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Traitor tag on rioters in MP

Bhopal, Aug. 29: After slapping community fines on communal rioters, Digvijay Singh has equated such violence with sedition.

The Madhya Pradesh chief minister took the decision at a cabinet meeting last night where a controversial report on the 1992 riots that followed the Babri Masjid demolition was presented. The decision would, in effect, make a communal rioter a traitor who would be tried for waging war against the state.

Earlier, the chief minister had slapped a fine of Rs 68 lakh on 161 residents of Dhar district for targeting a particular community in riots over the Bhojshala monument dispute. Even members of Other Backward Classes of Rajgarh were fined for burning crops on land allotted to Dalits.

While Digvijay was busy touting the “traitor” measure as a pathbreaking step, his detractors cutting across party lines dubbed it “another stunt”.

Rights activist Abdul Jabbar accused Digvijay of being insincere as the report had been submitted to the government in March 2000. “What is the point of taking up a report after a gap of 10 years (after the riots) when out of 3,200 accused, 2,600 have been let off. There is no fixation of accountability at any level,” he said.

Jabbar added that many officials who held key posts on December 6 and 7, 1992, subsequently landed plump assignments.

The activist, who is associated with many non-government organisations championing the cause of Bhopal gas victims and leftist groups, said the government could have taken some action had the report been tabled in the Assembly. “Now that the Assembly elections are round the corner, bringing it (the report) in the cabinet is meaningless as there is going to be no Assembly session till (after the) polls,” Jabbar said.

The BJP, too, wondered why the chief minister did not table the report in the Assembly. Party spokesperson Kailash Vijayvargi accused the government of trying to shield some powerful Congress leaders who played a “dubious role” in the riots.

Sources in the know said the report has indicted a minister in the Digvijay government — who was not in the Congress back then — and blamed the BJP regime of 1992 led by Sunderlal Patwa for failing to curb the post- demolition violence that killed more than 200 people.

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