Thursday, 13 December 2012

Deonar Police Station

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

9.1 Prior to 1984 the area falling in this police station was part of Trombay Police Station jurisdiction and consisted of large tracts of wasteland used for dumping garbage. The shifting of the abattoir from Bandra to Deonar brought in its wake relocation of large number of butchers in this area. This police station was established some time in the year 1985 to attend to law and order problems which had arisen on account of large scale influx of illegal squatters and mushrooming of unauthorized slums. 80% to 90% of the total population of about 5 lakhs in this area comprises Muslims. Large tracts of lands are marshy and vacant, belonging to Government of Maharashtra or Bombay Municipal Corporation. There has been haphazard reclamation of land from the marshy creeks. This area is considered to be communally most sensitive in view of the large population of Muslims living cheek–by–jowl with Hindus. The Muslim population is concentrated in localities like Shivaji Nagar, Bainganwadi, Lotus Colony, Rafiq Nagar, Sanjay Nagar, Kamala Raman Nagar, Padma Nagar, Zakir Hussain Nagar and Tata Nagar which are thickly populated hutment colonies having extremely narrow lanes for access. The strong Hindu pockets are around Ram Mandir in Shivaji Nagar, Plot Nos.1 to 10 of Bainganwadi, Teachers’ Colony, Municipal Workers Colony, Lumbini Baug, one pocket in Padma Nagar, one pocket in Saibaba Nagar and Sanjay Nagar.

9.2 The assessment of manpower, equipment and arms and ammunition prior to December 1992 is that it was hopelessly inadequate to meet even the day–to–day working of the police station and obviously inadequate to meet the extraordinary situations which arose during the two riot periods.

9.3 Despite the area being dominated by Muslims, the Hindutva parties like Bharatiya Janata Party and VHP were active in the area and carried out their activities of holding meetings, distributing pamphlets and giving speeches on the disputed issue of Ram Janmabhoomi–Babri Masjid during July to December 1992. They also heldGhantanaad programmes on the day of Kar Seva i.e. on 6th December 1992.

9.4 Despite its highly sensitive nature, this police station was unfortunate in having its senior officers transferred during the height of riots. Deputy Commissioner of Police Ramchandran was transferred on 5th December 1992 and replaced by Deputy Commissioner of Police P.D. Pawar on the same day. Similarly, during the height of the riots, Senior Police Inspector Bhagwatrao Bandu Padwal–Patil was transferred out on 19th December 1992 and replaced by Senior Police Inspector S.D. Jadhav w.e.f. 28th December 1992. Though it is claimed that the transfer of Senior Police Inspector Padwal-Patil was a routine matter and did not amount to reflection on his handling of the riots during the month of December 1992, changing of horses in midstream obviously had its adverse effects.

9.5 This is one police station jurisdiction where, during both phases of riots, the Muslims gave more than they took. During December 1992 police registered 36 cases of communal violence/rioting of which 18 cases were closed by classifying them in "A" summary and charge–sheets were filed in rest of the cases. In one case accused died after the charge–sheet was filed in the Court and the case abated. Out of the 36 cases registered by police, 19 cases were in connection with rioting and mob action and 17 pertained to assaults on individuals.

9.6 The trouble began in December 1992 at about 2100 hours on 6th December 1992 when mobs of Muslims started pelting stones at vehicles and BEST buses moving along the link road through Muslim dominated areas. At about 2300 hours on the same day there was an attack on the house of one Gundeti, a local Bharatiya Janata Party activist and leader of Bharatiya Janata Party from Shivaji Nagar (C.R.No.893 of 1992). The interrogatory statements of the accused arrested in this case, which included two Hindus, suggest that the reason for the attack was the organizing of several meetings in the area by Gundeti. There was also an attack on Shiva temple and Geeta Vikas School and an attack on Hanuman temple at Shivaji Nagar, Plot no.34. (C.R.Nos.894 and 895 of 1992). There was damage and attempted arson to Shiva temple and Geeta Vikas School. Hanuman temple in Shivaji Nagar was damaged completely and the idol of Hanuman was smashed to pieces. There was heavy stone pelting at the houses around the Hanuman temple. Though the police claimed that the Muslim mob had carried out heavy stone pelting at houses around the Hanuman Mandir in Shivaji Nagar, the panchanama recorded in C.R.No.895 of 1992 does not bear out this fact. Nor is there any reference in the FIR to attack on Hindu houses on Plot No.34 in Shivaji Nagar.

