Thursday, 13 December 2012

Colaba Police Station

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

6.1 The jurisdictional area of this police station is about 2.59 sq. kms. About 80% of the residents of this area are highly educated Hindus belonging to the upper strata of society, though the area also has its share of slums like Sundar Nagari, Azad Nagari, Sudam Nagari, Darya Nagari, Geeta Nagar and Ganesh Murti Nagar abutting the seaface which are inhabited both by Hindus and Muslims. About 80% of the slum population comprises Hindus and the rest Muslims.

6.2 During December 1992, though there was increase in communal tension on account of the atmosphere prevailing elsewhere in the city, there were no communal incidents at all in this jurisdiction. This fact has considerable significance and leads to the inference that the communal incidents which occurred in January 1993 might have been engineered by interested persons.

6.3 In January 1993, the local Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party workers organized Mahaartis on 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th. The Mahaarti on 9th January 1993 organized by the Shiv Sena Shakha Pramukh at Hanuman Temple, Colabawadi, between 1940 to 2040 hours was attended by a number of local Shiv Sena leaders, apart from about 2000–2500 others. There was no incident after this.

6.4 The Shiv Sena organized another Mahaarti at Veer Bajrang Temple, at the junction of S.B. Road and Arthur Bunder Road, Jaggannath Jairam Palan Chowk, between 2000 to 2100 hours on 11th January 1993. The crowd dispersing from this Mahaarti appeared to be angry and restive and, for that reason, was accompanied by police officers. When the crowd came near Blue Star Company, the crowd started running, looking for one Abdul Razak alias Aba Kalsekhar, a local Muslim and a known goonda. In the meanwhile, Abdul Razak alias Aba Kalsehkar appeared on the scene. It is alleged by the police that he and three or four of his associates were armed with swords and were abusing and threatening the members of the public and the police; suddenly there was a scuffle and the mob attacked Aba Kalshekar with sharp weapons. The police story is that he had attempted to assault one of the police constables with a sword as a result of which there was firing. Four to five rounds were fired by the police at the end of which the police recovered the bleeding body of Aba Kalshekar, who was declared dead before admission by the hospital.

6.5 The story set up by the police rings hollow. Senior Police Inspector Upendrabahadur Ramadhar Singh, (Witness No.140), says that the crowd which attended theMahaarti was peaceful and not carrying any weapons, that the speeches delivered by the Shiv Sena local leaders were absolutely innocuous and contained little else except exhortation to the public to attend Mahaartis, the details of which were given on the public address system. The port–mortem report of the body of Abdul Razak alias Aba Kalshekar shows that he had 45 serious stab and incised injuries in addition to one injury caused by fire–arm, all injuries being ante–mortem.

6.6 That the crowd was chasing Abdul Razak with murderous intent is apparent from the statements of all witnesses recorded in the concerned case (C.R.No.13 of 1993). It is unbelievable that the peaceful crowd suddenly came to posses lethal weapons, as if by magic. That the crowd was angry when dispersing from Mahaarti, is the testimony of Senior Police Inspector Singh and the statements of the other police officers. The statements recorded in the case seem to suggest that Abdul Razak had swung his sword at the head of P.N. No. 985, who ducked, and when Abdul Razak attempted to strike another blow with his sword at P.N.No.985, Police Sub–Inspector ordered him to fire. No one is sure whether Abdul Razak was injured in that firing. According to the statement of Suresh Pandurang Ithape, P.N. No. 3181, Aba continued to run towards Azadnagari, all the while brandishing his sword. In the meanwhile, the mob with murderous intentions surrounded Aba and hacked him to death.

Ithape says that he had fired one round from .410 musket which resulted in dispersal of mob. When the police party advanced, they found the body of Abdul Razak lying in a pool of blood with multiple injuries and shifted his body to St. George’s Hospital where he was declared dead before admission. Senior Police Inspector Singh admits that the mood of the mob appeared to be that, because Abdul Razak was a Muslim and had given cause for offence, the property belonging to Muslims must be destroyed. If the Police version is true, then at one point Abdul Razak must have been close enough to the police party to strike them with his sword. It is surprising as to why he was not overpowered and had to be shot, at almost point blank range.

The Commission feels that this is a case where the police not only passively allowed a local goonda to be exterminated by the blood–thirsty mob, but actively aided the mob by firing upon Abdul Abdul Razak. The fact that he might have been a notorious criminal of the area would be no justification for the police to allow his being hacked by the mob. In the view of the Commission, the entire police party which was at the scene of the offence comprising Sub–Inspector Vasant Madhukar More, Assistant Police Inspector Sahebrao Hari Jadhav, P.N.No.3181 Suresh Pandurang Ithape, P.N. No. 985 Shivaji Govindrao Kashid, P.N. No.22338 Hanumant Pandurang Chavan, H.C. No. 3649 Gopichand Shaitram Borase is culpable for the cold–blooded murder of Abdul Razak.

The story of the police that Abdul Razak was carrying a sword and brandishing it also does not seem true, since the panchanama made contemporaneously does not disclose seizure of a sword. It is tepidly suggested by the police that the sword was later on deposited by a police constable as having been seized at the spot. The crowning irony of the situation is that the FIR registered vide C.R.No.13 of 1993 is not for murder of Abdul Razak, but treats him as an accused who was attempting to commit murder, voluntarily cause hurt to members of public with sword and attempting to promote enmity between different groups on the basis of religion, offences under Sections 307, 304, 153A and Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The fact that the statement of Banu Abdul Razak Kalshekar, widow of Abdul Razak Kalshekar, was neither treated as an FIR, nor was a complaint registered in respect of his death, fortifies the conclusion that the police connived in the elimination of Abdul Razak.

6.7 The mood of the mob to destroy the property of Muslims, sensed by Senior Police Inspector Singh, appears to have been translated into action over the next three days. The area saw a case of arson of a pav stall and a chappal stall of a Muslim on 12th January 1993 (C.R.No.15 of 1993), arson of a cycle shop of a Muslim on 13th January 1993 (C.R.No.18 of 1993) and the throwing of a burning bottle on Colabawadi Mosque on 20th January 1993 (C.R.No.23 of 1993). All these cases have been classified in "A" summary on the ground that the identity of the accused could not be established.

6.8 Despite the vehemence with which Senior Police Inspector Singh maintained that the Mahaartis organized in his jurisdiction by the local Shiv Sena shakha leaders went off peacefully and that there were no inciting speeches made therein, it appears too much of a coincidence to believe that the area which was calm and quiet upto the time the Mahaartis were conducted, without reason, suddenly erupted into incidents of communal violence. It appears obvious that somebody was engineering the incidents. The clue to this is given by the Confidential Source Report. The SB–I, CID had by a Source Report warned all the police stations that Hindus returning fromMahaartis, particularly Shiv Sainiks, were likely to indulge in damaging and looting of Muslim establishments. Despite such a Source Report, the Senior Police Inspector considered it advisable to allow the Mahaartis as he felt that refusal to allow them would have created bigger law and order problem. Senior Police Inspector Singh is equally culpable for the consequences of the Mahaartis.

6.9 The Commission is inclined to think that the circumstantial evidence on record is too strong to accept the theory of the police that there was no connection between the Mahaartis and the communal incidents.

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