Probe Lalu’s role in Bhagalpur riots: Congress leader

Patna, April 20 (Inditop) Bihar Congress president Anil Kumar Sharma not only wants Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad out of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) for his anti-Congress remarks, he has also accused him of conspiring with and protecting the main accused in the Bhagalpur riots of 1989.

“Lalu’s role in saving riot-accused Kameshwar Yadav should be probed by the state government,” Sharma told IANS Monday.

The Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) president alleged that Lalu Prasad instigated Kameshwar Yadav to carry out the riots to tarnish the image of the then Congress government in the state.

Kameshwar Yadav, accused of killing a Muslim shop owner with the help of his associates during the communal violence in Bhagalpur, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2007.

The police had earlier closed the case against Kameshwar Yadav, citing lack of evidence. He was given a citation for maintaining communal harmony by the state police in 2004 when the RJD was in power.

The riots erupted after a Hindu religious procession was stoned, allegedly by Muslims. Over 1,000 people, a majority of them Muslims, were killed in the month-long riots in Bhagalpur city in October 1989.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had in 2006 ordered a fresh probe into the 27 riot cases that were closed by the police citing lack of evidence.

Sharma further accused Lalu Prasad of keeping the Bhagalpur riots commission, constituted by the Congress, in limbo under his and his wife’s Rabri Devi tenure as chief minister from 1990 to 2005.

“I demand an inquiry by the Bhagalpur riot commission into the matter,” he said.

On Friday, Lalu Prasad caused a stir alleging that the Congress too was to blame for the 1992 demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya. The remark by the railway minister caused outrage in the Congress.

Sharma had Sunday demanded that both Lalu Prasad and Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan be removed from the UPA government for their baseless allegations against the Congress.

“I, as the president of state congress, have demanded the removal of Lalu and Paswan from the UPA-led government from the party’s central leadership,” Sharma had told reporters.

Paswan, who has entered into an alliance with the RJD, had supported Lalu Prasad’s anti-Congress remarks.

The Congress, whose relations with Lalu Prasad are at an all time low, reacted angrily to his charge, asking him why he raked it up 16 years after the mosque was razed in Ayodhya town. The destruction had led to widespread Hindu-Muslim violence.