9.7 There is another case of serious rioting on 7th December 1992 at between 0900 to 0930 hours near Janata Dairy, Hari Masjid, Shivaji Nagar (C.R.No.896 of 1992). Though it is the case of the police that a large mob of Muslims wearing black bands on their arms and shouting slogans against the demolition of Babri Masjid had demolished the Hanuman Mandir and attacked the Hindus in the locality, one of the accused who died in police firing was a Hindu by name Keshavlal Modi residing in the close vicinity. According to the statement of Sub–Inspector Patel, one of the officers injured in mob action, Keshavlal Modi, was a part of the rioting mob and was inciting the persons in the mob to attack the police by taking active part in rioting and had been injured in police firing. The post–mortem report shows that he had been shot in the chest and he also had an injury on his right middle arm caused by a hard and blunt object. Crime Report No.11 made by the investigating officer on 17th March 1993 shows that at the time of the offence there was rioting between Hindus and Muslims and that Keshavlal Modi had been injured in the police firing. These facts suggest that there was a Hindu mob at the place of incident, though it is not clear whether the Hindu mob came later on to defend the attack on the Hanuman Mandir. The investigation into this serious offence appears to have been carried out shoddily with no attempts made by the investigating officer to ascertain the particulars of the Hindu mob. Although Senior Police Inspector Padwal–Patil came on the spot immediately after the incident had occurred, the staff on duty appeared to have given him the impression that it was only a Muslim mob that had attacked the police and did not even inform him that one Hindu had died during the incident. In fact, under stress of cross–examination, when confronted with records, Senior Police Inspector Padwal–Patil conceded that attack on the police during the incident did not appear to be only by the Muslim mob and that the investigations carried out into the offence were wholly improper. It would appear that at the time when Senior Police Inspector Padwal–Patil went to the scene he had seen only the Muslim mob and based on it asserted that it was a case of a Muslim mob attacking the police.

9.8 There was one more incident on 7th December 1992 between 1000 to 1100 hours (C.R.No.897 of 1992) in which there was rioting and unlawful assembly by Muslims between Plot Nos. 20 and 31 at Shivaji Nagar. Police action, which included firing, resulted in apprehension of 32 Muslim accused on the spot and two Muslim accused subsequently. Death of three Muslims and injuries to three Muslims took place in this police action. Even in this case, according to the FIR, there was a Hindu mob which was also rioting and there was firing towards the Hindu mob which resulted in two Hindus being injured and falling down. However, the police records do not indicate any particulars of the two injured Hindus, except stating so. While the police appear to have taken great pains to make inquiries from all the private and government hospitals to obtain information about persons treated for bullet injuries and appear to have tracked down some of the Muslim accused injured in police firing, curiously, they appear to have drawn a blank with regard to Hindu accused. Crime Report No.11 dated 24th December 1992 (Ex. 2745-C) suggests that instructions were given by Deputy Commissioner of Police and other senior officers that the attempt to investigate and identify accused who had received bullet injuries was stopped as it was apprehended that such action of police may lead to escalation of communal tension. During this incident of rioting 23 establishments of Hindus and 43 establishments of Muslims were subjected to damage and looting. In fact, the statement (Ex.2756-C) of Jagannath K.Salve, PC-26010, recorded in this case shows that when he and Police Inspector Pandit reached the scene of incident and alighted from the jeep they saw a violent mob throwing stones and soda-water bottles in the direction of Hari Masjid, Lotus Colony and Rafiq Nagar. More curiously, the words, "Lotus Colony Wa Rafiq Nagarchya" in the statement have been scored out.

Lotus Colony and Rafiq Nagar are predominant Muslim localities. Even the FIR suggests that the first firing carried out by Police Inspector Pandit and staff was towards the Hindu mob. By that time the Muslim mob came dangerously close to the police party led by Police Inspector Pandit and one of them even tried to snatch away a rifle carried by a policeman. The police fired in air to scare away the mob. It was the third instance of firing in which six Muslims were hit. The interrogatory statement of arrested accused Ahmed Ulla Barkat Ulla Khan suggests that he and other Muslims were preparing to take out a protest morcha to protest against demolition of Babri Masjid when others started pelting stones, the police arrived at the scene people started running away and around this time he was apprehended.

9.9 Another incident of rioting took place between 0900 to 1200 hours on 7th December 1992 in Padma Nagar (C.R.No.898 of 1992). A violent mob of Muslims attacked the police during the course of which two policemen HC-13181 (Sawant) and PN-5933 (Bhalerao) were attacked with sharp weapons and killed. Bhalerao fell down bleeding and died before he could be admitted to the hospital. The miscreants dragged away the body of HC Sawant which was later on discovered concealed under garbage in the garbage–dump. The discovery came to be made as a result of interrogation of an accused in another case. There was a police picket of nine constables near Datta Mandir in Padma Nagar for bandobast. The violent mob of Muslims overran the police picket and attacked the two police personnel despite firing of 18 rounds by police. The police were so hopelessly outnumbered that they had to beat a strategic retreat and requisition additional help. In the meanwhile, Bhalerao was killed by the attacking mob and Sawant was dragged away in injured condition. Thirteen Muslims were killed in the incident and six were injured, apart from the two constables killed by Muslim mob. One hundred fifty one establishments of Hindus and 147 of Muslims were damaged and destroyed. In seven cases the damage was due to arson and rest of the establishments were looted.

