Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dongri Police Station

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

11.1 Dongri is a predominantly Muslim area with a history of being communally hyper–sensitive. It is also the haunt of several illegal activities like drug–peddling. According to Senior Police Inspector Chandrakant Prataprao Bagwe (Witness No.193), the communal peace in this jurisdictional area is so fragile that any incident happening elsewhere, or even a minor incident within the area, results in disruption of communal peace and creates problems of law and order. Bhiwandi riots in 1984 had resulted in 34 incidents of stabbing from 19th May 1984 to 3rd June 1984. This area also saw riots in 1987 on the issue of protest against the book Satanic Versesby Salman Rushdie. Even non–communal incidents like missing of Hazratbal in Kashmir, Kuwait war, or minor traffic accidents, have had their repercussions on the law and order situation in this area.

11.2 The man–power available in this police station was less by about 20% to handle even the day–to–day working of the police station. The arms, ammunition and equipment available in the police station was inadequate by at least 50% to handle even normal situations. The largest number of weapons that the police station had were of .410 muskets, which are hopelessly outmoded. The police station had only five .303 rifles, apart from revolvers and a 9 mm. carbine.

11.3 Notorious underworld figures like Dawood Ibrahim, Salim Talwar, Lambu Shakil and Karim Lala carried on their nefarious operations within this jurisdictional area. Previous communal troubles were caused by Raza Academy, Students Islamic movement of India (SIMI) and Jamaat–E-–Islam–E–Hind.

11.4 There are a few Hindu pockets within this area like Umarkhadi, Keshavji Naik Marg and Nowrojee Hill Road No.9.

11.5 According to the police, the area has a large number of unemployed, uneducated and ill–informed youth who provide fertile ground for hostile propaganda.

11.6 The campaign of demolition of illegal and unauthorized structures carried out by the BMC officers angered a number of underworld figures who owned such structures.

11.7 Despite the known communal history of the area, and its hyper–sensitivity, activities in support of the Kar Seva and construction of Ram Mandir were freely permitted by the police on the facile excuse that they were religious activities. The period from October to the end of November 1992 saw a well–orchestrated campaign in favour of construction of Ram Mandir and Kar Seva, in this area. These activities were carried out by VHP and Bajrang Dal.

11.8 On 30th November 1992, G.R. Khairnar, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, demolished certain unauthorized stalls in this area. There was an allegation that certain Muslim religious objects and a copy of Holy Quran were desecrated during the demolitions. Khairnar, of course, denied the allegation. It is his version that after the stalls were demolished some of the stall holders and interested local political leaders placed a copy of Holy Quran on top of the debris and took photographs and howled protests that there was insult to Islam. The police, of course, have not registered any offence under section 153A. The Additional Municipal Commissioner held an inquiry as a result of which he was satisfied that there was no truth in the allegation of insult to Holy Quran or religious objects of Muslims. The evidence on record also does not satisfy the Commission that the allegation is true. The over–zealous and vigorous demolition campaign carried out by G.R. Khairnar, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, must have angered the stall holders, who saw in it a threat to their livelihood and some interested people raised the bogie of insult to Islam. The fragileness of the peace in this area can be seen from the instantaneous stopping of traffic and stoning by misguided mobs, which resulted in lathi charge by police. One police officer, four constables and a person from the mob, were injured. Seven BEST Buses and two vehicles of the BMC were damaged.

11.9 When the trouble started on 6th December 1992, the members of the Peace Committees were not seen anywhere except when they came to the police to secure curfew passes for themselves, their relatives and friends.

11.10 No attention seems to have been paid to the closed–door meeting held by the Bombay Muslim Action committee on 2nd December 1992 at Madanpura. The only information that the police were able to get was that in the meeting it was decided to hoist black flags on Muslims establishments in the Muslim areas. Apparently, the police did not consider it serious. No follow–up action seems to have been taken in this connection.

11.11 Though an order under Section 37 of the Bombay Police Act was in operation, the police did not enforce the order strictly. Even on 5th December 1992, there was achowk sabha held by VHP. In the assessment of the Senior Police Inspector, in the city of Bombay it is difficult to strictly enforce the ban order, though it was possible to stop the chowk sabha. Finally, he did not see that the chowk sabhas could create any serious law and order situation though the organizers of the chowk sabhas moved in taxis in Ganesh Chowk, Advocate Anandrao Surve Marg, Nowroji Hill Road No.7, Dr. Meshri Road and near the Sandhurst Bridge area. These are the very areas which saw serious rioting incidents during December 1992 and January 1993.

11.12 A Lalkar Ghantanaad Karyakram on 6th December 1992 organized by the VHP, admittedly to focus attention on Kar Seva at Ayodhya on that day, was not dispersed because the Senior Police Inspector thought that it was a religious assembly exempted from the ban order.

11.13 The first communal incident which took place in this area occurred on 6th December 1992 at about 2345 hours, opposite the Murgi Mohalla Masjid on Memonwada Road. Though there is no wireless communication with regard to the incident, the police have registered an offence vide C.R. No.492 of 1992 of Dongri. According to the Senior Police Inspector, the incident was accidentally witnessed by him while proceeding from Bhendi Bazar junction to Char Nal junction. He saw that some stone throwing was going on. Assistant Commissioner of Police Zende also came there and a mild lathi charge took place, without resulting in any major injuries.

11.14 During the riot periods there was damage to 231 properties of Muslims, 84 of Hindus, two of Christians and one of a Jew. There were 33 deaths due to stabbing, out of which 23 were of Hindus and 10 were of Muslims. There were 55 cases of injuries due to stabbing, out of which 44 victims were Hindus and 11 were Muslims. There were 41 cases of deaths in police firing incidents, out of which four were of Hindus and 37 were of Muslims. Out of the 52 persons injured in police firing, 10 were Hindus and 42 were Muslims. In addition, according to the police, two Hindus died and one Muslim was injured in private firing. The Shaneshwar temple was attacked and damaged on 7th December 1992.

11.15 During December 1992, most of the Hindu establishments on Zakaria Street, Char Nal road, SVP road and Ibrahim Merchant Road were selectively attacked and looted, presumably, by Muslims.

11.16 One Mathadi worker, Balu Bhau Bhosale, was murdered on 26th December 1992. The investigations did not indicate any motive for killing, at the material time. Later it has been established that the accused, a Muslim, admitted that he was a chronic alcoholic and had committed the murder under the influence of alcohol. Though there was no communal motive for the murder, Hindu organisations and newspapers supporting them, imputed communal motives to this murder and stepped up propaganda along communal lines.

11.17 News about isolated incidents of stabbing on 6th January 1993 resulting in the killing of 12 Hindus and injuries to 20 Hindus, coupled with the news about the Radhabai Chawl incident gave rise to a spate of stabbings in which Muslims were victims. The Hindu victims appeared to have been stabbed with an intention to kill, presumably by professional killers, but the Muslim victims did not bear injuries which would indicate such an intention or attempt.

11.18 According to the Senior Police Inspector, these cases generated a Hindu backlash against the Muslims, in the predominantly Hindu areas. He admitted that each Hindu in the area did not simultaneously decide to take revenge, but ‘bad elements’ were responsible to give a direction to Hindu backlash. He maintained that those ‘bad elements’ were independent elements and that there was no connection, direction, nor communication to carry out their nefarious design. Says the Senior Police Inspector, "My feeling is that each of the individuals must have, at about the same time, thought of expressing his anger by stabbing a person of Muslim community". A statement which strains the credulity of the Commission. The Commission has noticed that the police were at pains to impress upon it that the Hindu backlash was so spontaneous that each individual Hindu was simultaneously struck by the thought of revenge!

11.19 Despite maintaining that the thought of taking revenge had occurred to individual Hindus simultaneously, the Senior Police Inspector did concede that there were news reports in Saamna and Navaakal highlighting the atrocities on Hindus by the Muslims during December 1992 and January 1993. To a pointed question as to whether the investigations by the police indicated that the attacks on Muslims were sporadic individual acts, or were organized attacks, the Senior Police Inspector blandly said that the investigations in that directions were going on and no results had yet been achieved. However, despite the fact that stabbing incidents started soon after the demolition of Babri Masjid, and there was a discernible pattern in communal riots during December 1992 and January 1993, the Senior Police Inspector said that he was equally unable to say whether there were any organized attacks by the Muslims on the Hindus during the said period. The evidence before the Commission indicates that as a result of the breaking out of the news of demolition of Babri Masjid, the incensed Muslims took to the streets and vented their spleen against the police, public property and properties of Hindus, there is no material that these incidents were initiated and/or directed by any individuals or organisations.

11.20 The investigations carried out into the riot-related incidents, both in December 1992 and January 1993, singularly lack direction and the will to isolate and identify the elements responsible for it. Out of the three temples in the area viz. Vithal Mandir, Shaneshwar Mandir, and Laxmi-Narayan Mandir, Vithal Mandir was attacked at 2345 hours on 6th December 1992, Shaneshwar Mandir was attacked at 0215 hours on 7th December 1992, and Laxmi-Narayan Mandir was attacked on the same day between 1130 hours and 1430 hours Senior Police Inspector Bagwe is unable to say that these attacks were pre–planned or spontaneous, he is also unable to say that the attacks came about because of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Though the attackers had carried articles and implements for facilitating arson, as far as the police are concerned, they are unable to say that it was a pre–planned attack.

11.21 During the period 8th December 1992 to 31st December 1992, 23 cases of communal incidents were registered by the Dongri police station in which Hindus were aggressors in seven cases and Muslims were aggressors in 16 cases. Contrary to the police perception that during the December 1992 phase of the riots, it was only the Muslims who were aggressors, it appears that the Hindus also contributed their share towards riots and communal incidents during this period. Out of the seven cases in which Hindus were aggressors, four were cases in which Muslims were stabbed; in two cases there was looting and one involved looting and arson of a Muslim establishment. During the same period, out of the 16 cases in which Muslims were aggressors, nine were individual stabbing cases, and seven were cases of looting of different Hindu establishments.

11.22 Large scale rioting and looting took place on 6th December 1992 and there were only sporadic incidents of looting and stabbing during the next four days. According to police, only one incident of private firing occurred at Bhendi Bazar junction, when private firing was noticed from the mob gathered there. Though combing operations were carried in December 1992 and January 1993, other than recovery of knives, sickles, choppers, Molotov cocktails and broken tube–lights, the Dongri police did not recover any arm or ammunition nor was any person who had carried out private firing arrested by them.

11.23 The manner in which riot–related offences were investigated by the police attracts comment. There is no interrogation of arrested persons to elicit from them their connections with communal organisations or criminal gangs. Though it is asserted that such interrogations were carried out, there is no trace of such interrogations in the police papers. The facile explanation that the accused had given negative answers and that negative answers are not recorded, is unbelievable because in other jurisdictions and in interrogations carried by the DCB–CID, even negative answers were recorded.

11.24 During the January 1993 phase of rioting, from 1st January 1993 to 5th January 1993, five Hindus were stabbed in different localities at different times, after ascertaining their identity as Hindus. These incidents occurred in predominantly Muslim areas.

11.25 Though information was made available to the Senior Police Inspector by his assistants that on 9th January 1993 that there was a call given on loud–speakers calling upon the Muslims to take to arms and take to streets in some parts of Dongri, no follow-up was made. Examination of Control Room Log Book entries shows such calls having been made.

11.26 There are a large number of firing incidents in which Hindu victims have been killed/injured in the police firing. While the police claimed that the victims were miscreants who were fired upon, the Shiv Sena alleges that these were victims of private firing. As usual, there is no recovery of bullets or ballistic evidence to resolve the conflicting claims. The Shiv Sena suggests that police were interested in suppressing all evidence of criminality of Muslims, presumably under the political pressure, though it is hotly denied by the Senior Police Inspector.

11.27 Shiv Sena is active in the areas of Dr. Meshri Road, Umarkhadi, Keshavji Naik Road and Walpakhadi and has a shakha office near the Sandhurst Road Bridge. These areas, coincidentally saw a number of communal incidents during January 1993 phase of rioting. Apart therefrom, even during December 1992 most of the Muslim establishments were selectively attacked and looted.

11.28 The manner of investigations of the riot–related incidents during December 1992 and January 1993 leaves much to be desired. In fact, it gives an impression that the police were in league with the Hindus, particularly those linked to Shiv Sena.

11.29 On 7th December 1992, at about 1330 hours about 100 local youngsters broke open the main gate of M/s.Pahelvi Bakery shouting ‘Shiv Sena Zindabad’. They were armed with lathis, iron rods and swords. The bakery was looted and damaged. On 12th December 1992 a written complaint was made by the Partner of M/s.Pahelvi Bakery in which he specifically mentioned that he could recognize and identify Bipin, son of Dudhwala, opposite the bakery, and the son of a liquor don (Daruwala) of the locality. This complaint was treated as FIR and registered under C.R.No.526 of 1992. No investigations have been made as to who the alleged miscreants are and where they reside. Despite the conspicuous slogan ‘Shiv Sena Zindabad’ shouted by the miscreants, no investigations pursued to discover this link.

11.30 Fifteen houses of Muslims in Sophia Manzil, 16 houses of Muslims in Takiwala building, 10 houses of Muslims in Darvesh building, eight houses of Muslims in Ayeshabhai building and 57 houses of Muslims in Chhotani Manzil, on Dr. Meshri Road, were looted and set on fire (C.R.Nos.60, 67 and 70 of 1993). Barring Sophia, other buildings are within a distance of about 100 feet from the Dongri Police station, while Sophia Manzil is at about 400-450 feet from the Dongri police station. All the residents of these buildings had moved out to safer places on 8th January 1993 on account of fear. That these houses within such a short distance from the police station could be broken open, looted and subjected to arson, with impunity, indicates utter negligence of the police.

11.31 One Abdul Kadar Malbarwala made a written complaint on 19th January 1993 that 19 women, children and family members inside a locked house were attacked on 8th January 1993 and several houses in his building were broken open and looted (C.R.No.60 of 1993). Despite shouting for help to the police, the police did nothing in the matter and it was only after he contacted the Municipal Mahasangh of which he is a treasurer and Smt. Hamida Mistry, that help was provided to them at 0140 hours on 8th January 1993. When he was shouting for help, Police Inspector Patil asked him not to shout failing which he threatened to shoot him. He also alleges that Patil insulted Smt. Hamida Mistry while she was persuading him to provide help to the besieged families. Despite such serious allegations of atrocious behaviour on behalf of police, no investigation appears to have been done by either the Senior Police Inspector or by any other senior police officer. Malbarwala identified Bedi Cablewala of Tarwadi, Vinod Lakhoom and Naresh More as the miscreants who looted his house on 6th January 1993 and also gave their addresses in his complaints. While Vinod Lakhoom and Naresh More were arrested, Bedi Cablewala was not traced.

11.32 D.N. Shaikh of Chhotani Manzil has made a written complaint alleging that on 8th January 1993 during curfew hours at about 1600 hours a mob attacked their building from the back side with soda–water bottles, stones and brickbats. The attackers then attacked the Dargah building, ransacked and looted the houses of inmates of Dargah building on Mauji Rathod Road. Their appeals to the police produced no result. On 10th January 1993 at about 0330 hours three persons carrying swords had climbed on to the roof on the rear side of the building and despite informing the Police Control Room on telephone, nothing was done. This resulted in the Muslim residents fearing for their lives and moving out their houses. When they came back they found that their residences were completely ransacked and looted. In spite of some of the miscreants having been identified, no action has been taken.

