'ISI behind 1993 Bhatkal riots'
PT Bopanna | Bangalore
In a major victory for the ruling coalition partner BJP in Karnataka, the Cabinet has decided to accept the report of a commission of inquiry, which perhaps for the first time in the country had blamed the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan for a series of communal riots in the coastal city of Bhatkal.
The decision of the Cabinet to accept the controversial report of Justice Jagannath Shetty Commission has demonstrated the growing clout of the BJP in the ruling coalition headed by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) (JD-S).
The significance of the decision can be gauged from the fact that the successive Governments headed by JH Patel, SM Krishna and Dharam Singh had shied away from making the report public because of the "explosive" nature of the report.
The Justice Kedambady Jagannath Shetty Commission, headed by a High Court judge, had probed the communal carnage during 1993 in Bhatkal, Uttara Kannada district in which 17 persons were killed, 90 injured, 226 houses burnt and 143 shops looted.
The Cabinet which met late on Friday evening, accepted the Shetty Commission report with some amendments, as suggested by the State Home department. However, a Cabinet spokesman declined to divulge the details of the amendments.
Besides, the Cabinet also decided to accept another report submitted by Justice Ramachandraiah Commission which probed the murder of Bhatkal MLA Dr U Chittaranjan, who was shot dead in 1996.
The murder was investigated by the CBI which drew a blank. In its report submitted way back in 1997, based on the evidence given by witnesses, the Shetty Commission had established that Pakistan's ISI was secretly operating through its agents in Bhatkal, by creating disturbances.
With the reports being accepted, the stage has been set for tabling the two reports in the Legislature. The acceptance of the report is a moral victory for the BJP, which has been demanding for nearly decade for tabling the report in the Legislature.
In the normal course, the JD (S) would not have agreed for accepting the sensitive reports. With the image of the JD (S) on the wane and Chief Minister Kumaraswamy being increasingly marginalized because of serious charges of corruption against him, the BJP has moved in for the kill with lightning speed to arm-twist the JD (S) to accept the reports. It would be of interest to know the amendments made by the government to sugarcoat the explosive reports.
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