9.10 Between 1000 to 1230 hours on 7th December 1992 there was a violent clash between Hindu and Muslim mobs in the area from Sharda Hotel Junction to Rafiq Nagar dumping ground, Shivaji Nagar (C.R.No.899 of 1992). Three Muslims and one Hindu died in police firing in this case. In this case the property damage consisted of 340 establishments of Muslims, 44 of Hindus and one of a Christian.

9.11 On 7th December 1992 between 1245 to 1400 hours there was a violent clash between Hindu and Muslim mobs at Plot Nos.25, 26, 27, and 1 to 6, Shivaji Nagar and the open space on Plot Nos.7 to 12, Govandi (C.R.No.900 of 1992). Three Muslims and two Hindus were killed in police firing while one Muslim and two Hindus were injured. Twenty three establishments of Muslims and eight of Hindus were damaged during the incident. Forty three Muslims, all accused, have been arrested in this case. There is some confusion as to the death of one Jhakuram Mohar Jaiswal. The post–mortem report and warrant for disposal of the body by coroner stated that the death occurred on 8th December 1992. Even the statement of the nephew of the deceased, Jagannath Jaiswal, indicates the date of the death as 8th December 1992. But the date is overwritten as 7th December 1992 in the FIR.

9.12 The next case pertains to unlawful assembly and rioting on 8th December 1992 between 2100 to 2200 hours near market place, Bainganwadi, Plot Nos.9 and 10 Govandi (C.R.No.902 of 1992). Seven Hindus have been arrested in this case while one Hindu, Manik Tukaram Kamble, died in police firing of nine rounds fired during the incident. This was a case where the Hindus were led by Manik Tukaram Kamble, a local Shiv Sena leader, who was inciting the Hindus to attack the Muslims. Seventy four establishments of Muslims and 71 of Hindus and one of a Christian were damaged in this incident.

9.13 On 8th December 1992 a motor–car MRD 6025 was stopped when it was about to enter the curfew bound jurisdiction of Deonar. The constables on duty were informed by the passengers in the car that they were the representatives of press, but no curfew passes were produced for inspection. While the police were still inquiring with the passengers, the car reversed and drove away towards Bainganwadi. The said car was found parked near the rickshaw stand in Bainganwadi. Subsequently, the passengers of the car were arrested and one Taher Yunus Ashrafi was amongst them. All the accused were residents of Sakhli Street in Nagpada jurisdiction. According to the complaint made by Abdul Hamid Khan, Special Executive Magistrate, Taher Ashrafi had taken a meeting of Muslims in the Bainganwadi area and was instigating the Muslim boys to do illegal acts. The Senior Police Inspector tried to brush off this incident by saying that it was a minor incident, but the cross–examination by Shiv Sena’s Councel elicited the utter negligence of police in not properly investigating the incident and the admission of Senior Police Inspector that the incident was a serious one meriting careful investigation which has not been done (C.R.No.903 of 1992).

9.14 On 8th December 1992 between 1330 to 1330 hours, there was an incident of arson and an alleged attack on the police at Umarkhadi Dumping Ground, Govandi (C.R.No.909 of 1992). The police resorted to firing resulting in the death of four Muslims and injuries to two Muslims. Strangely, however, the incident left in its wake property damage to 40 establishments of Hindus and 207 establishments of Muslims, though in the entire FIR, there is no reference to the presence of any Hindu mob. The suggested explanation for this strange phenomenon by the police is that the fire started in a Hindu house and spread to the adjacent Muslim houses. One Muslim, Shaikh Mohd. Sallauddin, sustained stab injuries due to mob action. This is indicative of the fact that perhaps there was a rival mob of Hindus also involved in the incident which the police have either ignored or suppressed. That the statement of Police Sub–Inspector Milind Pandurang Kedare about the mob attacking the police with swords is an exaggerated version is admitted by the Senior Police Inspector. There is also utter confusion with regard to identities of injured persons. Though the police papers show one Haji Mohd. Yunus Jhelani, Muslim, age 35, as a wanted accused, the actual person who was injured in police firing is a boy of 13 years who was treated in Shatabdi Hospital for bullet injuries as an out–patient, admitted in the hospital on 11th December 1992 and discharged on 27th January 1993. Though a hypothesis was advanced by the police that some of the claims made by the Muslims with regard to the property damage could have been bogus, it is admitted by Senior Police Inspector Padwal–Patil that there was no material to suggest this.

9.15 There was an attack on the Marimata temple, presumably by Muslims, on 19th December 1992 between 2100 to 2300 hours (C.R. No. 923/92). This case has been classified in "A" summary.

9.16 The case regarding destruction of Dutta Mandir on Plot No.13, G Line on 8th December 1992 between 0100 to 0230 hours (C.R.No.925 of 1992) was classified in "A" summary. Though the complainant had stated that the police had fired during the incident, there is no record showing that police had fired.

9.17 There was an incident of attempted arson at Kena Market Masjid between 2345 to 0030 hours on 7th December 1992 (C.R.No.928 of 1992). The damage to the Masjid was a burnt electric box. Kena Market Masjid was attacked on two occasions by Hindus within a short period. The police fired two rounds on the first occasion and seven rounds during the second and chased away the attackers. This case has also been classified in "A" summary.

9.18 C.R.Nos.948 of 1992, 927 of 1992, 936 of 1992, 937 of 1992, 945 of 1992, 914 of 1992 and 950 of 1992 are cases of attacks on individuals, presumably by members of rival community. The miscreants have not been identified and all these cases have been classified in "A" summary.

9.19 There was an attack on and destruction of Shankar Mandir, unlawful assembly and rioting near the vicinity of Shantinagar, Baiganwadi, Govandi on 8th December 1992 between 0730 to 0815 hours (C.R.No.911 of 1992). The police fired 15 rounds, one in the air and 14 at the rioters causing the death of one Muslim, Tayyabali Shaikh. One Muslim accused has been arrested and a case is pending against him. The property damage in the incident consisted of 32 establishments of Hindus and 43 establishments of Muslims.

9.20 On 8th December 1992 at about 1100 hours, there was a case of rioting and unlawful assembly on Plot No.6, Baji Prabhu Deshpande Marg (C.R.No.917 of 1992). The police fired to quell the riot and caused the death of one Muslim, Mohsin Khan. The property damage consisted of 13 establishments of Hindus and eight of Muslims. One Hindu, Devendra Zende, was injured in police firing.

9.21 In an incident of rioting, arson and looting opposite Akani Estate, Sanjay Nagar, on 8th December 1992 between 1115 to 1215 hours (C.R.No.910 of 1992), there was firing by police resulting in death of seven Muslims and one Hindu and injury to one Hindu. Two hundred thirty establishments of Hindus and 63 of Muslims were damaged during the incident. The dead included a Muslim child of six years, Nissar Ahmed Rais Khan. Investigation in this case resulted in the arrest of two Muslims, Mohd.Aslam alias Acchhemiya Akhtar Miya alias Gharya Aslam and Abdul Ghani Kamaruddin Mulla alias Kadvekar, both notorious characters in the local area with previous criminal record.

9.22 Opposite Sanjay Nagar School, Bainganwadi, there was an incident of rioting and unlawful assembly between violent mobs of Hindus and Muslims on 8th December 1992 between 0915 to 1045 hours (C.R.No.901 of 1992). Thirty–six accused, all Muslims, have been arrested in connection with this incident. Thirty two accused were arrested on the spot and four later on. Fifty–three establishments of Hindus and 58 of Muslims were damaged during the incident. Nine Muslims died in police firing while one Hindu and two Muslims were injured. The seriousness of the incident can be gauged by the fact that 132 rounds were fired by police. Three swords, broken pieces of hand bomb and five bottles filled with petrol were seized from the miscreants. Ballistic expert’s report suggests that pieces of bomb were remnants of an explosive device.

9.23 The then Chief Minister Shri Sudhakarrao Naik had attended one function within this jurisdiction for distribution of compensation to riot victims and their families. But the families of the deceased policemen, Bhalerao and Sawant, were not given any compensation during that function.

9.24 Out of the 50 persons killed in different incidents during December 1992, only six are Hindus and 44 are Muslims.

9.25 There is a justified grievance made by Shiv Sena that during the period of riots the hands of the police were tied by the instructions given by the government that no firing was to be effected. Reference is made to B.C. Message No.414 dated 10th December 1992 at 2340 hour from Additional Commissioner of Police addressed to all static wireless, all SRPF vehicles, officers and mobiles. The message was, "under no circumstances should there be firing in order to bring riots under control. Tear–gas and lathi charge should be used on large–scale and the situation should be brought under control". That, such instructions were received by the police station is beyond doubt. Though, the Commissioner of Police, S.K. Bapat, denies all knowledge of having authorized issuance of such a message, it is difficult to accept his version. Even in the official copies of the B.C. Messages maintained by the police Control Room such a message is seen.

