Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dharavi Police Station

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

10.1 This is one of the most communally sensitive areas which has seen communal riots between Hindus and Muslims on several previous occasions.

10.2 The jurisdictional area spans 3.5 to 4 sq. kms. across a widespread slum which has the dubious distinction of being the biggest slum in Asia. This slum is dotted with shanties and hovels with no access to air or light, approached only through narrow congested lanes insulating the area from vehicular traffic. The population is about 5.5 lakhs, the bulk of which comprise economically backward sections of society doing manual labour and eking out a living, and petty traders themselves. The area has large pockets of South Indian Muslims and backward Hindus. The Muslim residents in this area are mainly engaged in the work of tanning leather and manufacturing and selling leather goods. There are 28 temples and 35 mosques and madrassas within the jurisdiction of this police station.

10.3 Naiknagar, Socialnagar, Chamda Bazar, Indiranagar, Muslimnagar, Dambar Company are some of the known Muslim pockets in this area, while Kumbharwada, Bhagat Singhnagar, Vijaynagar, Dhobi Ghat, Mukundnagar, Shastrinagar, Dhorwada, Anandnagar, Kamrajnagar, Koliwada, Shahunagar and Laxmibaug are dominated by Hindus, though there are Muslim residents there also. Valmikinagar, Matunganagar Camp and Sidharathnagar are predominantly occupied by Nav Baudhas. There is big mosque by name Badi Masjid situated on the Dharavi Main Road around which there are clusters of Muslim residences, though the area itself is predominantly occupied by Hindus. Similarly, Ashrafi Masjid is situated in Valmikinagar which itself is a Hindu predominant area. Conversely, Murugan Temple, a temple constructed by the South Indian Hindus, is situated in the area predominantly occupied by Muslims.

10.4 The period between July to 4th December 1992 saw a number of activities organized by the local Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena units to propagate the view points of the Hindutvawaadis on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. Both Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena have a visible presence in this area and are quite active. Some other political parties like Congress–I and Republican Party also have small influential pockets within this area. This area saw considerable activity on the part of two Muslim organisations, Tanzeem–Allah–O–Akbar and Dalit Muslim Suraksha Sangh, which organized demonstrations and meetings in the period of run up to the date of Kar Seva. Political campaigning was carried out on the disputed issue by holding processions and meetings. Ram Paduka processions, Ram Paduka Poojan KaryakramChowk Sabhas etc. were carried out in full swing during July 1992 to November 1992.

10.5 Though some of the speeches given by the speakers in a meeting organized on 18th October 1992, prima facie, appear to be communally provocative in their militant exhortation of Hindus that they were insecure at the hands of outsiders (Muslims), the police appear to have condoned it on the ground that there was nothing objectionable in those speeches per se as no problem of law and order entailed. A pamphlet was circulated in Tamil on 12th October 1992 in which it was emphasized that Muslims had an ancestry of invaders who had come to this country with the sole purpose of plundering it and expanding their religious interests. Neither the local police nor the SB–I, CID seems to have taken such things seriously.

10.6 There were meetings held on 21st October 1992 and 1st December 1992 by the Muslims advocating protection of the Babri Masjid and opposing the construction of Ram Mandir at the disputed site at Ayodhya. These meetings were held in Naiknagar on L.B. Shastri Marg. When the contents of these meetings were reported to Assistant Commissioner of Police Sukhtankar, he was provoked to query whether legal action should be taken for the speeches given therein, which he considered prima facie communally inciting. One of the speeches advocated that if the Hindus were to snatch away the Babri Masjid from Muslims, there would be no stopping of disintegration of country; that if Hindus were to build a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya and usher in Ram Rajya, then the Muslims would, through the Babri Masjid Committee, fly the green flag on the Red Fort at Delhi and rule the country. Three activists of Tanzeem–Allah–O–Akbar, which organized some of the meetings, Hayatbhai, Sayyedbhai and Shakoorbhai were quite active during the violent incidents which took place on 7th December 1992. In one of the meetings organized by the Muslims on 15th November 1992, one Maqsood Khan declared that 25 crores of Muslims in India would not remain passive without demanding and getting a partition of the country, as they would not like to remain slaves in this country. Once again, no action ensued, since the police considered that, though objectionable, the speeches were not actionable in law.

10.7 This area had the dubious distinction of housing an illegal crude bomb manufactory. Unfortunately for the miscreants, a minor explosion occurred which was noticed by the residents in the area and reported to the police. The police raided the place and arrested the miscreants red–handed and filed appropriate cases against them, even invoking the provisions of the TADA Act.

10.8 Though, some cases of private firing were alleged in this area, the material on record does not clearly indicate such incidents apart from the fact that witnesses have alleged that they had heard sounds of firing from a particular direction. Fortunately, the police were prompt in this area to take possession of licensed fire–arms during the January 1993 phase of the riots.

