JAMMU: In a startling finding, one-man Justice R C Gandhi Commission has indicted former Minister of State for Home, currently National Conference MLC, Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo for masterminding the 2013 Kishtwar communal riots that claimed three lives, left 80 injured and over 100 houses and business establishments mainly belonging to minority community members gutted.
Consigned to ‘dustbin’ by the PDP-BJP dispensation during its ten-month tenure in Jammu and Kashmir, notwithstanding BJP benefitting immensely in the elections on this single issue in the Kishtwar-Doda District, the Justice Gandhi Commission Report says that Sajjad Kitchloo, along with a local Imam, visited several villages three days ahead of the Eid, which resulted in people of these areas thronging in the town, raising anti-India slogans that left the district headquarter devastated with police remaining mute spectator.
In nine-hour long free for all on 9th August 2013, the Kishtwar communal riots almost engulfed entire Jammu region, with the people protesting against conspiracy and connivance of the then minister from National Conference and the senior local cop.
According to the Justice Gandhi Commission Report, Sajad Kitchloo toured villages Pui, Huller, Sangrambhata, Hongla and Dhoga on 6th, 7th and 8th August. And, the people, particularly from these villages only came in procession for Namaz prayers, raising anti-India slogans for the first time. “Before this, it never happened,” says the Report.
“In fact, ten days earlier to Eid, the atmosphere of harassment was being created, such as, on 4th July, 2013 four boys aged 16 to 17 years went to village Sangrambhata to deliver invitation card of the marriage of a neighbourer. In that village, these boys were beaten by local boys. FIR was filed of this incident but no action was taken.
On 28th July, 2013 Kalash Yatra was taken out from village Poshal (part of Kishtwar city) which was to terminate at Bhandarkote Sangam. Yatra was consisting of about 1,500 people. When it reached at village Sangrambhata, in the way to Bhandarkote village, anti-national elements attacked the Yatra and a boy, namely, Ranmit Singh was seriously injured. His motor-cycle was burnt and the Yatra was made to come back by other alternative route. FIR was registered in Police Station Kishtwar but no action was taken”, states Justice Gandhi Report.
The Report goes on revealing that, “On 3rd August, 2013 at village Pashwan, which is about 60 kms away from Kishtwar where Muslim people assembled in large number, raised anti-India and anti-Hindu slogans while passing through the village in a procession to terrorise the Hindu population there. The Administration was informed personally by the witness leading a deputation of the said villagers but no action was taken”.
It adds, “On 5th August, 2013 at 4.00 PM Tilak Raj SPO was beaten at Bus Stand while he was in Police uniform. FIR was lodged in the Police Station Kishtwar but no action was taken. On the same day at 6.00 PM, a boy from village Poshal (part of the city) namely Rakesh Kumar, son of Nand Lal was coming towards Kishtwar city and while he reached near Chhoti Ziarat he was attacked, beaten and dragged by the Gundas. The witness went along with the complainant to the Police Station but no FIR was registered”.
Dwelling upon the findings, the Justice Gandhi Report maintain, “On 6th August, 2013 a Sepoy of village Poshal, after vacations, was going to resume his duty to Chhatroo Post and when he reached a little before Chhatroo, Gundas made him un-board the bus wherein he was travelling and was mercilessly beaten and slogans in favour of Pakistan were also raised. Muslim people assembled there in large number. They also joined the Gundas. FIR was lodged but no action was taken”.
“On the intervening night of 6th-7th August, 2013 some labourers who had come from outside and living at Bus Stand were threatened by the people armed with weapons to leave Kishtwar otherwise they will be done to death. On intervening night of 7th and 8th August, 2013 in Kishtwar city including Kichloo Mohalla where the Minister of State for Home resides, posters containing photos of Shabir Ahmed Shah, Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat were pasted on the walls containing the writing that ‘by sitting silent we will not get freedom; stand up and get freedom.’
On the intervening night of 8th and 9th August, 2013 at village Chhatroo, a Muslim boy was injured because of a fall and Muslim people in large number assembled there and raised anti-India slogans blaming VDC for causing injury. This hooliganism continued for two hours at Chhatroo and VDC members were blamed whereas there is no VDC in that village. That was brought to the notice of the administration but no action was taken. His narration of the events is to make out that action was not taken by the Police for the reason that the Police was under some instructions, Hukam Chand, son of Kunj Lal has stated that Minister being in the town and this holocaust happened”.