9.26 There is also a grievance made by Shiv Sena that by B.C. Message 426 dated 11th December 1992 from the Commissioner of Police, all Senior Police Inspectors were instructed to release persons preventively arrested, for curfew violation or arrested under Section 6 of the Bombay Police Act. There is a third grievance that by B.C. Message issued on the same day, the Senior Police Inspectors were instructed not to waste their time and energy in arresting persons for minor offences and that they should look into all cases of preventive arrests and release people on bail.

9.27 During December 1992 riots 11 temples in the area were damaged while only one masjid i.e. the Kena Market Masjid was attacked. And in an attempted arson there was minor damage caused to the electric meter box in the masjid.

9.28 Shri Javed Khan, the then Housing Minister, had visited the police station on 23rd October 1992 for pressurizing police not to register cases against some of his followers. He also used to visit the police station during the period 6th to 13th of December 1992. There is no material on record from which it can be said that during this period Shri Javed Khan had put pressure against the police not to arrest Muslim accused or to let them off as suggested by Shiv Sena.

9.29 There was a strange case of a telephone message even by Police Sub–Inspector Joshi of SB–I, CID, Eastern Zone, Ghatkopar on 16th December 1992 at 0320 for immediate arrest of certain activists of ISS, Bainganwadi, adjacent to Noori Masjid. This requisition was in response to the banning of ISS by the Government of India. The police appear to have done nothing in this matter.

9.30 The learned counsel for Shiv Sena pointedly drew attention of the Commission to the recovery of a sword at the instance of accused Abdul Ghani Kamruddin Mulla alias Kadvekar from a hut in front of which there was a flag flying with the words, "Ghausia Pak". Obviously, the suggestion was that it had something to do with Pakistan. The suggestion stems from not understanding that the words merely referred to Holy Saint Gelani who is popularly known as Ghaus; the word "Pak" in Urdu only means "Holy". Much has been made of the fact that Senior Police Inspector Patil was hospitalized on 13th December 1992 and after attending the office on 19th December 1992 he was immediately transferred to Crime Branch. There is no material to accept the suggestion of Shiv Sena that Senior Police Inspector was transferred because he had refused to toe the line of Muslim appeasement adopted by the senior officers.

9.31 In this area too it is claimed that there were instances of private firing. It is claimed that there was private firing at the police from a terrace of a building situated opposite Khalid Bakery on Gajanan Colony Road (C.R.No.899 of 1992). It is claimed that the person doing private firing was injured by police firing, but he could not be traced thereafter. The material on record is too scanty to support the theory. Though it is claimed by Shiv Sena that one Chandrakant Yamagar who died in this incident had died because of private firing, there is no material to suggest this.

9.32 There was an attack on the house of local activist of Shiv Sena, Balkrishna Gosavi Patil, on 7th December 1992 at 1900 hours (C.R.No.915 of 1992). Sixteen accused (14 Muslims and two Hindus) were arrested. The interrogation of Hindu accused, Shama Rangappa Wadari, disclosed that all the accused were instigated by Ramzan Dadhiwala and Faludawala Khan to collect together and attack the house of Balkrishna Gosavi Patil. Both Ramzan Dadhiwala and Faludawala Khan are local notorious characters who used to help Shri Javed Khan in his election work. Abdul Ghani, another accused in the case, is another notorious character in the area. The attack resulted in injuries to the wife of Balkrishna Gosavi Patil.

9.33 The attacks on the Hindus in Bainganwadi area appear to have been masterminded by Aslam alias Acchhemiya Akhtar Miya alias Gharya Aslam and Abdul Ghani Kamruddin Mulla alias Kadvekar, two notorious characters of the locality.

9.34 The police station had an officer Police Sub–Inspector Sakharkar on its roles whose father was the Shakha Pramukh of Shivaji Nagar Shakha of Shiv Sena. Though the Senior Police Inspector has asserted that he had no doubt whatsoever that Sakharkar was not in any way influenced by his father’s links with Shiv Sena, such a possibility cannot be ruled out. His posting in Deonar area gave ground for the allegation that Shiv Sena had easy access to the police. There were also complaints against Police Inspector Dhengle, Police Inspector Gajur, Police Inspector Pandit, Police Sub–Inspector Bobade, Police Sub–Inspector Kadam and Police Sub–Inspector Sakharkar that they were communal in their approach.

9.35 Though the testimony of Police Inspector Namdeo Mohan Dhengle indicates that Shri Javed Khan had visited the police station on 9th and 10th December 1992 at which time Deputy Commissioner of Police Y.C. Pawar, Joint Commissioner of Police, R.D.Tyagi, and Additional Commissioner of Police R.S. Pasricha were also present, Dhengle says that he has no idea of what transpired between these senior officers and Shri Javed Khan as he was not present in the room where they had a discussion.

