ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kanpur : Spreading Poison

It has been over 10 days since the riots in Kanpur killed several people and destroyed property valued in crores. Though numbers vary as to the exact number killed, the administration now accepts that most of the victims were Muslims. It was they, as the minority community in this once booming textile centre, who sustained immense losses as rioters, including allegedly some elements of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), ran riot in minority-dominated areas of the city. Yet there has been no move so far on the part of the BJP-dominated state government to set up an enquiry commission to look into what started it all off.

It has been over 10 days since the riots in Kanpur killed several people and destroyed property valued in crores. Though numbers vary as to the exact number killed, the administration now accepts that most of the victims were Muslims. It was they, as the minority community in this once booming textile centre, who sustained immense losses as rioters, including allegedly some elements of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), ran riot in minority-dominated areas of the city. Yet there has been no move so far on the part of the BJP-dominated state government to set up an enquiry commission to look into what started it all off.

The government’s only initiative thus far has been to respond in its usual tried and tested manner – to transfer top district officials and hand out ‘generous’ compensation packages to the victims. It is contemplating a ban on the fanatical Islamic students group, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), but action against the PAC whose incitement of the violence is widely suspected has been categorically ruled out. Some television clippings have established the presence of a substantial crowd chanting provocative Hindu slogans accompanying the PAC as it was despatched to restore order. The PAC, as borne out by incidents in Moradabad, Agra and Hashimpur since the 1980s, has a dubious record of turning a blind eye to and even abetting rioting by Hindu elements. A women’s delegation representing the All-India Democratic Women’s Association, the Muslim Women’s Forum and the Indian Social Institute that visited Kanpur, then still under curfew, has confirmed that violence escalated with the PAC’s presence in the riot-hit areas. PAC men reportedly drove up in their trucks and indulged in looting of minority-owned shops in the areas they had been asked to patrol.

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