Nearly 40 years after a retired judge submitted an inquiry report on large-scale communal riots that broke out in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad district, the state government on Tuesday tabled its findings in the Assembly, The Indian Express reported.

At least 83 persons died and 112 were injured after riots broke out in Moradabad on August 13, 1980. The violence subsequently spread to the rural areas of the district, as well as Sambhal, Aligarh, Bareilly and Allahabad (now Prayagraj). Incidents of violence continued till early 1981.

At the time, a Congress government led by VP Singh was in power in Uttar Pradesh and Indira Gandhi was the prime minister. VP Singh went on to become the prime minister in 1989 as a leader of the Janata Dal.

On November 29, 1983, Justice (Retired) MP Saxena of the Allahabad High Court had submitted a report on the violence. However, the report was not made public and no action was taken on the basis of its recommendation.

The report cleared the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the local administration of wrongdoing, the Hindustan Times reported. It blamed Indian Union Muslim League leader Shamim Ahmed and a man named Hamid Hussain for inciting the riots. However, it said that common Muslims were not responsible for the violence.

The violence was said to have begun when rumours spread that pigs had been let loose at Eidgah grounds in Moradabad where a group of Muslims were offering Eid prayers. According to the report, members of the Muslim community then attacked police stations and Hindus.

“It in turn forced Hindus to retaliate, turning the situation into a communal riot,” the retired judge said.

“As a large number of people belonging to the minority community were killed in the violence, the incidents continued even after August 13, 1980,” the report said. “There was anguish as those killed included children though they died in the stampede.”

Justice (Retired) Saxena said that the violence took place due to a “leadership tussle” within a section of the Muslim community. He claimed that as the Muslim population in the area was increasing, they were being urged to consider themselves as a “vote bank” for electoral purposes.

The inquiry said that firing by the police and provincial armed constabulary to control the riots was “legally appropriate” and the local administration took necessary steps to maintain peace.

The report recommended that the “habit of considering Muslims as a vote bank in the election” should be discouraged. It also said that the administration should keep a watch on “professional criminals in the communally sensitive areas” who have a history of causing disturbances.

Commenting on the report, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said on Tuesday that all parties should welcome it, the Hindustan Times reported. “The common people will know who fans the riots, who supports it and who fights against the communal violence,” he said.

However, ST Hasan, Samajwadi Party MP from Moradabad, said that the report had incorrectly blamed Shamim Ahmed and Hamid Hussain.

He also alleged that the BJP government tabled the report in order to polarise voters ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. “The conspiracy of the BJP will not succeed as the people of UP have made up their mind to support the INDIA alliance in the 2024 Lok Sabha election,” Hasan said.