9.36 Sudhir Dattaram Jadhav took charge of Deonar Police Station as Senior Police Inspector on 28th December 1992 and was in-charge of the police station during the January phase of riots.

9.37 In all 28 riot–related cases were registered during January 1993. There were only three cases in which police fired (C.R.Nos.23, 24 and 36 of 1993).

9.38 According to Police Inspector Jadhav the blood pressure of Senior Police Inspector Padwal–Patil went up because of enormous stress and strain and not because of altercation with his seniors on the issue of appeasing the Muslims. Jadhav unhesitatingly states that while working as Senior Police Inspector he found Shri Javed Khan and Shri Jaffer Shariff attempting to interfere with his work. In fact, this straight forward officer promptly put down his observations in his reports dated 18th January 1993, 25th January 1993, 5th June 1993, 19th January 1994 and 27th March 1994 (Ex. 2745-C) He has given in detail the manner in which Shri Javed Khan attempted to pressurize him in his duties and complained to the Commissioner of Police, requesting proper action. The gist of the complaint is that Shri Javed Khan and other ministers were making unscheduled visits to the police station, throwing their weight about to find out details about certain accused arrested by police and rudely ticking off the officers saying that they had arrested innocent persons. Commissioner of Police, S.K. Bapat, accepted that such a complaint had been made to him and said that he had taken up the matter with the then Chief Minister who promised that he will look into the matter, but ultimately nothing ensued.

9.39 Jadhav’s assessment is that by and large Deonar area continued to be peaceful during January 1993 despite riots raging in other parts of the city. The cases registered in 1993 were stray cases of stabbing. Even the news of Radhabai Chawl incident and Mathadi murders did not provoke communal incidents in the area.

9.40 Though it would not be necessary to use graded force in communal riots, he confessed that, considering the large number of police firing deaths which occurred in December 1992, he put his officers and himself under restraint and used graded force which was a decision based on his experience gained during the December 1992 phase of the riots. He claims that he was not influenced by the instructions given in B.C. Message No.414 dated 10th December 1992.

9.41 There was at least one case (C.R.No.23 of 1993) in which the police fortunately took a view that the situation had gone out of control and handed it over to the army. Their judgment appears to have been partly influenced by the fact that the incident of rioting occurred in the hutments of Tata Nagar close to Tata Electric Supply Power Lines.

9.42 The first communal incident in January 1993 took place on 7th January 1993 and is the subject matter of C.R.No.15 of 1993.

9.43 There was an attempted attack on Datta Mandir though the mandir did not sustain any damage (C.R.No.92 of 1993). An attack was mounted by a Hindu mob on Kena Market Masjid in three separate groups (C.R.No.23 of 1993). The FIR in this case exhibits certain peculiarities. The names of the accused written originally appear to have been erased and overwritten by words "1000 Hindu–Muslim mob". Though the police claim that it was a mistake on the part of junior Police Sub–Inspector Tamboli, this became the subject of critical remarks by the Metropolitan Magistrate before whom the case came up and who directed the Commissioner of Police to effect investigations in this regard. Nothing seems to have been done thereafter, not even an explanation was asked for from Tamboli for what appears to be a serious lapse. A scrutiny of the erasures showed that the two names of the accused originally written there were 'Pravin’ and 'Bhima’.

9.44 No sophisticated or foreign weapons were seized from the area either during December 1992 or January 1993.

9.45 Sayyed Ajmat Ali Kudrat Sayyed alias Ramzan Pathan alias Ramzan Dadhiwala was arrested and was in police custody from 4th June 1992 and lodged in the Ghatkopar police station lock up. Shri Javed Khan and Shri Jaffer Shariff appear to have taken an extra–ordinary interest in meeting this person without permission. Further, it appears that prior thereto Ramzan Dadhiwala was with Shri Javed Khan though he was shown as a wanted accused in C.R.Nos.900 and 915 of 1992.

9.46 At least one accused (Salim Rahim Shaikh) in the bomb blasts case was arrested from Bainganwadi area and a 9mm pistol and forty eight rounds were seized from him.

9.47 The police maintain that during December 1992 the maximum rioting and violent incidents were at the instance of Muslims during which there was damage to lives and properties belonging to Hindus. Though in a manner of speaking it appears to be true, the Commission found that in some cases at least the trouble was provoked by Hindus who resorted to stone throwing at the Muslim localities and masjid, after which the situation became a free–for–all with the police intervening.

9.48 Jadhav agreed that as a consequence of December 1992 riots the morale of police went down and secondly, that the police had been restrained from firing while dealing with violent situations upto 8th January 1993 and thirdly, the police made no investigations to trace the source of arms and ammunition supply to the rioters to flush out such arms and ammunition. He also agreed that during January 1993 all attacks took place with the help of dangerous weapons on Hindus.

