unable to get even momentary sleep).

The Urdu lines from Mirza Ghalib perhaps are more heart-wrenching:

koi ummeed bar naheen aatee
koee soorat nazar naheen aatee

maut ka ek din mu’ayyan hai
neehd kyon raat bhar naheeh aatee?

Because it’s Urdu, let SICKULARS translate it !

(Nirendra Dev is a Spl. Representative with The Statesman )

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