Revealed after decades, a report on the 1980 Moradabad riots absolves officials, police, and political groups from blame, shedding light on the communal violence’s causes and consequences.
After almost 40 years, the findings of Justice M P Saxena regarding the 1980 communal riots in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, have come to light. The report was presented in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly recently.
Background of the Violence
The communal violence began on August 13, 1980, during Eidgah in Moradabad and spread to places like Sambhal, Aligarh, Bareilly, Allahabad (now Prayagraj), and the rural areas of Moradabad, lasting until early 1981. This marked one of the largest instances of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh’s history.
Long-Awaited Report’s Contents Unveiled
Justice M P Saxena’s report, submitted in 1983, remained confidential until now. The over 400-page report absolves officials, police, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and the BJP from blame.
Contents of the Report
The report cites that Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader Shamim Ahmed and Hamid Hussain incited the riots. It clears government officials, Hindus, RSS, and BJP from responsibility for the violence. The report also vindicates “common Muslims.”
Details of the Commission
The one-member commission examined the August 13, 1980, riots and the actions of officials, and evaluated their accountability.
No Official, Employee, or Hindu Blamed
The report concludes that no government official, employee, or Hindu was responsible for the trouble. It states that the role of RSS or BJP did not contribute to the riots. It further emphasizes that the common Muslim is also not to blame.
The IUML leader Shamim Ahmed and Hamid Hussain are held responsible for inciting the riots.
Rumors and Communal Tensions
Rumors of pigs set loose during Eidgah prayers incited community members, leading to attacks on police stations, police outposts, and Hindus. This retaliation turned the situation into a communal riot.
Continuation of Communal Violence
The report acknowledges that communal violence persisted due to the belief that many from the minority community had been killed, despite evidence that most died in stampedes.
The report mentions a “leadership tussle” within a section of the Muslim community, partly fueled by their increasing population, prompting them to consider themselves as a “vote bank.”
Triggers for the Riot
An incident from May 1980, involving a Dalit girl allegedly kidnapped and raped by Muslim youths, triggered tensions. The clash between Valmiki community and Muslims escalated.
Death Toll and Official Response
The reported death toll varied, with then Home Minister Swarup Kumari Bakshi mentioning 289 deaths. The Commission cited 84 deaths and 112 injured in the riots.
The report commends officials’ efforts, including firing by police and the Police Arms Constabulary (PAC), as “legally appropriate” actions taken to restore peace.
The long-hidden report on the Moradabad riots has finally seen the light, providing insights into the events and reasons behind the communal violence that gripped the region decades ago.