9.49 Jadhav was at pains to assert that Police Sub–Inspector Sakharkar was an upright officer and that the fact that his father was a Shakha Pramukh in no way affected in discharge of his duties. He also states that he had been instructed to investigate complaints against police officers Dhengle, Gajur, Pandit, Bobade, Kadam, Sakharkar and Padwal–Patil and after investigation he found the complaints were false and baseless. The report made by him has not been produced before the Commission.

9.50 Amongst the public witnesses, most of the Hindu witnesses were from Hanuman Seva Mandal area. They stated that there was attack by Muslims on the Hanuman Seva Mandal Hutments and Hanuman Mandir causing widespread damage.

9.51 Some of the Muslim witnesses examined before the Commission were themselves accused in different cases and perhaps their evidence was an attempt to forestall the criminal case against them. In some other cases witnesses have given evidence about the high–handed manner in which police treated them. For example, Himmat Ali Ashiq Ali (Witness No. 413-BBA) states that on 8th December 1992 at about 1600 hours when he was checking whether his hand–cart parked in front of his house was in proper position, a patrolling police party caught hold of him, pulled him to an isolated area and asked whether he was a Muslim. Though, out of fear he gave his name as Raju, the officer made him take out his trousers and, noticing that he was a circumcised Muslim, asked him to put up his hands and turn around and fired at him. They also beat him with the rifle butts. Luckily for Himmat Ali, the bullets did not kill him though four bullets were fired at him. He also says that police officer who fired at him had a short stature, addressed him in Marathi and abused him as "landya". After he was shot at, he was pulled by his hair and after dumping him into the van and taken to the police station.

This witness is not accused in any of the riot–related cases registered by the Deonar Police Station and this fact is confirmed by the police station. His name also does not figure in the names of the injured persons. No statement of this witness has been recorded by police in any case registered by them. He also says that he had not participated in any riot. He was treated at KEM Hospital and the bullet lodged in his body was removed and given to him which he produced at Ex. 2875–C. The Commission is of the view that this was a case where the police went berserk and fired indiscriminately.

9.52 Witness Kisan Tukaram Rathod from Shastri Nagar Zopadpatti stated that the persons who attacked the mandir were shouting slogan, "Javed Khan Zindabad" and looked like Muslims, as they wore lungies.

9.53 The case of Mohd. Baba Hashmi is another instance of high–handed action on the part of police. He was doing the business of repairing cycles and hiring them out. On 12th December 1992 he was going to Bainganwadi to buy cycle parts and for that purpose he was carrying Rs.7,000 with him. When he was close to the said shop, at about 0800 hours, a police picket accosted him , abused him by calling him ‘landya’ and hammered him with rifle butts. There was a Shiv Sena Shakha situated near the spot where the incident took place. After assaulting him, police signalled the Shiv Sainiks. The Shiv Sainiks came there, assaulted him with chopper and robbed him of his cycle and Rs.7,000. He managed to run away, but fell down and became unconscious. After two hours he regained consciousness, went home and thereafter got himself treated. When he went to his shop he noticed that his cycle shop had also been robbed. The incident took place near Geeta Vikas Mandal Chowky. This witness is also not an accused in any criminal case.

9.54 There is the evidence of Parveen Banu Irshad Ahmed Shaikh (Witness No. 420–C). Her husband works for gain in Saudi Arabia and had come to Bombay to visit his wife who was keeping poor health. On 8th December 1992 in the early hours at 0300 hours the police barged into the house by breaking open the door, caught hold of her husband, bashed him up with rifle butts and dragged him away. The injuries caused by police to Parveen Banu’s husband required his hospitalization for one–and–a–half months and also caused him loss of his job as he could not go back to Saudi Arabia in time. Injuries have also resulted in permanent partial disability as he had to be fitted with an iron rod in his leg to heal the fracture. Neither Parveen Banu, nor her husband Irshad Ahmed, is an accused in any case filed by police. To a pointed query by the Commission for the motive for the assault by police, Parveen Banu had a simple answer and said, "Maybe, the police were getting something out of it, or the police were inimical towards Muslims!!"

9.55 The case of Abdul Kalam Mohd. Ishaq (Witness No. 421-LLAC) also makes sad reading. On 7th December 1992 at about 1100 hours he was inside his house along with one Munna aged 7 years. Three constables in uniform barged into the house carrying rifles, slapped Munna and asked them to run away. Abul Kalam was shot in his leg while he was running. Police caught him by his legs and dragged him for some distance and then dropped him on the road and went away. He is also not an accused in any case.