“He is a part of the conspiracy and hundred percent involved in it”, Malik Mohd Umar Advocate, son of Rehmattula Malik told the Commission, adding that the Minister was only bothered about his own safety and not for the safety of others.
“He behaved as a commoner and coward, though he was Minister of State for Home Department. To save his life he along with his PSOs jumped over the rear wall of the Dak Bunglow and took shelter in the house of Abdul Kabir Gilkar which is very unfortunate”, Justice Gandhi Report observes.
“Not only this, he took the Deputy Commissioner also along with him who was to maintain law and order”, it added.
“Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo in his deposition has stated that he issued instructions to the District administration to maintain law and order”, says Justice Gandhi Report, adding “It is a mockery as the incharge of the District administration, i.e. Deputy Commissioner was running and hiding along with him where ever he went”.
Raj Kumar, son of Duni Chand deposed before the Commission and stated that the Minister did not intervene to stop burning; it was a matter of only five minutes for him. He did not take any step to stop burning and looting.
Vijay Parihar, son of Hans Raj Parihar stated to the Commission that he along with other shopkeepers of Bun Astan area went to the Minister who was in the Dak Bungalow and requested him to save the shops from burning. “He told us that the boys are playing and will resort to calm and peace, but did not intervene. Had he wanted to control it, it would have been controlled, he rather incited them by saying so”, he added.
Asheesh Kumar, son of Suresh Kumar told the Commission that the Minister was standing near the Chinar tree while the Kuleed Chowk was burning. “He did not intervene. Had he intervened, the tragedy would have been averted. From there he went to the Dak Bunglow”, the Report mentions Kumar as saying.
“Sunil Sharma, son of Bansi Lal Sharma has stated that as a part of conspiracy in between the nights of 7th and 8th August, 2013 posters containing photographs of Maqbool, Afzal Guru and Shabir Shah were pasted in Kitchloo Mohalla and on the walls of the house of Kitchloo despite a good contingent of police force always remains guarding the house and on that night Kitchloo was in his house at Kishtwar”, the Report adds.
“On 6th, 7th and 8th August, Sajjad Kichloo along with Farooq Kitchloo, Imam of Jama Masjid, Ghulam Nabi Gundna and Abdul Qayoom Mattoo visited villages Huller, Sangrambhata, Pui, Bhandarna and Hunjala.
These people have separatists background and Gundna was booked under PSA and his one son is in Pakistan since last 20 years and is a top leader of some militant organisation.
The purpose of their visit to villages was to polarise the voters and take benefit in election by consolidation of Muslim votes. The procession also came on Eid day well prepared from these villages having small containers with them, like milk pots, at his instance which never happened in the history of Kishtwar.
He has also stated that Minister and the Deputy Commissioner remained sitting in the Dak Bunglow and were having the information what is happening outside and could also see from the Dak Bunglow with their own eyes as to what is happening in the Chowgan and despite having such information he did not come out from the Dak Bunglow which itself shows that he was part of the conspiracy and happy that whatever conspiracy he has hatched is yielding its desired results”, the Report maintains.
“SP Shiv Kumar Chouhan, Incharge Special Investigation Team (SIT) has also stated that it has come out from his investigation and is also correct that on 6th, 7th and 8th August, the Minister was at Kishtwar town and on these dates, he visited villages Sangrambhata, Huller, Pui and surrounding villages on that side and the processionists also came from these villages which were visited by the Minister, raising anti-national slogans”, the report states.
According to Justice Gandhi Report, “In further evidences against Kitchloo, Khursheed Ahmed, son of Ghulam Hussain Shah has stated that the Minister was in the town and very much present in the Chowgan (Eidgah ground) but he did not gave instructions to the Police to control the burning and rioting which was in his notice. Firdosh Ahmed, son of Khursheed Ahmed has stated in his statement that after Eid Namaz the Minister went to the Dak Bungalow but did not go to Kuleed Chowk. He did not make any effort to save the Bazaar. Rayees Ahmed, son of Abdul Kabir also stated the same and added that had the Minister wanted and issued the instructions the Bazaar would have been saved but he did not issue any instructions to the Police or the Administration to control the Naqabposh and burning of the Bazaar. Khalid Hussain, son of Ghulam Rasool Shah has stated that the Minister instigated the boys”.
“It was part of the planning and conspiracy hatched by a few which was taken to its logical end on Eid day”, says Justice Gandhi report.
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