Report of Working Group of National Integration Council to Study Reports of the Commissions of Inquiry on Communal Riots
January 17, 2006, the Ministry of Home Affairs established the Working Group of
the National Integration Council to study the reports of judicial and inquiry
commissions on communal riots. Its chairperson was Sriprakash Jaiswal – then
Union Minister of State, Home Affairs. Its other members included Justice Leila Seth (retired judge, Delhi High Court, and former Chief
Justice of India), Asghar Ali Engineer (writer and activist), Dr. Amrik Singh
(educationist and former vice-chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala), J. F.
Ribeiro (retired police chief and civil servant) and Moosa Raza (retired civil
servant and scholar of Islam).
This report examines 29 official reports on communal violence – from the 1961
riots in Jabalpur district, Madhya Pradesh, to the 2003 riots in Kozhikode,
Kerala. It examines the causes of the riots and actions taken by the
administration to contain them.
The seven-chapter report contains an introduction (Chapter I); the background and purpose of this report (Chapter II); an analysis of reports on communal riots from 1961 to 2005 (Chapter III); a ‘Gist of incidents that generally lead to communal disturbances’ (Chapter IV); recommendations “…to prevent communal conflict and, if possible, eradicate this evil” (Chapter V); and an epilogue with excerpts from Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s last speech before the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949 (Chapter VI).
Chapter VII contains statements and writings by Mahatma
Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Dr. S. Radhakrishanan on
The report classifies the events leading to communal disturbances into five broad categories: (i) ‘religious’ – including playing music before a mosque or temple especially during prayers or festivals; claims by different communities on a religious place; desecration of a place of worship or religious congregation; the alleged slaughter of an animal held sacred by a religion by a member of another community; and the construction of new temples or mosques; (ii) ‘personal’ – including an alleged assault; the molestation of a woman by a member of another community;, commercial rivalries and land disputes between different communities; and inflammatory speeches by religious or political leaders; (iii) ‘reactive’ – a reaction to events occurring in other parts or outside India; (iv) ‘rituals’ – disputes over customary processions, including procession routes; and ‘general’ – including the mistrust between communities due to perceptions of bias among police personnel, and in employment opportunities, education and bank services.
It is believed, the report states, that those who play a role in communal riots accrue political advantages, and agitators tend to believe that an ‘important person’ may save them from the consequences of their acts. The report recommends that persons charged for inciting communal disturbances be disqualified from filing nominations for elections.
On several occasions, observes the report, riots have spread through faulty beliefs and rumours. It notes that several judicial and inquiry commissions on communal riots have suggested the ‘intensive use of media’ to counter rumours.
The report states that the untimely or non-payment of relief to riot victims generates resentment. It recommends that state governments devise a uniform scale of relief, suggesting a sum of Rs. 100,000 in rupees for death, Rs. 50,000 for permanent incapacitation of a person, and a pension of Rs. 500 per month to widows of riot victims belonging to low-income groups.
‘Communally sensitive’ or riot-prone areas should be identified, recommends the report. Police stations and posts should be set up in these areas with adequate personnel, weaponry, communication links and vehicles, among other requirements. Such administrative measures must be continually reviewed.
The report emphasises that police contingents deployed in communally sensitive areas must include members of minority communties. It suggests special campaigns to recruit members of minority communities in police forces, and the formation of ‘composite battalions’ including members of different religious communities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and special training programmes for police forces focusing on communal harmony.
In cities and towns, Muslims and Hindus are increasingly concentrated in separate enclaves as a way of reducing communal clashes and for the perceived safety of their lives and properties during such clashes. But this could lead to a permanent division between the two communities and can prove very harmful for the country over time.
The report of the B. N. Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry studied the Hindu-Muslim communal disturbances in Mumbai in December 1992 and January 1993, following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, a town in Faizabad district of, Uttar Pradesh, on December 6, 1992. As many as 900 people died in the riots (575 Muslims, 275 Hindus, 45 unknown and 5 others) and 2036 (1105 Muslims, 893 Hindus and 38 others) were injured.
The report of the Justice M. L. Tibrewal Commission of Inquiry studied the communal disturbances in Jaipur, Rajasthan that occurred in October 1990. The report indicates that there were pre-existing tensions between Hindus and Muslims in the city, and that “…the Rath Yatra undertaken by Shri L. K. Advani and his arrest before its completion added fuel to the fire and by the evening of 23 Oct, 1990, the communal atmosphere had become highly charged in the city.”
The report of the Justice D. M. Sen Commission Of Inquiry examined the clashes between members of the Meitei – a major ethnic group in Manipur – and Muslim communities in May 1993. The report indicates that the Muslim population had increased due to an influx of migrants from Bangladesh, resulting in animosity against them. Nearly 100 people died in these clashes.
Focus and Factoids by Anusha Ganapathi and Aakanksha.
Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of
Government of India, New Delhi
19 Jan, 2007