9.56 Asgar Khan Ashiq Khan’s (Witness No.428-LLAC) is another case of police high-handedness. On 28th December 1992 he was in front of Ram Mandir, Shivaji Nagar, along with his younger brother Zahir Khan. They were stopped by police. While the police allowed some Hindus who had been stopped by them to go, Asgar and Zahir were stopped. The police party assaulted them with lathis and rifle butts. Though the scene was witnessed by police officers sitting on chairs they did nothing. Zahir managed to escape, but Asgar fell down and the police continued to assault him and insult him by calling him ‘landya’. Due to the continuous assault he fell unconscious. When he regained consciousness he found that his wrist watch and wallet containing Rs.5,000 missing. The police threatened him and asked him to run away. When Asgar was going in front of Shiv Sena Shakha, four youngsters with swords pounced on him and asked him to disclose his identity. However, they let him off without trouble. Asgar suffered several injuries due to the assault by police. This is another witness who is not an accused in any criminal case filed by police.

9.57 On 8th December 1992 Maulana Abdul Hannan Ashrafi (Witness No.429–BBA) was sitting inside the Noor–e–Elahi Masjid along with others after the morningnamaaz. He is a teacher in a madrassa in Govandi. At about 1000 hours he heard commotion outside the mosque, peeped out and saw people running helter–skelter and the police were firing. According to him, police set the mosque and several shops on fire. When he along with others attempted to extinguish the fire, policemen entered the mosque and started assaulting them. They were made to come out of the mosque and stand in a single file at the point of gun. Abdul Gaffar, Gen. Secretary of the mosque was shot in the chest and died on the spot. Yakub was shot in the abdominal region and was severely wounded. Hafiz Mohd. Kafil was assaulted and taken away by police and his whereabouts are still not known. This witness is also not an accused in any criminal case.

9.58 Noor–e–Islam Abid Ali Kazi (Witness No.441–BBA) deposed that on 9th December 1992 while he was sleeping in his room the police barged into his room and started assaulting him and his sister who tried to save him. They dragged him and his nephew out of the house, all the while beating him mercilessly, into a lane towards the Shiv Sena Shakha. They also threatened to finish him by taking him to another locality and gave him an option whether he would like to be finished by police or by the Shiv Sainiks. Thereafter, he was dragged near the Shiv Sena Shakha where a Police Inspector was present who asked the policemen as to why he had been brought there. The policemen falsely stated that he had been apprehended from a masjid while he was holding a sword in his hand. The officer thereafter continued to abuse and assault him and abruptly told him to run away. When he started running through a lane they fired at him but missed. At the corner of the lane 10–12 Shiv Sainiks attacked him with swords, hockey sticks, bottles and cycle chains. He fell down unconscious after which the Shiv Sainiks ran away. After he regained consciousness he made his way back to his house.

In his affidavit he has named Police Inspector Nikam and Police Sub–Inspector Sakharkar as the officers who had barged into his house and dragged him. He also alleges that the police and the Shiv Sainiks were co-ordinating their operations within the area as Sakharkar’s father was a local Shiv Sena Shakha Pramukh. According to him Police Sub–Inspector Sakharkar used to stay with his father, very close to his residence and PSI Sakharkar also used to sit in the Shiv Sena Shakhaat Govandi opposite Municipal School. He is well acquainted with Nikam and Sakharkar as they used to take frequent rides in his rickshaw. He has also alleged that PC Shelke was also along with the officers who dragged him out of house and he is well acquainted with them. He has given instances as to how police and Shiv Sainiks used to eat, walk and talk together. The witness was shown police officers Chavan, Dhengle, Pandit and Gajur but stated that none of them was the officer sitting in the Shakhaoffice. He also stated that Dharasingh Garbhari Shelke, PC–24486, shown to him, was not the constable referred to in his affidavit. An interesting development was that after this witness gave his evidence on 9th August 1996 and the hearing was adjourned to 12th August 1996; on 12th August 1996 when the hearing resumed, the witness made a complaint that on the previous day while plying his rickshaw he was stopped at the junction of Eastern Express Highway by two young boys and he was threatened against giving evidence.

9.59 It appears to the Commission that though the witness was clear in his mind about the identity of the officers and constables who had barged into his house, in the interregnum, he appears to have been won over either by threats or inducement with the result he declined to identify the officers and constables whom he had named specifically in his affidavit as having barged into his house and dragged him out of his house. This witness is also not an accused in any criminal case.

9.60 Taking an overall view it appears to the Commission that because two constables were killed by the violent Muslim rioters in this area the police acted in a vengeful manner and behaved in high–handed fashion with several Muslims in the area, who were apparently innocent, on the excuse that they were investigating serious cases of murders. The Commission has deliberately restrained from commenting on the evidence of persons who are themselves accused in cases as it would be within the province of the Criminal Court to deal with the charges against them.

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