Thursday, 13 December 2012

Azad Maidan Police Station

Unedited excerpt From Volume II, Chapter I of Justice BN Srikrishna Report, dated February 16, 1998, Mumbai

3.1 The population in this area consists of 90% Hindus.

3.2 On 11th December 1992, at about 1715 hours, some of the Hindu boys playing cricket on Azad Maidan were fired upon by two unknown assailants on a motorcycle, resulting in the death of one Nathuram Dhondu Mohite and injuries to four others (C.R.No.841 of 1992). Although one Aslam Koradia, a known Muslim criminal, was suspected of the offence and arrested, he was discharged as none of the witnesses identified him. Some of the recovered empties bore markings in Arabic script. The police appear to have been very remiss in the investigation of this offence in that the empties were not sent to the Ballistic expert for opinion as to the type, calibre and make of the firearm from which the empties could have been fired. The statement of Ramchandra Gopal Khadse, an eyewitness to the incident, suggests that, just before the firing incident the miscreants were seen making inquiries with the onlookers for sometime. Though the miscreants have not been arrested, the incident had all the hallmarks of a communal incident, at the instance of Muslims or someone with intent to stir up communal trouble.

3.3 Another incident of serious nature is the one in which a crude bomb was hurled at the Gol Masjid. This incident occurred despite a bandobust picket posted right in front of the Gol Masjid to protect the Masjid. The police picket was led by assistant sub–inspector Matare and five constables. In the offence registered (C.R. No. 843/92), there is not even a statement of assistant sub–inspector Matare recorded by the investigating officer. The Senior Police Inspector admits, and the Commission agrees, that the conduct of assistant sub–inspector Matare and his picket in sitting inside the Gol Masjid Chowky, though required to be on bandobust in front of Gol Masjid, was thoroughly irresponsible. Strangely, no action appears to have been taken against him for this irresponsible behaviour. Though the Assistant Commissioner of Police Shyam Narahar Kundalkar made a query about the absence of assistant sub–inspector Matare’s statement while scrutinising the case diary, nothing further was done.

3.4 It is the assessment of Assistant Commissioner of Police Kundalkar that in January 1993, within Azad Maidan Police Station area, the trouble was created by groups of people from the adjoining areas of L.T. Marg, Girgaum and V.P. Road police station areas and that the incidents within Colaba and Cuffe Parade were sporadic and carried out stealthily.

3.5 During January 1993, there were in all 12 cases of looting, arson and mischief registered by the police as detailed in Annexure "C" to the affidavit of Senior Police Inspector Deore.

3.6 One Urdu pamphlet inciting the Muslim youths to resort to guerilla war against Hindus, and the brutal and communally–minded police force, was seized by the police, though no arrests were made in this case. Though the miscreants were not identified, it is apparent that they were bent upon stirring up communal disharmony.

3.7 The Shiv Sena referred to and strongly relied on the information contained in C.R. No. 5 of 1993, DCB–CID (initially C.R. No.122 of 1993 registered by Azad Maidan Police Station) to contend that there was a widespread conspiracy amongst various criminals funded by the notorious Dubai based criminal, Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, to smuggle arms and ammunition into India and to distribute them to the Muslim criminal elements in the Muslim dominated areas in order to bring about communal riots. But, careful reading of the case papers in light of evidence of the then Additional Commissioner of Police in–charge of SB–I, CID, V.S. Deshmukh, negatives this contention. Apart from the statement of the police officer lodging the FIR, Police Inspector Rajan Dinanath Dhobale, there appears to be no other material to support Shiv Sena’s theory.

The offence is said to have occurred between 7th December 1992 to 7th January 1993, but conveniently reported on 8th January 1993 at 2000 hours. All the local criminals, incidentally Muslims, have been named as conspirators. The only supporting evidence is a statement of another police officer from DCB–CID, assistant Police Inspector Nagesh Shivdas Lohar, who claims to have relied on "secret information" received from informants to put forward the theory of conspiracy, but says that none of the informants was prepared to come forward and give statements, because of fear and terror created by five Muslim persons whom he has named. There is one more statement of Police Inspector Mohan Vasantrao Aklujkar of DCB–CID, based on information received that Kadar Rangilla, an associate of the notorious criminal, Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, was active during the December 1992 and January 1993 riots and that he received firearms from Dawood which he distributed to criminals and miscreants in Muslim dominated areas. The said Kadar Rangilla was arrested and taken into custody. There are panchanamas dated 9th January 1993, 19th January 1993, 26th January 1993, 31st January 1993, 6th February 1993, 23rd February 1993, of searches conducted by police at various places during which nothing incriminating was found, nor seized. The entire case appears to be based on some "reliable information" which the police have never put to test. In fact, all the persons who were initially arrested on suspicion were discharged as nothing incriminatory was found.

3.8 Finally, the police classified the case in "A" summary, i.e. "true but undetected". In the view of the Commission, the truth, if any, has not been vouched by any police officer and the ‘reliable information’ relied upon by them could not be put to test. During the said period there were all kinds of rumours floated by word of mouth and in newspapers, based on strong partisan views.

3.9 The Commission, therefore, is unable to accept the contention of the Shiv Sena that the case papers of this case bear out the Conspiracy Theory advocated by it, without any material apart from the ipse dixit of police officers. In fact, Additional Commissioner of Police, V.N. Deshmukh, was candid enough to admit that, though such a conspiracy was suspected, despite vigorous investigations, the police were not able to unearth any material to support the theory, nor were they able to seize any arms and ammunition alleged to have been smuggled into the Muslim dominated areas for the purpose of engineering riots.

3.10 That the police were sold on the conspiracy theory is apparent from the fact that, even in C.R. No.841 of 1992, without carrying out proper investigations or seeking expert ballistic opinion, Senior Police Inspector Deore, shot off a report dated 26th December 1992 to his superiors hazarding a guess that the miscreants must have been Muslims and that the arms might have been illegally brought into the country from Pakistan. Under the stress of cross–examination, he was forced to admit that these views were expressed by sheer guess work and that there was no material in support.

3.11 The conspiracy theory propounded by the Shiv Sena falls to the ground.

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