10.9 As we come closer to the D–day i.e. 6th December 1992, the Hindutvawaadis led by VHP were getting more and more active and strident in their propaganda. On 28th November 1992, the VHP organized a cycle procession in support of construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya, which the police feel did not add to the communal tension in the area, though the rallyists shouted slogans like, "Hindustan me rahena hoga, Vande Mataram kahena hoga; Vahin banega vahin banega, Ram Mandir, vahin banega"; "Nam Mitao Babarka; Hindustan Hinduonka, nahi kisike baap ka". The explanation of Senior Police Inspector for not considering these slogans as communally inciting, given the background of the impending Kar Seva and the long standing Mandir–Masjid dispute at Ayodhya, is quite ingenuous. The Senior Police Station repeatedly asserted that apart from the cycle rally organized by Shiv Sena on 6th December 1992 no other programme or activity carried out by any other organisation prior to that day or during December 1992 or during January 1993 generated or added the communal tension in this area.

10.10 Both during December 1992 and January 1993, there were a large number of cases where individuals (both Muslims and Hindus) were attacked and stabbed after ascertaining their identity. There were 32 such cases registered in December 1992 and 33 in January 1993. It would appear that 54 cases out of them were classified in "A" summary as the police were not able to get any clues as to the identity of the miscreants. Surprisingly, a number of these stabbing cases occurred during curfew period in shopping areas, but according to the police most of the shops were closed in curfew and there were no witnesses available.

10.11 Apart from these individual cases, there were also cases of rioting and systematic ransacking, looting and destruction of houses registered both in December 1992 and January 1993. In fact, 14 of the rioting incidents were registered on 7th December 1992 itself despite a ban order under Section 37 of the Bombay Police Act having been issued. On 7th December 1992 between 0930 hours to 1600 hours as many as 265 establishments were damaged, out of which 83 belonged to Hindus, 89 to Muslims and four to Christians. In the incident which occurred in Laxmibaug and Socialnagar areas (C.R.No.73 of 1992), the aggregate loss/damage, according to the estimates of the victims, was about Rs.56.85 lakhs of which damage suffered by the Hindus was approximately Rs.16.8 lakhs and the damage suffered by Muslims was about Rs.40 lakhs. In another case registered on the same day, (C.R.No.723 of 1992), 272 establishments suffered damage, out of which 88 belonged to Muslims, 188 to Hindus and two to Christians.

10.12 There were some cases in which the accused admitted that they were connected with a political organisation : C.R. No.720 of 1992 in which the accused were connected with Tanzeem-Allah-O-Akbar; C.R. No.718 of 1992 in which the Hindu accused admitted connection with Shiv Sena and C.R. No.53 of 1993, in which some of the accused admitted connection with Bharatiya Janata Party and RSS. Apart from these, there does not appear to be any effort made by the police to ascertain the organisational connections of the accused arrested in other cases.

10.13 Some of the politically active persons in the area figure in the list of victims or accused. The local Shiv Sena Shakha Pramukh Pawar is accused of having assaulted the complainant along with his associates on 10th December 1992 (C.R.No.752 of 1992). A complaint was made by one M.I. Shinde, the local Municipal Corporator, of an assault on him with lethal weapons (C.R.No.757 of 1992). Because of non–co–operation by the complainant, the police classified the case in ‘A’ summary.

10.14 Analysis of the rioting cases in December 1992 indicates that there was an orchestrated attempt by Muslim youths to enforce a bandh on 6th December 1992. Inept and insensitive handling of the situation by the police initially, and not taking sufficiently deterrent action later, emboldened the Muslim youths to resort to violence like damaging and arson of vehicles on the road and roadside shops. When the police attempted to intervene, the police became targets of attack by the violent mobs of Muslims. In the meanwhile, the Hindus who were incensed with attacks on their temples and establishments, collected in large numbers and started retaliation. At this point of time, the initiative was completely wrested out of the hands of the police and a complete free for all ensued, with each community claiming that it was retaliating for atrocities perpetrated on it. In the bargain, establishments were ransacked, looted and set on fire. Vehicles were smashed up and temples and mosques were attacked and damaged.

Each act of violence led to a chain reaction of further aggression and retaliation, in which the police appeared to be hapless spectators. Despite repeated instructions of the Commissioner of Police that if the situation was out of control, the police should take the active assistance of the army column, and notwithstanding the presence of the army column in close vicinity, the police appeared to have taken no steps to invoke army’s active operational assistance in controlling the situation. The explanation by the Senior Police Inspector is two–fold. First, he claims that in the assessment of himself and his senior officers, the situation was very much within control, second, that if the army had been allowed to handle the situation they would have resorted to indiscriminate firing resulting in larger number of deaths. The former is totally contradicted by the urgent messages transmitted on the wireless which indicate that the local police were appealing to the Control Room that the situation was beyond control; as to the latter, the police by their action, did not produce a smaller number of casualties since the number of deaths during December 1992 and January 1993 was 62 (three by arson, three by mob action, 28 by police firing, 28 in stabbing cases) in which 43 Muslims, 17 Hindus, one other and one unknown person died.

10.15 The very first serious communal incident which occurred on 6th December 1992 in Bombay originated within Dharavi jurisdiction. It is, therefore, worthwhile scrutinizing the events in Dharavi, in greater detail. At about 4 p.m. the Shiv Sena organized a procession to celebrate the successful demolition of Babri Masjid. It consisted of cyclists and pedestrians and started from Dharavi Koliwada and passed through Dharavi Main Road, Jasmine Mill Road, T.H. Kataria Marg, Kumbharwada Junction, 90 feet road, Dharavi Cross Road, Dhorwada Lane, 90 feet road and terminated at Kala Killa, at the junction of Sant Rohidas Marg and 90 feet road. The procession had been organized by the local Shakha of the Shiv Sena and some of its local leaders like Ramkrishna Keni, Baburao Mane, Theresa Killekar, Jagannath Khade, Rajaram Narkar, Vithal Pawar, Ajit Sanghare, Suresh Sawant, Suresh Sonavane, Muthu Thewar, Suryakant Rajguru, Kutti Thevar, Baban Kale, Shekhar, Babu Vaity, Bamaya Gandhi, Shiva Kamati and Kitya Kharande were actively participating in the said procession.

10.16 Though Senior Police Inspector Gharge claimed that an application had been made by the local Shiv Sena Shakha for taking out such a cycle rally and permission therefore had been refused, the version given by Gharge does not appear reliable. An outward register, Exh. 2221–P, produced to corroborate his word, is a patently got up document. Even a cursory look shows that the relevant entry at Sr. No. 16959 is interpolated. All serial numbers in the register on 6th December 1992, from 16952 to 16958, are written in Marathi and in serial order. All particulars for that day appear to have been written. It is only the entry at Sr. No. 16959 which has been interpolated in some space that was available at the bottom of the page and the serial numbers of all the other entries have been subsequently over–written by increasing the number by one. Senior Police Inspector Gharge was unable to produce either the original application made by Shiv Sena for taking out the procession, or the office copy of the letter refusing permission. The only evidence offered by him to substantiate his testimony was the outward register which obviously has been fabricated. Gharge produced a letter dated 28th November 1992 from Mumbai VHP, (Exh. 2219–P), asking for holding a cycle rally on 28th November 1992 at about 1800 hours which was specifically rejected by a letter issued by the Senior Police Inspector on the same day. The inference is two–fold. Either no such application for permission was made by Shiv Sena, or if made, the permission had been granted by the police who are now trying to cover up their lapse.

10.17 The significance of this procession/cycle rally becomes clear when we look at the background against which the rally was taken out and what transpired in the procession and the meeting held at the end of the procession. The entire country was gripped by apprehensions as to what would happen to Babri Masjid at the time of Kar Seva on 6th December 1992. On a previous occasion, during Kar Seva, despite elaborate bandobast, some of the Kar Sevaks were seen to have climbed atop the dome of the Babri Masjid and dancing thereupon. Elaborate precautionary measures were put in force by the police in the city of Bombay in view of the explosive potential of the situation. In the teeth of these, granting permission to hold such a cycle rally or procession, which was ostensibly to celebrate the demolition of the Babri Masjid, would be utter irresponsibility on the part of the police. It is to cover up their Himalayan blunder that the police have concocted the story that an application to hold the cycle rally had been made by Shiv Sena and was rejected by the police. If it was rejected, then there is no explanation why such a cycle rally/procession and the meeting were permitted in blatant defiance. This cycle rally was nothing but an attempt by the Shiv Sena to provoke Muslims by rubbing salt in their wounds by open gloating over what was, from the point of view of the Muslims, an unfortunate and tragic event. The consequences of permitting such a procession ought to have been foreseen by any police officer worth his salt. The police are to be squarely blamed for this unpardonable act. What transpired thereafter bears out this conclusion.

10.18 The processionists in the rally/procession shouted slogans like, "Talwar Nikala Myanse, Mandir Banayenge Shanse", "Kasam Ramki Khate Hain, Mandir Vahin Banayenge", "Hath Main Lungi Muha Main Pan, Bhago Landya Pakistan", "Shiv Sena Zindabad", "Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji" and "Balasaheb Thackeray Zindabad". When the rally was passing from in front of Anjuman Kadria Masjid, Dhorwada, at about the time when Muslims were offering evening namaaz at the said Masjid, someone threw a stone which fell inside the masjid premises. Though the procession was accompanied by several police officers and police constables, no steps were taken to prevent the shouting of provocative slogans or the incident of stone throwing. The procession terminated at Kala Killa and a meeting was held there under aegis of Shiv Sena. That neither the cycle rally nor the meeting was held on the spur of the moment, is clear from the fact that a big stage had been prepared at Kala Killa where the meeting was to be held. The meeting was addressed by several local leaders of Shiv Sena and, considering the situation which then existed, the speeches were not only likely, but intended to provoke Muslims by heaping insult upon injury.

In fact, it is the assessment of the police themselves that the procession/rally and the meeting held thereafter caused subsequent communal riots which broke out in Dharavi. A special report of the incident was called by the State of Maharashtra. Two such reports were made to the Additional Chief Secretary, Home (Special), by the Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone VIII, one on 24th June 1993 and the other on November 20,1993. In his report, the Deputy Commissioner of Police says, "when the procession was coming near the Kadria Masjid, some of the people in the procession threw stones at the masjid and gave provocative slogans because of which tension was created between the Hindus and Muslims. The processionists were giving (Sic) "extremely provocative slogans as a result of which communal feelings were hurt and a situation was created with a possibility of breaking out of communal riots". By his second letter dated 20th November 1993, the Deputy Commissioner of Police reiterated what was stated in his previous letter. By a letter dated 1st April 1993, Exh. 2090–C, addressed to the Public Prosecutor, in connection with instructions for opposing the anticipatory bail application of the accused, the investigating officer, Assistant Police Inspector Khan, stated that investigations of this case brought to light that after the cycle rally the accused had held a "public meeting with the permission of the authority" in which they gave inflammatory speeches against the Muslim community with the result that on 7th December 1992 the communal riots broke out. This letter also suggests that the very persons who were accused in the offence registered in connection with incident (C.R.No.718 of 1992) were also the members of the Peace Committee meeting.

10.19 The next communal incident was the one in which One Mohd. Moosa Abdul Shaikh was found killed with stab wounds near Mahim Level Crossing (C.R.No.719 of 1992).

10.20 What happened on 7th December 1992 is equally distressing. At about 0907 hours a procession was taken out by Muslims from Shahu Nagar which wended its ward through different areas, passed through Matunga Labour Camp and gathered near Bismillah Hotel Junction. The purpose for which this procession was taken out appears to have been peaceful to start with. Even the police records of the concerned case (C.R.No.720 of 1992) show that the initial intention of the Muslim processionists, was to protest against the demolition of the Babri Masjid and to carry out Rasta Roko. What transpired there, which converted the peaceful procession of the angry Muslims into a rampaging mob is another story. A reading of the FIR and the statements recorded in C.R.No.720 of 1992 suggests that the crowd gathered at Bismillah junction suddenly went out of control of its leaders and indulged in violent activities. There appears to be more than what meets the eye. According to the statements of the police constables recorded in the case, a crowd of Muslims led by Hayatbhai, Shakurbhai and Sayyedbhai comprising 150–200 persons came to Koliwada junction, opposite Bismillah Hotel and was doing Rasta Roko. Assistant Commissioner of Police Sukhtankar and Senior Police Inspector Gharge were persuading Hayatbhai, leader of Tanzeem-Alla-ho-Akbar, to disperse the morcha. The people in the morcha were shouting slogans, "Masjid Vahin Banayenge".

In the meanwhile, Sukhtankar got a wireless message that he was needed near Murugam Mandir where there was a serious trouble. When he attempted to leave the place, his car was stopped by the processionists. Suddenly, people in the crowd started throwing stones, brickbats, soda–water bottles and fire balls at the police. Thereafter, the crowd moved about smashing the vehicles parked on the road and attacked the police with soda–water bottles and stones and the police had to fire to disperse the mob. It is also claimed by the police that during the melee one of the processionists attacked Police Inspector Kadam with a sword. Statements of the police uniformly suggest that the crowd, which was initially peaceful, suddenly turned violent and started attacking all those in the vicinity around and the houses along the 60 feet road. The reason why the crowd which was initially peaceful turned violent can be discerned from some of the statements of some of the witnesses recorded in this case. Abdul Majid Abdul Haleem states that the local Muslim leaders had organized a procession near Bismillah junction on 60 feet road and he was a part of that. At about 0900 hours some people from Koliwada started throwing stones at the processionists.

This angered the processionists who retaliated, despite attempts on the part of the police to control them. Then came a lathi charge by police, which in turn caused the processionists to attack the police. It is obvious that once the processionists were provoked by stone throwing from Koliwada, the people in the procession went berserk and started throwing stones indiscriminately at the people (Hindus) in Koliwada. The police then provoked the Hindu residents to stone throwing. This is vindicated by the statements of Albert Gomes and Sayed Jamal. Thereafter the situation went beyond control and mobs of both the communities started attacking each other and the police. The interrogatory statement (Exh. 2108–C) of Mohammed Hayat Saleh Mohammed also suggests that the procession which was brought by him and other Muslim leaders for demonstration and Rasta Roko became violent somewhere along the line as the leaders could not control it. That the procession was intended to be peaceful is also seen from the fact that about 15/20 women from the Muslim Nagar zopadpattis joined the procession and were protesting against the demolition of the Babri Masjid. They were abusing police officers for having failed to protect the Babri Masjid. So is the statement of Madhav Nathu Ahire (Exh.2109–C) who is a Police Constable. In fact, Ahire states that when he asked the processionists as to why they had congregated, he was informed that the morcha had been taken out to protest against the demolition of Babri Masjid. Once the trouble started, it overtook every one and then it became a clash between the Hindus and Muslims residents of Dharavi. The Muslims rushed into Kumbharwada and smashed up the earthen pots. The residents of Kumbharwada rushed out and attempted to damage the masjid behind the Dharavi Police Station. The police instead of controlling the riots were caught between the two violent mobs and appeared to have panicked, opened fire, not for controlling the mobs, but more as an instinctive reaction. The witnesses whose statements have been recorded by the police have repeatedly stated that the police were chasing the crowds when suddenly they started firing. The police lost the initiative and riots broke out all over the jurisdictional area of Dharavi.

10.21 This police station has registered in all 59 cases in respect of the incidents which took place in December 1992. Out of these 59 cases, though the demonstration on 7th December 1992 appears to have been organized by Muslim organisation viz. Tanzeem–Allah–o–Akbar, there is nothing to indicate that it was intended to be a violent demonstration or that there was any design to indulge in violent activities. In fact, Senior Police Inspector Gharge in his evidence has stated that he was not even aware of the existence of the organisation called Tanzeem-Allah-o-Akbar prior to 7th December 1992. It is also admitted by Gharge that, in the cases which had occurred in Kumbharwada, the miscreants were incited by their leaders. Four temples were demolished and two temples were slightly damaged while one madrassa was set on fire and four masjids were attacked and some shops adjacent to the masjids were damaged.

10.22 Senior Police Inspector Gharge says that, because nobody from the Muslim community had complained against the slogans shouted by Hindus, he did not consider the slogans to be provocative. Gharge admitted that ban order under Section 37 of the Bombay Police Act was promulgated and had became effective from 2200 hours and that his Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sukhtankar, had instructed him to refuse permission to the cycle rally as there was possibility of break down of law–and–order. That the police did not expect any reaction from the Hindus in the area to the demolition of the Babri Masjid or to the protest to the demolition of the Babri Masjid, is falsified by Senior Police Inspector Gharge when he candidly admitted that the cycle rally and meeting organized by Shiv Sena on 6th December 1992 had the potentiality to add to the communal tension. It was clear that a stone had been thrown at the masjid with the intention of hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims. Sections 153A and 153B were invoked and the Government was moved for sanctioning prosecution under these sections. The Government does not appear to have granted the sanctions at all, for reasons which are difficult to fathom. The accused in C.R. No.718 of 1992 were all local Shiv Sena leaders, but they were not arrested as the police were of the view that their arrests might give rise to more trouble.

10.23 It will appear that the police were more afraid of the consequences ensuing from the arrests of local Shiv Sena leaders than the consequences of letting them loose in the area. For example, in C.R.No.752 of 1992, the offence was registered on 10th December 1992, the date on which the offence was committed. Though the informant had clearly identified the accused, including Suryakant Pawar, as his assailants, Pawar was not arrested. The explanation for not immediately arresting him was that the accused was ‘not available’ till 26th December 1992. On the candid admission of Gharge, the entire area of Dharavi was under curfew when large number of incidents of looting and ransacking were going on. Considering the number of incidents which took place, and the duration for which they took place, even when the curfew order was effective, the situation had completely gone out of the hands of the police. Yet, the army column was called only to do flag marching from 11th December 1992. In fact, Gharge summed up by saying that with the manpower and the machinery available with him, there was no better way in which he could have enforced the curfew or prevented the numerous incidents which took place during the period.

Surprisingly, when the Commissioner of Police sought information from the Assistant Commissioner of Police whether the curfew was being imposed effectively, the answer given was, "curfew is being implemented effectively. We have absolutely men–free roads except in some lanes", with the Commissioner of Police reiterating "even in small lanes ensure that there is no collection of people; otherwise there will be some false..." (See Transcript of Control Room Cassette No.25/A dated 9th January 1993, page 16). Apparently, the Commissioner of Police was lulled into false security because of such false assurances from the local police officers, though deep down they knew that they were unable to implement the curfew order effectively.

10.24 During January 1993 the situation was somewhat different. In fact, Senior Police Inspector Gharge admitted that the facts of C.R.No.28 of 1993 showed that the police appeared to be chasing the miscreants from one scene to another and there was no instance of the police intercepting the miscreants and preventing occurrence of offence. He also stated that, considering the circumstances which prevailed during the material time, it was virtually impossible to anticipate and prevent occurrences of offence in the jurisdictional area. The main reasons given were : (1) inadequate man–power and (2) insufficient means of communication. According to Gharge, though the police could see the miscreants congregating and indulging in some kind of offence at a distance, the police had only two options, either to fire at them from long distance, which would prove useless and counter–productive, or to run after the miscreants, inevitably being unable to apprehend them.

10.25 Another peculiar feature of the cases registered in January 1993 was that most of the cases were classified as "A" summary despite the fact that the accused were correctly described, identified and even when their addresses were given. The standard answer given by Gharge was that the accused were `not traceable’. At no point of time was any situation handed over to the army column for controlling. In fact, the army column No.3 had been stationed in the Drive–in–theatre which is very close–by to the Dharavi jurisdictional area so that it could be requisitioned at short notice. Explanation given by Gharge is that if the situation had been handed over to the army they would have resorted to indiscriminate firing! When the police did take effective action in Dharavi area during January 1993, the Hindus, spearheaded by Shiv Sena, set up a cry that Additional Commissioner of Police, A.A. Khan, was responsible for indiscriminate firing resulting in the killing of only Hindus. A protest morcha was taken to the police station with demonstrators shouting, "Khan ko Hata Do".

10.26 Senior Police Inspector Gharge admitted that a crowd of about 3500–4000 Hindus had gathered at Saibaba Mandir and that he knew some of them. According to him, the mob gathered was so big that it was not possible to identify the people and during the subsequent investigation the police got information about the people who were at the front of the mob. Gharge claimed without batting an eye lid that he had no knowledge whatsoever of the persons who had organized the Ghantanaadprogramme on 8th January 1993, though he admitted that the same persons who had organized Ghantanaad programme were the persons who had spearheaded the protest morcha. Krishna Shamrao Patil, a witness, in his statement recorded in C.R.No.41 of 1993 on 31st July 1993 clearly identified Pratap Ramchandra Arekar as the local leader of Bharatiya Janata Party who had organized the Ghantanaad programme on behalf of VHP and had incited the Hindus to rioting on 8th January 1993 on the 90–feet road, DOC Chawl, and that he was the same person who was giving anti Muslim slogans and had participated in the morcha. This Patil is a Police Constable attached to Dharavi Police Station.

Another witness, Nardabegam Sharafatali Shaikh, identified Govardhan Keshav Chavan as an activist of Bharatiya Janata Party who was inciting the people to riot on 8th January 1993. Abdul Gani Yusuf Khan also identified one videowala as the person who was instigating the mob to break down his house on 8th January 1993. But, according to Gharge, there is no videowala by name ‘Kona’ but there was a videowala by name ‘Hona’. However, he was not brought in for identification and before Gharge could bring the said person for questioning and having him identified by Abdul Gani, Abdul Gani had gone to his native place and died there. Atikur Rehman Mirza Bashir Ahmed Saifi, in his statement dated 19th January 1993 described the attack on his house stating that the mob was carrying deadly missiles and weapons, that Raju Kunchikurve, Arekar and Ganesh Marwadi were instigating the mob to indulge in rioting and that they were the same persons who had attacked and ransacked his house. Again, the bland answer was that these accused named by the witness could not be arrested as they were absconding.

10.27 The explanation that the protesters on 8th January 1993 were demonstrating against the incident of Radhabai Chawl, Jogeshwari incident also appears to be unbelievable, as while giving the details of the discussions with Gharge and the Assistant Commissioner of Police had with the demonstrator, there was no mention made of Radhabai Chawl incident at all. The only explanation being, "he forgot to do so."

10.28 The lack of communication of vital facts to the police officers is brought out in Gharge’s admission that he learnt about the demolition of the Babri Masjid only at about 1900/1915 hours when the Shiv Sena held a meeting at Kala Killa. The Dharavi Police Station officers appeared to be woefully ignorant of Muslim organisations in their area. In fact, it is surprising that Senior Police Inspector Gharge came to know about the activities of Tanzeem–Allah–O–Akbar only on 6th December 1992 when he spoke to one of its activists, Hayatbhai, near Bismillah junction. Either the intelligence machinery operated ineffectively, or the relevant signals were suppressed. One reason given for ignorance in this behalf is that there was no person on the staff of Dharavi Police Station who could read and write Urdu —a convenient but lame excuse. Though the Senior Police Inspector Gharge was quick to admit the suggestions of Shiv Sena that all the incidents which are the subject matter of C.R.Nos.720, 721, 725, 728, 729, 730, 732, 834, 739, 746 and 767 of 1992, were started by Muslims, he later on changed his stand and maintained that it was not possible to say that in all the cases Muslims were the aggressors or that the Muslim mobs came on the road only to defend themselves. He said, "in some cases Hindus were also the aggressors."

10.29 It appears to the Commission that not only were the police unable to prevent the situation from deteriorating into a full–scale violence riot, but post–facto investigations of the offences registered were also very unsatisfactory and perfunctory. Though under the Code of Criminal Procedure the police have no power to stop investigations into an offence by classifying it in "A" summary, the police seem to have done it liberally, even when witness after witness kept naming the accused and virtually giving addresses of the accused, perhaps with a view to avoid serious investigations. The Commission has, however, noticed that when it came to classification of cases in "A" summary the police here were even–handed. Cases where the Muslims were accused or Hindus were accused were given the same "A" summary treatment.

10.30 Vithal Pawar, Shakha Pramukh of Shiv Sena Shakha No.87 had addressed a letter dated 31st December 1992 to the Senior Police Inspector naming Fajju, Parvesh, Salim, Akram, Hanif, Mustaq and Nisam as the Muslim goondas who had ransacked and looted his house on 7th December 1992. Surprisingly, that letter was not found in the case papers of the concerned case (C.R.No.723 of 1992), nor is there any reference to it in the crime reports written by the investigating officer. The Senior Police Inspector Gharge said that the said letter had not been brought to his notice by anybody and that he was seeing the letter for the first time while giving evidence — a very sad state of affairs. The result, the case was classified as "A" summary.

10.31 Another controversy raised is about the failure of the police to carry out combing operations. Some of the accused in C.R.No.40 of 1993 were arrested and provisions of TADA Act were applied as the accused were found involved in the activity of making crude bombs. A case under the Arms Act was also registered vide LAC No.882 of 1993. The explanation given for not carrying out combing operations immediately on arrest of the accused is that it was not possible to carry out the combing operations since the riots had broken out, and, after the riots were over, carrying out of such operations was fruitless. If at all any arms and ammunition were recovered, the recovery appears to be fortuitous.

10.32 Gharge agreed with the suggestion of the Shiv Sena that in 1992 the trouble started because of the Muslims but he said that it was not possible for him to say so with regard to the January 1993 phase of the riots, as stone throwing instances first started in Muslim Nagar and Indira Nagar and there was no way of finding out who started the stone throwing first. Gharge was made to admit that, between 1st January to 4th January 1993, in all 14 communal incidents took place and all of them had taken place prior to the murder of Mathadi workers at Dongri and Radhabai Chawl incident. To a query from the Commission, Gharge admitted that against the back–drop of the demolition of the Babri Masjid it was possible that the provocative slogans given by the cycle rally processionists might have angered the Muslims and provoked them as the Muslims were residing along the road taken by the cycle rally. Though Gharge denied the suggestion that the Muslims were demonstrating peacefully at Kumbharwada junction till they were provoked by the stone throwing by Hindus, the circumstantial evidence appears to be otherwise.

10.33 Though the version of the incident in C.R.No.720 of 1992 given by Gharge suggested that the trouble was all started by the Muslims, he admitted under cross–examination that there was stone throwing from the building occupied predominantly by Hindus and that incident took place only after the Hindu mob had come on the scene. He also had to admit that in the affidavit of Bane, PC–19119, the version given was that there was a Hindu mob and that both the mobs were pelting stones at each other. Gharge back–tracked and said that, once the rioting erupted, it was impossible to make out who the miscreants were.

10.34 On 7th December 1992 one Mahrut Ali Siddiqui of Madrassa Talim-ul-Quran Sunni Jamaat-ul-Muslimeen, addressed a letter to the Dharavi Police giving information that some mischievous elements had caused damage to the masjid and that adequate security arrangements be made. Prophetically, on 8th December 1992 there was an attempted arson of the masjid and shops adjacent to the masjid were set on fire; the fire caused some damage to the masjid also (C.R.No.742 of 1992).

10.35 On 10th December 1992 at about 0730 hours an attack was made on Madina Masjid by throwing stones, brickbats and fire–balls (C.R.No.748 of 1992).

10.36 Out of the total number of 54 incidents of assaults on individuals, during the December 1992 and January 1993 phases of riots, in 42 cases (24 in December 1992 and 18 in January 1993) the victims were Muslims.

10.37 The evidence of Yeshwant Dada Hire (Witness No.337) indicates that the assault on the police in Naiknagar by the Muslim mob was because the police picket consisting of two traffic constables was attempting to prevent a mob of about 3,000 riotous Muslims from demolishing the Shiv Mandir. In fact, according to Hire, he and others diplomatically saved the constables from serious consequences by taking them aside. Hire has named eleven of the miscreants as Hanubhai, Ikrarbhai, Nizambhai, Babarbhai, Sattarbhai son of Bhanu, Yakub, Munna, Matabhai, Ansar Driver and Momahadbhai, all residents of Naiknagar and its vicinity. He has also identified one Kasam another resident of Naiknagar. His statement was recorded by the police in C.R. No.729 of 1992 [Exh.2231(P)]. According to Hire, during the course of his statement to the police, he had given the names of the 11 miscreants to the police. Surprisingly, this statement of the witness recorded by the police in the case (C.R. No.729 of 1992) does not give the names of any of the miscreants and the case has been closed by classifying it in "A" summary.

10.38 Safiq–ul–Hasan alias Safiq Khan was carrying on business of ready made garments on the premises opposite Madina Masjid, near Tata Power House. On 8th December 1992 his house and business premises, which were in the same building, were attacked by a Hindu mob consisting of youngsters in the age range of 18 to 20 years. He identified Ashok Daruwala, Ganesh, Vijay, Balu, Atul, Suresh, Mahendra, Anand, Sunil, Sanjay and Tankya from amongst the miscreants and asserts that they were all Shiv Sainiks from the local Shiv Sena shakha. According to him, the mob of Shiv Sainiks forced him to shout "Jai Shri Ram" or else go to "Pakistan or Kabrastan". They also shouted that his property would be converted into Shiv Sena office. Shafiq Khan ran away from there to save his life and subsequently found that his premises was converted into a Shiv Sena office with the Shiv Sena flag flying atop and Ashok Daruwala being in charge. He made written complaints to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Rakesh Maria and to the Commissioner of Police. Both the complaints are acknowledged by the respective offices. He also received a reply from Dharavi Police station dated 12th March 1993 asking him to visit the police station and meet Police Sub–Inspector Vasant Sonawane between 0830 to 1200 hours or between 1700 to 2100 hours on any working day in connection with the complaint made against Ashok Daruwala and others.

The witness asserts that though he attended the police station on several occasions, nobody took interest in the matter and the local hoodlums continued to occupy his premises till he personally complained to Deputy Commissioner of Police, Pande, sometime in the month of Ramzan. Immediately, Deputy Commissioner of Police Pande raided the illegal activity carried out by Ashok Daruwala and got his premises vacated and possession of the premises was handed over to Shafiq Khan. Apart from suggesting that the story of the witness meeting Deputy Commissioner of Police Pande did not have any supporting documentary evidence, nothing else appears in the cross–examination. It is obvious to the Commission that the police at the lower lever were under the strong influence of Shiv Sena hoodlums and there was at least one straight forward officer who promptly responded to the complaint and took quick and decisive action.

10.39 Gandhi Ganapati Pillai, an active worker of Communist Party of India (Marxist), told the Commission that he and his party believed in secularism and was opposed to religious fundamentalism preached by Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena. And, for the said reason, also opposed to Muslim fundamentalists parties. He was a witness to the incident of the cycle rally taken out by the Shiv Sena and the inflammatory slogans "Hindustan me rahana hoga to Hindu banke rahana hoga" shouted by the rallyist. He also witnessed the attempts by Muslim boys who forced a bandh of the shops near Dharavi Main Road Masjid, Shafiq Building and Navgiri Apartment at about 0730 hours on 7th December 1992. According to him, two or three utensil shops owned by Hindus in that area did not close down, which resulted in an altercation between the owners and the boys which led to the boys turning violent by throwing the utensils and articles from the shops on to the street and finally the owners relenting and closing down the shops. He also says that at about 0830 hours a mob of Hindu miscreants started looting and burning shops owned by Muslims in the Dharavi Koliwada area. He saw a stove repairing shop, a garment store, a grain store and a leather shop, all owned by Muslims, being looted and burnt down by the Hindu miscreants. He also says that, opposite the main masjid, one jewellery shop, medical stores, milk shop and pan bidi shop were also looted and burnt by Muslim miscreants, while a scooter parked outside Irani hotel at Dharavi naka was set on fire. It is his sad experience that when he telephoned to Dharavi police station, no help was forthcoming. There was also an attack by Muslim boys on the CPI(M) party office at Vikewadi. He repeatedly telephoned to the police station and asked for help, but the answer given to him was that there were hardly any people in the police station and hence they could not help.

10.40 Masood Ibrahim Kazi, a registered Government Contractor and a social worker, is a resident of Dharavi. According to him, he was the first Muslim member of Shiv Sena and was at some time Shakha Pramukh at Ratnagiri till he moved to Bombay. He knows a number of Shiv Sainiks of the local area. On 7th December 1992 after the tension had spread in the area, his Hindu neighbour, Smt. Budhiman, requested help to fetch back her children who had gone to school in Mahim. Maqsood went to Mahim and brought back the children. While they were walking through Shahunagar at about 1030 hours a mob of 12 persons surrounded him, pulled him aside and started assaulting him with hockey sticks and iron bars till he fell down bleeding profusely. According to Maqsood, most of the persons who participated in the assault were known to him since they were Shiv Sainiks attached to Dharavi shakha. He specifically identified Sunil Kore, Baban Narailwala and Pratap Kore by name and said that they were all from Shahunagar area. He says that Pratap Kore had contested the municipal election as a candidate of Shiv Sena and he had helped him by donating money and giving him a motor–car for use and claimed that he was well acquainted with Sunil and his brother Pratap Kore. Surprisingly, there is hardly any challenge to the testimony of this witness.

10.41 Mohamad Hussain Sattar Dayakar and his brothers, Iqbal and Rahim, owned fire–wood godowns in Rajabali Chawl compound on Dharavi Link Road. According to him, his godown used to contain 3 to 3.5 lakhs of fire–wood at any given time. On 7th December 1992 at about 0500 hours, his godown was set on fire by a mob of 20–30 persons, out of whom his servant on the spot could recognize Joseph, Cyril and Rahi as local Kolis. Before the godown could be totally gutted, the fire was brought under control and extinguished. Again, on 8th December 1992 at about 0900 hours his godown was set on fire and a report was received by the witness on telephone. Since the situation all around was dangerous for him, he followed a military truck on his scooter and came near the godown. There he noticed that the godown was on fire and some of the boys were standing around the godown. At that spot he met Inspector of Police Khan of Traffic Branch and requested for help. Inspector Khan told him that he could not leave his station. Repeated telephone calls to the police station also produced no results as the police told him that they were on bandobust duty and he should telephone the fire control room. Urgent requests to the fire control room produced the reply that their priority was extinguishing fires in residential premises, after which only they could attend the fire to commercial premises. At about 1100 hours a tempo belonging to Dayakar, laden with firewood and being driven by his employee Abdul, on its way to the godown, was waylaid on the highway and Abdul was chased. All three brothers, whose godowns were situated in close proximity, suffered the same fate. The police were most uncooperative and were ever ready to put forward excuses for inaction.

10.42 Once again, on 6th January 1993, while the witness, his three brothers and two/three workers were inside the godown, about 30-35 people attacked the godown. Being wiser by his previous experience, the witness and his men quietly withdrew from the scene and did not turn up at the place for about 10-15 days. After 15 days they visited the spot and found that the godown was burnt, ransacked and looted of whatever useful articles it contained. Inquiries with the police, elicited the reply that the local Koli boys were the miscreants. The witness had a serious grievance against Police Sub–Inspector Sonawane of the police station to whom the complaint was made. He says that despite recording his complaint, the said officer did nothing in the matter till or about 18th April 1993 when C.R. No.741 of 1992 was registered.

10.43 Mohamad Sajid Quereshi was sitting in his brother’s house and watching television with his family when they were disturbed by smoke drifting in. When they came out they saw that an adjacent shop, ‘Radio and Tape Service’, belonging to his Muslim friend, Farid, was about to catch fire from the fire burning in an Ambassador car which was in front of the said shop. Mohamad and his family members started running around to douse the fire. In the meanwhile, police officer Sub–Inspector Kulkarni came there and started firing without any warning. Mohamad started running away due to fright. Senior Police Inspector Gharge and his party which had arrived by a jeep started firing from the opposite direction and, in the bargain, Mohamad was hit in the chest by a bullet. He does not claim that he had been deliberately fired upon, but it appears to the Commission that the firing was somewhat random, being a knee–jerk reaction. Without ascertaining whether Mohamad and his family members were really culprits running away after setting fire to the shop of Farid, or whether they were themselves victims of the incident, the police officers just fired on the people whom they saw running away though they were unarmed.

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