Bhainsa fire murder, not accidental: NCM Report

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New Delhi, Nov 7: An inquiry by the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has found that the burning of six members of a family in Bhainsa village of the riot-hit Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh last month was not an incident of accidental fire but of premeditated murder. ''One major reason for reaching this conclusion is that all six bodies were found by the police, when it came to the site, in one room....Otherwise they would have been found in different parts of the house trying to escape from the fire engulfing it,'' said a two-Member Probe team of the NCM in its Report presented to the Commission.

NCM Members Professor - Zoya Hasan and Dr Dileep Padgaonkar - visited Andhra Pradesh from 20 - 22 October, 2008, to inquire into the incidents of communal violence that took place in Adilabad district of the state between October 10 and 15.

The team was further informed by senior police officials that bodies were discovered in two piles, which was surprising as the bodies were lying in only one room, which was not large enough to accommodate all of them, suggesting that the family members may have been killed earlier, they said in their report.

''The CBI inquiry ordered by the state government will, doubtless, throw light on the circumstances leading to the ghastly tragedy. We, however, have little doubt that the murders were deliberate and premeditated,'' the Members said.

Pointing out that Bhainsa was classified as a communally sensitive town - a point that was repeatedly stated by the senior officials of the state government and the district-- the NCM team felt that more active efforts could have been made for monitoring the Durga Mata procession, rather than allowing things to develop and responding to events after the violence.

The possibility of an outbreak of trouble could have been anticipated by an alert police. More efforts could have been made to regulate the procession, such as an alternative route for the procession, particularly because it was being taken out on a Friday, when a large number of people gather for prayers in mosques.

Moreover, the report said, stronger efforts could have been made to identify anti-social elements to ensure that they did not take part in the procession, but that was not done.

The NCM team has recommended that intelligence and police officials should monitor the contents of speeches, pamphlets, handbills and slogans of leaders of communal outfits and action should be initiated against those inciting communal hatred through such ''hate speech''. Noting that the riots, which finally led to Bhainsa incident, broke out when the Durga Mata procession passed a mosque at the time of the Friday prayers, it said that local authorities should ensure that procession routes avoid passing alongside places of worship, and permission for these processions should be granted duly on the condition that it takes place outside the prayer timings.

The Report also emphasised the need of making peace committees active on a continuous basis and not only after the outbreak of violence.

It also recommended that the Communal Violence Bill, which has been introduced in Parliament, needed to be expeditiously passed.

Cases filed against the accused, in incidents of communal violence should be expedited, if required, through setting up of special courts.

''This alone can ensure that justice is meted out. This would act as a deterrent against future attempts to create communal disharmony and violence,' the Report said.

The NCM team, during their visit to the state met Governor N D Tiwari, and Chief Minister Rajasekhar Reddy, besides Chief Secretary, Ramakant Reddy, DGP S S P Yadav, senior civilian and police officials, representatives of political parties, social activists, civil society organisations and other affected people, rights groups, and relatives of victims and district level officials.


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