11.33 A written complaint dated 27th January 1993 was made by Ahmed Hussain Aftabkhan and others naming a large number of miscreants who had looted their houses. Barring one Soda, others have not been arrested and the investigating officer’s remark in the case diary is that they are not ‘available’.

11.34 Abdul Gafoor Sheikh gave a complaint dated 16th February 1993 addressed to the Prime Minister, with copy to the Senior Police Inspector of Dongri Police Station. He had also given a specific list of miscreants to the Joint Commissioner of Police, M.N. Singh. Only Soda was arrested. The crime report of the investigating officer does not indicate as to what was done as far as the other miscreants were concerned and what was the result.

11.35 An anonymous letter was received by the Dongri police giving names of two persons who had received stolen goods. The crime reports of investigating officer does not show any efforts to follow–up the lead.

11.36 H. Karmali and Co. addressed a letter to the Joint Commissioner of Police on which the Joint Commissioner of Police made an endorsement on 19.1.1993 requesting the Additional Commissioner of Police (South Region), to ‘look into this letter’. This letter specifically alleges that one Kaliya, doing liquor business, was the main accused in the crime. However, no action appears to have been taken by the police.

11.37 There is a complaint by one Abdul Gafoor Sheikh dated 22nd February 1993 naming specifically nine miscreants. However, no one has been arrested and no follow–up action appears to have been taken by the police.

11.38 On 23rd March 1993 Vinoo Bhupad and Girdhar Butler made a complaint giving specific names of the miscreants, but no inquiry was made nor any action was taken with regard to this complaint.

11.39 A complaint dated 8th December 1992 is made by Mohd. Ismail, owner of Azmi Stores, which was looted (C.R.No.511 of 1992). The complainant specifically alleges that after looting his shop the miscreants poured kerosene and attempted to set it on fire but the people in the building stopped the miscreants from doing so as there were Hindu residents also in that building. No attempt was made by police to find out as who were the Hindus who stopped the miscreants from setting the Azmi Stores on fire, though the Senior Police Inspector admits that had they been identified they could have given valuable information about the miscreants and their descriptions. While recording his statement pursuant to his application dated 8th December 1992, the officer specifically asked Mohd. Ismail whether the complaint bore his signature, but nothing further beyond it with regard to the serious allegations made by him. Without any serious effort to investigate the matter, everybody concerned agreed that the case should be classified in "A" summary case, which was done on 15th December 1992.

11.40 Murgi Mohalla is a Muslim area. There are several shops of Hindu Marwadis here. Interestingly, none of these shops was damaged during December 1992 or January 1993 riots. On Jail Road also there are a number of Marwadi jewellers shops which were also not damaged during the riot periods. Barring the families of the police personnel residing in the Imamwada BIT chawls, there was no other case of a Hindu family being evacuated to safer place.

11.41 In the incident in C.R.No.35 of 1993 there was a clash between a Hindu mob and Muslim mob. Police fired 33 rounds during which one Muslim died and two Muslims were injured. This incident occurred in the Imamwada BIT chawls. Police were able to nab 81 Muslims on the spot, but not a single Hindu was arrested on the spot. Senior Police Inspector frankly admitted that he had no explanation to offer for this strange phenomenon.

11.42 Assistant Commissioner of Police Zende (Witness No.194) admits that it had come to his notice that, in a large number of cases, written complaints had been made naming Shiv Sainiks as miscreants, but because of the "circumstances" in a number of cases proper investigations were not carried out. Though he was on leave from 8th January 1993 to 20th January 1993, he blamed his subordinates for not bringing such specific instances to his notice soon after he rejoined duties. He points out an interesting development, viz., that when the Shiv Sena riots in 1969 took place, the Commissioner of Police had formed a Special Cell for investigating riot–related cases. However, during the December 1992 and January 1993, no such Special Cell was created, though he had suggested to his Deputy Commissioner of Police that one agency should co–ordinate and investigate all riot–related cases. If such a cell had been created there could have been faster and more effective investigation of the riot–related cases. Urdu papers like HindustanUrdu Times, and Shamnama and Hindu communally–minded papers like SaamnaDopahar ka SaamnaNavaakal andNavshakti were fanning the communal feelings of Muslims and Hindus respectively.

There is a candid admission by Assistant Commissioner of Police Zende that, because of number of attacks on police and circulation of hand–bills in Muslim areas exhorting Muslims to attack police, police were apprehending attack in secluded places from the Muslims. Because of this factor, to a certain extent, "the senior officers were giving wide latitude to mob action". Zende was categorical that though a number of private firing incidents were alleged, after investigation they were found to be false alarms or mistaken cases. The only material produced by the police with regard to private firing was a dented helmet of a police officer.

11.43 Zende is acute in his perception about the qualitative difference noticed during the December 1992 riots. Despite requests from the police, the mobs refused to disperse, there were defiant confrontations and a number of attacks on the police. There were also cases of private firing, both during December 1992 and January 1993. According to Zende’s assessment, about 97 to 98% of the incidents which took place during December 1992 were at the instance of criminals belonging to the Muslim community. Again, with regard to the selective attacks on Hindus from 1st January 1993, Zende says that, according to him, the attackers were criminals. After 8th January 1993 stabbing incidents came down and incidents of looting and arson increased. After the Radhabai Chawl incident, the retaliation on the part of Hindus started occurring in his jurisdiction.

11.44 The assessment of senior officers like Zende about the background of the riots is important. Because of the continuous propaganda of BJP, VHP and RSS about the building of the Ram Mandir, there was a sense of resentment amongst Muslims. This feeling kept on building up as developments continued to take place at Ayodhya. He says that Muslims had a continuing sense of injustice and the feeling that they were victims of atrocity. They also entertained a feeling of hurt as their place of religious worship had been targeted for demolition. They also entertained a feeling that the government did not do enough to protect their religious interests. Ram Charan Paduka processions in September and October 1992 in different localities, added to the existing communal tension and sharpened the feeling of resentment and victimisation entertained by the Muslim community. Newspaper reports about large gathering of Kar Sevaks at Ayodhya further enhanced the tension which was already existing in the area. Against the background of the developments of the communal tension, he was of the view that the demolition of the Babri Masjid was the ‘direct and immediate cause’ for the communal riots on 6th of December 1992 in Bombay.

11.45 Zende says that he had uncorroborated reports about audio and video cassettes being circulated by the Hindus showing previous Kar Seva, while the Muslims were distributing similar cassettes to highlight the damage caused to Babri Masjid. He had also heard rumours that the cassettes were being shown to public in different localities clandestinely.

11.46 Zende is clear that, despite its ostensible religious nature, Ghantanaad programme had political and communal overtones. Though he felt that they were likely to add to the communal disturbance, he did not feel that would result in communal riots.

11.47 Zende admitted that the different investigating officers, in their anxiety to make the records upto date, might have relied on the story of somebody and many times people might have been wrongly shown to have died in an incident which might not be factually correct. He also admitted that Mahaartis were not purely religious phenomenon but had political and communal overtones. However, he added that as Mahaartis were held only in Hindu areas, they were not likely to lead to any communal situation and he did not stop them.

11.48 In C.R.No.39 of 1993 there were complaints made by different Muslim individuals. Each one of them alleged that the looting was done by Shiv Sainiks. In the statements recorded by the investigating officers, though there is specific reference to the fact that looting had taken place, surprisingly there is no reference to the specific complaints made that the looting was done by the Shiv Sainiks, nor is there any reference to the inquiries made to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the allegations.

11.49 C.R.No.76 of 1993 is a case of ransacking and looting of a Muslim house. One of the accused, Anand Baraokar, admitted that he was a member of Shiv Senashakha No.5 and accountant of Chinchbunder Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav Mandal. Another accused Jayawant Tadwalkar stated that he was the secretary of the said Ganesh Utsav Mandal. Looted properties including personal jewellery worth Rs.55,000 were recovered from the accused persons.

11.50 Though it was asserted by the Senior Police Inspector that in several cases Muslims had started the trouble, he back–tracked under the cross–examination and admitted that in several cases there was nothing in the record of the case papers to show that the Muslims had started the trouble initially.

11.51 On 6th January 1993 none of the Hindus had come out on the streets to protest against the murders of the Mathadi workers, though the shops in the Hindu dominated areas were closed because of the bandh called by the Mathadi Kamgar Union.

11.52 There are about 30–40 organisations such as Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav Mandal, Dahikala Mandals and Navratri Mandals in Dongri area, but the police are unable to say whether any of them were working as fronts for the Shiv Sena.

11.53 The use to which army column was put in this area is less than satisfactory. Rioting incidents continued from 6th to 14th January 1993. Army column was deployed and attached to the police station in the afternoon of 9th January 1993, which continued upto and beyond 14th January 1993. The army column had no role to play except doing flag marches. Senior Police Inspector said that they were given strict instructions that, unless police gave written instructions to take charge of a situation, they should not take any action. According to him there was no occasion warranting such instructions being given to the army column.

11.54 During January 1993, 323 Muslim establishments, as against 33 Hindu establishments, were looted by the miscreants. Out of the 27 dead in police firing, 24 were Muslims and three were Hindus. Most of the Muslims were killed in the incidents of attacks against police or against Hindus. But Hindus were killed only while looting or setting fire to Muslim establishments. The number of Muslim establishments looted was larger, as most of the Muslims had fled from the area after locking their houses. There was no instance of any Hindu fleeing from the area on account of fear and, consequently, there was no question of opening refugee camps for Hindus. The only exception is the case of police families of police personnel from Imamwada BIT chawls who had to be moved to safety and relocated.

11.55 One Muslim woman Noorjehan (C.R.No.35 of 1993) and one Zarina (C.R.No.36 of 1993) were killed in police firing while they were inside their residences. Two Muslim women protesting against the arrest of their menfolks were injured in the police firing (C.R.No.43 of 1993). Explanation given for these casualties is unacceptable. It is said that possibly the two women were standing behind rioters indulging in stone throwing on the police and the police firing directed against the rioters might have injured them. Hardly believable.

11.56 One Muslim girl aged 11 and one Muslim child aged 2 (C.R.No.54 of 1993) were injured in police firing while they were very much inside their residence. One Muslim girl, Rubina Rubali Sheikh, aged 10 was injured (C.R.No.57 of 1993). The story of the police that she was injured in private firing does not appear probable.

11.57 On 13th January 1993 Retired Major Sayyed Rahimtulla had taken permission from the Deputy Control, Colaba, for distribution of milk and grains in this area. However, on account of the high–handedness of police, permission for such distribution was refused and he was made to go away.

11.58 There are two incidents which need special mention : The incident of attack on the police lines at Imamwada BIT chawls and the firing at Suleman Bakery. In both incidents, the Commission feels that the police acted in a manner not befitting the police force of any civilized, democratic state.

11.59 Suleman Bakery, situated on Ibrahim Rahimtula Road, is a small establishment which caters to the citizens of the locality. It is situated immediately adjacent to the Chunabhatti Masjid, on the southern side. Opposite the bakery, across the main road, is situated a Jain Derasad and immediately to the southern side of the Jain Derasad is situated Taj Book Depot Building.

11.60 On 9th January 1993 a police picket consisting of Assistant Sub–Inspector Nagare, H.C. No.7230 and P.C. No.7406 were on bandobast on Ibrahim Rahimtula in front of Taj Book Depot Building. Police Inspector Anant Keshav Ingale who was on a supervision round reached this spot at 0930 hours. When he reached this spot, the constables on duty reported to him that there was firing in their direction from the roof top of Suleman Bakery. According to Ingale, when he was watching the situation, one round came to be fired towards them from the roof top of Suleman Bakery, though he could not observe as to who had fired. This was followed by further firing of three or four rounds. Under his orders P.C. No.20689 fired five rounds, P.C. No.23157 fired four rounds and PN 7406 fired two rounds from .410 muskets towards the roof top of Suleman Bakery. Ingale and his party climbed to the terrace of Taj Book Depot building from where they could notice eight–ten persons hiding behind the water tank. Ingale shouted warnings and claims that, because his warnings were not heeded, he fired two rounds from his revolver in their direction. P.C. No.10805 also fired one round from his .303 rifle and the firing from the roof top of the bakery ceased for some time. Ingale alleges that at this time he observed the miscreants on the roof top of Suleman Bakery, that one carried an automatic weapon like sten–gun and two others had revolvers. Ingale then came down and informed the control room and requested for additional help.

11.61 At about 1230 hours Joint Commissioner of Police, R.D.Tyagi, accompanied by the Special Operations Squad (SOS) arrived at the scene. It is alleged that there was firing upon the police even after the SOS came on the spot. The SOS demanded the opening of the closed door of the bakery, but instead of opening the door the inmates started throwing acid bulbs and soda–water bottles at the police. Tear-gas shells were burst by the police with no effect. The SOS stormed into the bakery by breaking open the entrance door. According to the police, the party which entered the premises was attacked by 1-15 persons armed with choppers, iron bars and knives. They advanced towards the police and because they did not surrender despite of warnings shouted, the police had to open fire and advance inside; about 40-50 persons attempted to obstruct the police party and the SOS went to the roof top of the bakery; about 15-20 persons were hiding in the space between the water tank and the walls of Chunabhatti Masjid; the officers and men of the party called upon them to surrender; the miscreants armed with sten–gun like weapons, fired at the police; when the SOS returned the firing, about eight–ten jumped in the gutter passage between the bakery and masjid and escaped; the persons carrying the firearms jumped down into the masjid and escaped; the SOS overpowered some of the persons on the roof top and took them in custody. In all 78 persons were flushed out from the bakery and taken into custody. This incident resulted in the death of nine persons.

11.62 After carefully examining the evidence on record, the Commission is of the view that the story of the police does not inspire credence. The panchanama carried out by the police specifically refers to bullet marks on the bakery building and the two adjacent structures. Obviously, these were the marks made by the firing of the police party. Strangely, no attempt is made to carry out a similar panchanama of the Taj Book Depot building and adjacent buildings towards which there was alleged firing from the roof top of the bakery. Significantly, no member of the police party, nor of public, received any injury as a result of the alleged private firing. Although firing upon the police would be considered as a most serious offence, Ingale or the staff on duty at the said spot, made no complaint nor sent any message to the Pydhonie or Dongri police station requesting re–enforcement from 0830 to 1200 hours. Ingale’s version about the timings of his presence at the bandobast point adjacent to Taj Book Depot Building is contradictory. In one breath he says that between 0930 hours to 1030 hours he was attending an incident near Nawab Masjid (C.R.No.115 of 1993 of Pydhonie), and in the next, he says that between 0930 hours to 1230 hours he was attending to the incident covered by C.R.No.97/93 (Pydhonie). Under cross–examination, Ingale admitted that, "...because of the distance separating us, I would not be able to say for sure, but I felt that I had seen the miscreants wielding one sten–gun and two revolvers". He is also not sure whether the nine deaths, which occurred in this incident, resulted because of the firing by SOS or by his picket.

11.63 Reference to the Control Room Log Book entry of 9th January 1993, further obfuscates the picture. At 1231 hours Pydhonie Mobile–I gave a message to Control Room : "Public is firing on the police from Suleman Bakery, Minara Masjid". At 1252 hours again there is a message from Pydhonie Mobile–I to Control Room : "there is firing (public) from Suleman Bakery". At 1303 hours Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), R.D.Tyagi, gave a message to the Control Room : "We are trying to apprehend one person near Suleman Bakery". At 1310 hours Joint Commissioner of Police, (Crime), R.D.Tyagi, gave a message to Control Room : "I have taken into custody 4/5 persons at Suleman Bakery". At 1333 hours Joint Commissioner of Police, Tyagi, gave message to Control Room : "At Mohd. Ali Road, Hussain Bakery, they were firing with one sten and one rifle and they injured four persons. Two persons have been sent to J.J. ...Two persons...". At 1340 hours Senior Police Inspector Dongri gave a message to Control Room : "We are coming to Suleman Bakery". At 1345 hours Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone–II gave a message to Control Room : "Instruct Senior Police Inspector to bring empty vehicle to Suleman Bakery". At 1349 hours Senior Police Inspector Dongri gave a message to Control Room : "We have arrived at Suleman Bakery".

11.64 This exchange of conversation between Joint Commissioner of Police, (Crime), R.D.Tyagi, and the Control Room does not indicate a sense of urgency. That there was an attack on the police and they retaliated, resulting in nine deaths of miscreants and arrested 78 is evident. Reading the message given by Tyagi at 1333 hours gives the impression that four persons had been injured by the firing from Suleman Bakery using rifle and sten–gun. Surprisingly, their names are not indicated in C.R.No.46 of 1993, nor are their statements recorded. They would have been the best persons who could have thrown light on this gruesome incident.

11.65 The SOS personnel were armed to the teeth. According to Police Inspector Ingale they were carrying self –loading rifles, 9 mm. pistols, Carbines and one of them was even carrying an AK-47 rifle. Police Inspector Ingale admitted that the police party was beyond the firing range of revolvers. The manner in which SOS effected its entry, according to the police, is also not beyond doubt. Suleman Bakery has a window on the first floor which overlooks Ibrahim Rahimtulla Road. If at all some miscreants carrying sten–gun and other firearms were holed in the bakery, it would have been very easy for them to fire upon the police party attempting to enter the bakery from the first floor window. No such thing appears to have been done. Normally, if armed miscreants are holed up in any place, the police party approaching the said place would do so with utmost caution and circumspection. The manner in which SOS banged upon the door and stormed into the bakery by breaking open the door indicates that they were not expecting any firing at them from the inmates of the bakery. The most significant fact is that not even a single policeman from the bandobastpicket at Taj Book Depot Building corner, nor from the SOS, received any injury from firearms or even from soda–water bottles, stones and acid bulbs alleged to have been thrown at them.

Joint Commissioner of Police Tyagi’s reaction to absence of police casualties was one of surprise because he expected that the number of casualties should have been less. Apparently, Tyagi was not expecting the people inside the bakery to offer armed resistance. Significantly, neither Tyagi nor Ingale, entered the bakery premises and both claim that they were standing outside the main entrance of the bakery.

11.66 The entrance to the bakery is very narrow and, as soon as one steps over the threshold, one has to climb a very narrow and steep stair case which is not even wide enough to permit two averagely built persons to climb it shoulder to shoulder. After reaching the top of the flight of the stairs, one has to gain access to the landing at the top of the staircase by pulling on a hanging rope. Evidence on record suggests that when the SOS came to the landing at the top of the staircase, the only obstruction came from unarmed persons who were pushed aside to gain access to the room on the first floor. The story put forward by the police that they met with armed resistance from the persons on the roof hiding behind the water tank is unbelievable.

11.67 The post mortem reports of the nine dead bodies do not indicate that the persons were hit by bullets while facing and confronting the police. On the contrary, they are suggestive of the victims being shot down in the back while trying to flee. This is the opinion of the Forensic Expert, Dr. Pritam Phatnani, appointed as Expert Assessor by the Commission. That the persons were covering behind the water tanks, was an understandable normal reaction of any person faced with a storming contingent of armed police.

11.68 The public witnesses examined, have given graphic accounts as to how the inmates, who were unarmed, were shot down in virtually cold–blood. That some of them jumped over the Chunabhatti Masjid premises and made their escape does not support the theory that they were terrorists or that they were carrying ‘deadly firearms’. The police recovered no firearms whatsoever. All that they claim to have recovered was one spent shell of AK–47 rifle. This perhaps came from the AK–47 rifle carried by one of the SOS personnel. In fact, the utter disappointment of Tyagi is seen when he admits that, to the extent the operation failed to apprehend the miscreants firing at the police, he was not satisfied with the implementation of his instructions. Tyagi was also surprised as to how 78 persons could have been flushed out and arrested from the bakery which was so narrow and congested. Though there is a statement that one P.C. 23157 Chander Tukaram Sanmukh has recovered 8 swords from under the water tank on the roof, this recovery is also doubtful as no panchanama has been made at all about this recovery.

11.69 The evidence of the students and teachers of the Madrassa–E–Darul–Ulum–Imdadiya appears consistent and leads the Commission to the conclusion that the policemen who barged in the Suleman Bakery and thereafter stormed in the Chunabhatti Masjid and madrassa, went on a rampage assaulting the inmates there. It also appears that there was indiscriminate and callous police firing resulting in nine casualties.

11.70 The Commission is not at all satisfied with the version of the police. Even assuming some element of truth in the version of the police that there was private firing the incident, it was not as serious as is sought to be made out. The Commission feels that the police were very much influenced by the floating exaggerated rumours of attacks from sophisticated firearms, and the consequent fear psychosis, which caused them to shoot to kill. The result — deaths of nine innocent persons in the Suleman Bakery and the adjoining premises. The evidence on record in no way bears out the police story that there were terrorists, much less with deadly arms; nor does the evidence suggest that it was necessary for the police to carry out such extensive firing as they did. This is one incident where the police appeared to be utterly trigger–happy and used force utterly disproportionate to meet the apprehensions of private firing, assuming there was one. The responsibility for this incident must squarely fall on Joint Commissioner of Police, R.D.Tyagi, who was overall in–charge of the operations at the Suleman Bakery, and Assistant Police Inspector Deshmukh and Police Inspector Lahane, who were leading the SOS men.


11.71 The other incident in which the police did not cover themselves with glory, occurred at the BIT Chawls, Imamwada.

11.72 In the morning of 7th December 1992 the Muslims of Dongri, who were incensed by the demolition of Babri Masjid, went on a rampage. Violent attacks by Muslim mobs at several places became the pattern on the day. J.J. Hospital junction and Bhendi Bazar junctions saw huge mobs causing obstruction to the traffic by placing hurdles on the road. Similar activities were going along Sir J.J. Road and Maulana Shaukat Ali Road. When the police tried to disperse the mob, they were attacked with stones, soda–water bottles and acid bulbs. The mob also set fire to the wooden articles on the street. Lathi charge produced little effect and the police fired at the violent mobs resulting in deaths of miscreants. There were also incidents of arson and looting of shops belonging to Hindus in Muslim predominant areas. A .410 musket of Pydhonie constable was snatched away by the mob which assaulted him. The police picket on duty near the Imamwada BIT Chawl was subjected to an attack by soda–water bottles, brick bats and stones. Some of the miscreants set fire to the Laxmi–Narayan Mandir, a tarpaulin workshop and some premises in the BIT chawl. The police resorted to firing, resulting in two deaths.

11.73 Imamwada BIT Chawls mostly houses Muslim families, though some of the Hindu policemen occupy one of the chawls. Their houses were broken and ransacked and an atmosphere of terror was created, causing the Hindu residents to seek shelter elsewhere. Though the violent activities of the Muslims on that day were condemnable, what the police did was equally condemnable. In order to flush out the miscreants, the police started searches, quite justifiably. But the behaviour of police, and especially SRP jawans, during the searches, was blameworthy. Witness after witness from the Memonwada BIT chawls describes the high–handed and brutal behaviour of the police and SRP jawans.

11.74 Zulekha Hassan Sheikh (Witness No.195), an old lady of 65 years, is a resident of Room No.32 of chawl No.6. On 8th December 1992 she was standing near the staircase when the curfew was relaxed from 1200 hours to 1500 hours. She had sent her grandson to bring bread and milk and was standing near the staircase waiting for her grandson to bring the milk and bread. At that time 12/13 SRP men asked her as to why was she standing there and then beat her up on her back, hips and hit her with lathis on her hands. They behaved in an obscene manner and, while beating her on the knees, they taunted her that she looks good dancing even at this age. The sense of utter humiliation felt by the witness comes through her evidence and the Commission sees no reason for not accepting her evidence. Suggestion of the police that, because her grandson was an accused in C.R.No.35 of 1993 (Dongri), she was giving false deposition to cover up her grandson, does not jell. The guilt or otherwise of the grandson is to be decided by the Criminal Court, which, in any case, would be uninfluenced by the evidence given by this lady before the Commission.

11.75 Nazneen Abdul Malik Zhakowala (Witness No.198) is a resident of Room No.19, 2nd floor, Ellam Mansion, Dongri. On 9th January 1993 her husband Abdul Malik Abdul Latif returned from Pune and was in bed as he had kidney pain. At about 1920 hours on 10th January 1993 policemen entered the building and started searching the building. They barged into her room and smashed up the household articles with rifle butts under the guise of searching for weapons. When Nazneen protested, saying that her husband was sick and her father was suffering from cancer, and requested the police not to bother them, one of the policemen said to another, "Hila ghya, Kami yeyeel (Take her; she would be useful)". Her husband, who protested, was later on shown as accused in TADA Special Case No.32 of 1993.

11.76 Similar is the tale of woe of Salma Aziz Merchant (Witness No.200) who resides in Room No.2, Ground floor, Karim Mistry Building, Tantanpura Street. Her husband was sick because of chronic ulcer, heart ailment and was under continuous treatment from Dr. Moledina. On 10th January 1993, at about 1200 hours, 20–25 policemen entered the house and ransacked the household articles under the excuse of searching for weapons. They took away Salma’s 16–year–old boy and sick husband. When she tried to protest, the policemen brandished rifles and threatened to shoot her and her 16–year–old son. Subsequently, Salma learnt that her husband, Aziz Merchant, had died in a police encounter on 11th January 1993. According to Salma, when she went to identify the body at the J.J. morgue, the bullet–ridden body was virtually beyond recognition. Salma was emphatic that her husband was incapable of joining the riot in the state of his health and the police have murdered him. Her evidence is corroborated by Dr. M.J.M. Moledina (Witness No.201), who states in categorical terms that the physical condition in which he had found Aziz, when last examined, was such that he would not be in a position to move about, though Aziz has been accused that he was part of a riotous mob and died in police firing.

11.77 Though a number of Hindus have filed affidavits from this area in order to throw the blame for the riots on Muslims, it appears that their evidence was prompted by activists of Shiv Sena from the local shakhas like Ankolekar and Sagwekar, and does not inspire confidence.

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