Forbesganj firing: Bihar govt, minorities panel at war

Four Muslim youths were killed in June last year in police firing at Forbesganj in Bihar.

New Delhi: The controversial police firing at Forbesganj in Bihar that led to the killing of four Muslim youths in June last year has sparked a war of words between
the state government and a national panel for minorities.

In a letter to Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, the Chairperson of National Commission for Minorities Wajahat Habibullah has objected to the response of Bihar`s Minority Affairs Minister Shahid Ali Khan on an earlier missive of the
NCM about the incident.

The NCM chief said that Khan`s letter gives an impression that the state government is using the instituting of the judicial commission as an "excuse to cover complete inaction" on the recommendations made by the Commission.

The controversy started after Khurshid`s ministry sent a letter written by Habibullah to the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in September last year days after the NCM probed the incident and submitted a report on it.

In the letter, Habibullah had noted that the confidence of minorities in the state was shaken after the incident and made a number of recommendations to compensate the victims and instill confidence among the community.

In a strongly-worded reply to that letter on November 28 last year, Khan told Khurshid that the Centre`s notion was "grossly misplaced".

He also used the occasion to draw the Union Minister`s attention to the incident of communal violence in Congress-ruled Rajasthan.

"Minorities in Bihar, especially the Muslims are also deeply distressed by the incident that took place in Gopalgarh, Rajasthan about two months ago," he said asking the minister to convey the state`s concern over the "appalling incident" to Habibullah.

Habibullah has in his reply attached a letter written by Syed Shahabuddin, whose daughter Parveen Amanullah is a minister in Nitish Kumar government. "This incident will leave a long term impact on the community not only in Bihar but all
over country," Shahabuddin had said in the letter.

Habibullah said that Shahabuddin, who is also the president of All India Majlis-e-Mushaarat, is in no way connected with the NCM and "he is in fact father of Shahid Ali Khan`s colleague in the Bihar Council of Ministers.

Khan had earlier written "there is nothing in the event, which would be even remotely interpreted to give the impression that minorities were treated in an unfair manner in the situation that led to the incident."

Habibuallah also rejected Khan`s contention that the state government will have to wait for the report of the inquiry commission before taking a final view on compensation and said Khan`s letter "studiously avoids any reference" to
NCM`s recommendations for expediting and streamlining development work in the district.

On Khan asking Khurshid to convey Bihar`s concern about communal violence in Rajasthan to him, Habibullah said, "The government of Rajasthan has not made the judicial and the CBI inquiry an excuse for inaction but has proceeded to take
action under the law, wherever merited."

Talking to a news agency, Habibullah described Khan`s letter as an "ill-advised response".

In the letter, he has also reminded the Bihar government that the recommendations of NCM have already been taken care to avoid comments on any issue.

NCM has also written to the Bihar Chief Secretary on January 10 seeking urgent action on NCM`s recommendations.

Soon after the police firing incident in June last year, Habibullah and NCM member Syeda Bilgrami Imam had visited Forbesganj and latter submitted a report, which had recommended that the victims be given compensation as per the
suggestions laid down in the proposed Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill.