Thursday, 13 December 2012

Jogeshwari Police Station

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

14.1 This police station has a jurisdictional area of 6 sq. k.m. with a population of about four lakhs. Vast stretches of the jurisdictional area comprise illegal and unauthorized hutments, built haphazardly, making policing difficult. This area is notoriously prone to communal violence. This police station has a long history of previous communal riots, some of which erupted on petty issues. The crowded hutment colonies house Hindus and Muslims side–by–side, though there are several Hindu residences situated deep within Muslim pockets and vice versa. Society Road, Bandrekarwadi, Franciswadi, Pratap Nagar, Shiv Tekdi, Meghwadi, Majaswadi, Sham Nagar, Indira Nagar, Sarvodaya Nagar and Income Tax colony are dominated by Hindus while Makranipada, Chacha Nagar, Andheri Plot, Bandra Plot, Koliwada, Ramgad, Pascal Colony, Prem Nagar, Colaba Plot, Jhula Maidan and Idgah Maidan are Muslim dominated pockets. Maharashtra Chowk, Radhabai Chawl, Shivaji Nagar are mixed localities where Hindus reside in a predominantly Muslim pocket. P.P. Dias Compound has mixed residences, but the Muslim residences are situated within a Hindu pocket. The Muslim dominated areas — Pascal Colony, Ramgadh, Prem Nagar, Colaba Plot, Andheri Plot, Goni Nagar and Bandra Plot — are situated on a hilltop while the Hindu dominated areas Harijan Nagar, Shankarwadi, Hari Nagar, Meghwadi and Income Tax colony are situated at lower level. Badruddin Tayyabji Marg runs eastward from the Western Express Highway, near Squatters Colony, towards Meghwadi on the eastern side of the Western Express Highway. The area on the southern side of Tayyabji Marg is Muslim dominated, the area on the northern side being dominated by Hindus.

14.2 Most of the communal incidents during December 1992 and January 1993 occurred in the hutment areas situated on the eastern side of the Western Express Highway. Because this area had seen frequent communal trouble, the police had specially maintained a Chowky on the border line of Hindu–Muslim localities known as Janashakti Police Chowky. A Hindu dominated area known as Shankarwadi is separated by an open ground from Pascalwadi, dominated by Muslims. Periodically, Hindus from Shankarwadi and Muslims from Pascalwadi have violently clashed on this maidan, called Pascal maidan.

14.3 According to Senior Police Inspector Bhausaheb Rajaram Deshmukh, this police station was inadequately staffed and was equipped with materials, equipment and means of communication hardly enough to handle even day–to–day problems during normal times. The peculiar location of this police station creates its own problems. It is located in a low lying area adjacent to a nullah which gets flooded during the monsoon. Whenever the nullah gets flooded, the police have to scurry about moving the records and armoury to higher locations to prevent damage. Proposals for relocation of the police station made by successive Senior Police Inspectors evoked no response from the State Government other than that it was being ‘seriously considered’, for about seven to eight years.

14.4 October to December 1992 saw hectic activities on the part of both Hindus and Muslims propagating and exhorting their respective points of view on the vexed Ram Janambhoomi–Babri Masjid dispute. This area also had its quota of Ram Charan Paduka processions, corner meetings and appeals to the Hindus to go for Kar Seva at Ayodhya. Most of these activities were organized by Bharatiya Janata Party, VHP and Bajrang Dal. There was also a Ghantanaad organized on 6th December 1992 coinciding with the Kar Seva at Ayodhya.

14.5 Prohibitory orders under Section 37(1) and Section 37(3) of Bombay Police Act, 1951 were operative here from 5th December 1992 and 6th December 1992, respectively, though there was exemption from ban against assembly in case of religious gatherings.

14.6 On 6th December 1992 though there was communal tension throughout the area due to the news of demolition of Babri Masjid, there was no communal violence as such. Trouble in this area started from 7th December 1992 and continued till about 12th December 1992, after which there was a spell of uneasy calm broken by fresh eruption of violence and riots from 7th January 1993 which lasted upto 12th January 1993.

14.7 During December 1992 the first incident of communal violence in this area occurred, predictably, at the border of Shankarwadi and Pascalwadi at about 1530 hours on 7th December 1992 (C.R.No.406 of 1992). By the time police arrived on the scene, Hindu and Muslim mobs armed with stones, sticks and other weapons had gathered in the Pascal maidan and were fighting each other. The police are unable to say who provoked whom. The evidence of the public witnesses suggests that, upon hearing the news of demolition of Babri Masjid, Muslims of Pascalwadi were agitated and collected in groups saying that Hindus who had demolished their mosque had to be taught a lesson. Seeing the Muslims gather in groups and apprehending an attack on Shankarwadi, Hindu boys of Shankarwadi also gathered. It is not clear who threw the first stone, but there was heavy stone throwing by each side against the other. When the police arrived at the scene things were already going out of hand and, caught in the midst of two warring mobs, the police became easy targets for both. The police frantically tried to control the situation and fired about 111 rounds after 16 rounds of tear-gas shells proved ineffective.

The riot left in its wake 11 establishments of Hindus and nine of Muslims damaged; one Hindu died due to stabbing while another was injured by stabbing; two Hindus and two Muslims were injured in stone throwing; five Muslims were killed in police firing and 18 Muslims and one Hindu were injured in police firing. Police Sub–Inspector Janardan Bhabal died as a result of a bullet injury to his head. Both police and Shiv Sena claim that it was due to private firing. However, this appears doubtful. Contrary to normal practice, the police sent the bullet removed from the body of Bhabal to the ballistic expert, seeking to know from him the type, calibre and make of firearm from which the bullet could have been fired. The report of the Assistant Chemical Analyser to Government (Ballistic), Forensic Science Laboratory, dated 18th January 1993, laconically observes that the exhibit sent was "a fired lead piece of weight approximately 0.37 gms.", a fact which was pretty obvious to the police too! Despite receipt of this useless and immaterial opinion from the ballistic expert, the police did not pursue the matter to get a categorical opinion on the queries raised by them. The only material in support of private firing theory consists of the statements of Shashikant Ganpat Padwal, Chandrakant Mahadev Pavale and Mahesh Balu Suravase, who claim that the bullet which hit Police Sub–Inspector Bhabal came from the side of the Muslim mob. Considering the location of the police, and the number of police personnel firing on violent mobs on both sides simultaneously, the possibility of Police Sub–Inspector Bhabal having been hit by a stray bullet fired by some police personnel cannot be ruled out. In fact, this possibility is also admitted by Senior Police Inspector Deshmukh. Since Bhabal was continuously unconscious till he died, his statement was not recorded and the ballistic expert’s opinion is wholly unhelpful.

14.8 Between 1600 to 1700 hours on the same day there was an attack by a mob numbering about 100–200 on Pawaskar colony near Shivaji Nagar Police chowky and adjacent establishments (C.R.No.407 of 1992). Five police personnel sustained injuries in the action and 57 establishments of Hindus and 15 of Muslims were damaged. One Hindu was stabbed by the mob and killed. The firing by the police to control the mob resulted in injuries to three Hindus and two Muslims. Sixteen accused, (two Hindus, 12 Muslims and two Christians) were arrested out of whom one Hindu and 10 Muslims have been charge–sheeted to stand trial. Though according to the police the attack came only from the Muslim mob, the damage sustained by 15 Muslim properties, the fact that one of the arrested accused is a Hindu and that three Hindus were injured in police firing, would suggest presence and involvement of a violent Hindu mob also. The statement of Kantaprasad S. Yadav recorded in this case suggests that at about 1700 hours a mob of about 500–700 persons was roaming about in the vicinity of Hari Nagar, a Hindu dominated area in the vicinity. The mob which attacked the Shivaji Nagar Police Chowky attempted to snatch away a rifle from the hand of one of the constables.

14.9 Between 1700 to 1800 hours on 7th December 1992 a mob of about 200–250 Muslims attacked Zula Maidan Police Chowky and damaged it (C.R.No.408 of 1992).

14.10 Though the police version is that at about 1900 hours on 7th December 1992 a mob of 200 Muslims attacked shops and timber marts of Hindus in Sanjay Nagar, causing damage to four Hindu establishments and setting fire to a timber mart of a Hindu, causing loss to the extent of Rs. 8.5 lakh (C.R.No.409 of 1992), even the Senior Police Inspector was forced to admit under cross–examination that this incident did involve two violent mobs, one of Hindus and the other of Muslims; four of the damaged properties belonged to Muslims and three to Hindus and that no Hindu accused has been arrested.

14.11 In C.R.No.410 of 1992, there is said to have been an attack by a Muslim mob, though the properties damaged were the properties belonged to Muslims. The explanation of the police, that the stones thrown by the Muslim mob might have inadvertently damaged Muslim properties, sounds hollow. Twelve Muslims have been arrested in this offence and charge-sheeted. Damage was also caused to three cars belonging to Hindus and three cars belonging to Muslims.

14.12 In C.R.No.413 of 1992, the incident took place at Maharashtra Chowk, a tiny pocket of Hindus in a predominately Muslim locality, at about 0930 hours on 9th December 1992. Though the police version is that the miscreant mob consisted only of Muslims, it is open to doubt. Apart from 44 Muslims, four Hindus have also been arrested and the four Hindus admitted that they had taken part in riots and thrown stones and soda–water bottles at the police and houses of Muslims. The properties damaged comprise 10 establishments of which six belonged to Muslims and four to Hindus. One mazaar near the kabrastan was also damaged. The statements of Police Sub–Inspector Machhindra Nivrutti Bodake and Police Sub–Inspector Jalandar Laxman Shitole recorded in this case also suggest the presence of a violent Hindu mob there. The police fired 28 rounds to control the mobs, causing death to two Muslims and injuries to two Muslims. One police officer and a constable were injured in the mob action. Despite the incident occurring in a crowded locality in broad daylight, the statement of no public witness has been recorded.

14.13 There was an incident of attack on and arson of a lady’s tailoring establishment at Pratap Nagar owned by a Muslim on 10th December 1992 at about 1600 hours (C.R.No.414 of 1992). One Hindu accused has been arrested and charge–sheeted.

14.14 On 10th December 1992 a bakery owned by a Muslim situated in Bandrekarwadi was attacked, damaged and looted (C.R.No.415 of 1992). Four Hindus have been arrested and charge–sheeted.

14.15 On 11th December 1992 at about 0730 hours pieces of a slaughtered pig were thrown into the Taj Masjid on Service Road near Natwar Nagar, the intention obviously being to provoke the religious susceptibility of Muslims (C.R.No.416 of 1992). Two Hindus have been arrested and charge–sheeted and their interrogation reveals that this was precisely their intention. The Mill Diary Entry dated 11th December 1992 pertaining to this incident reveals that there was some damage caused to Taj Masjid by way of broken windows and a partly burnt meter–box.

14.16 There were seven incidents of attacks on individual Hindus and Muslims, after ascertaining their identity. One occurred on 14th December 1992 (C.R.No.420 of 1992) in which the victim was a Muslim. One occurred on 21st December 1992 (C.R.No.430 of 1992) in which the victim was a Muslim. These incidents occurred between 14th December 1992 to 29th December 1992, indicating that though major incidents of communal violence had subsided, miscreants were trying to keep the communal cauldron simmering.

14.17 Special mention needs to be made of a case highlighting the wooden–headed approach of the bureaucracy (C.R.No.420 of 1992). The victim of this incident was a Muslim, Mohd. Issak, who had been attacked and killed by unknown persons. His wife claimed compensation by a letter dated 24th December 1992 which was forwarded by police to the Tahsildar’s office. The Tahsildar objected to compensation being granted on the ground that there were no actual riots and therefore it was possible that the victim had been killed because of previous enmity. Fortunately, police were more reasonable and took the stand that the murder came in the wake of communal riots and there was no material to show that it was because of previous enmity. It is not clear as to whether compensation has at all been paid to the widow. An interesting facet of this case is that, although the Senior Police Inspector Deshmukh had opined that the available clues were more than adequate to effect an arrest, the investigating officer tarried upto May 1993 and ultimately the case came to be classified in "A" summary.

14.18 The manner in which the investigating officers hurriedly closed the investigations of cases registered during this period by classifying them in "A" summary, despite clear clues, indicates want of seriousness in pursuing them, a fact candidly admitted by the Senior Police Inspector, though he lamented that most of the time of the police was taken up by bandobust duties for VIPs leaving little time for investigations.

14.19 During January 1993, on 2nd and 3rd, there were incidents of attacks on individual Hindus (C.R.Nos.3 & 5 of 1993) and an attack on an auto–rickshaw in which one Hindu and two Muslims were travelling (C.R. No.6 of 1993).

14.20 On 4th January 1993, at about 2030 hours, a gathering of about 3,500–4,000 activists of Shiv Sena wanted to take out a morcha from Bandrekarwadi to Jogeshwari Police Station under the leadership of Shri Gajanan Kirtikar, Shri Ramesh More and others to protest against the failure of the police to arrest the assailants in the individual assault cases (C.R.No.8 of 1993). In view of the ban order and the prevalent situation, the police rightly refused permission for the morcha. The Deputy Commissioner of Police and Senior Police Inspector personally went to Bandrekarwadi and tried to dissuade the Shiv Sena leaders from taking out themorcha. Though the crowd then appeared to disperse, the dispersing crowd pelted stones and caused damage to the houses of Muslims in Chacha Nagar, attacked one Muslim with swords and choppers and also damaged the Chacha Nagar Masjid (C.R.No.8 of 1993). In this case, 17 Hindus and one Christian have been arrested and proceeded against. The leaders of the morcha gathered in Bandrekarwadi were requested to give their memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Police there itself, but they refused and insisted on presenting it in the police station. The Deputy Commissioner of Police thereafter went to the police station and the leaders, followed by the crowd, went to the police station via Chacha Nagar. Apparently, while the morcha was passing through Chacha Nagar the trouble erupted.

The explanation for inability to handle the situation despite advance notice, that there was insufficient manpower, does not ring true. All the more so, since no post factoaction appears to have been taken against any of the leaders of or participants in the morcha, for reasons unexplained. It is also seen that after the leaders were told to desist, they addressed their followers at Bhawani Chowk, Bandrekarwadi. The panchanama shows that 15 houses of Muslims and one of Hindu was damaged; seven Muslims and one Hindu received stab injuries and it is not in dispute that in this communal rioting the Muslims suffered most in terms of property loss, personal injury and attack on a place of worship. Doubtless, this was the first major communal incident of violence January 1993 which occurred even before the Radhabai Chawl incident. Nonetheless, the Senior Police Inspector doggedly stuck to his stand that serious trouble began in this area only after the Radhabai Chawl incident. Apparently, there was a dispute between the local leaders of Shiv Sena and Muslims about unauthorised extension of Chacha Nagar Masjid and this opportunity was utilized to settle scores. The memorandum supposed to have been handed over by the processionists to the Deputy Commissioner of Police on that day has not been produced on record despite the Commission calling for the same, claiming that it is not ‘available in the records of the police station’. Curiously, the statements of police officers and policemen who accompanied the procession to the police station have not been recorded.

14.21 On 6th January 1993, at about 2035 hours there was a knife assault on a Hindu travelling on a scooter (C.R.No.9 of 1993) and on 7.1.1993 at about 1300 hours a Muslim was assaulted with knife and robbed of his belongings at Shivaji Nagar, after ascertaining his identity (C.R.No.11 of 1993).

14.22 On 7th January 1993 at about 1500 hours three Muslims armed with choppers threatened another Muslim, a member of Peace Committee, with dire consequences and demanded money from him to purchase weapons (C.R.No.12 of 1993). Two Muslim accused were arrested, out of which accused Sallu Sattar was subsequently convicted by the Sessions Court at Bombay in the Radhabai Chawl case. The accused in this case appear to be known local criminals who took advantage of the communal situation to extort money.

14.23 On 7th January 1993 at about 2045 hours a Hindu girl, resident of Shivaji Nagar, was attacked with knife near Pascal Colony (C.R.No.13 of 1993). This incident gave rise to an appreciable increase in communal tension and created panic in the locality.

14.24 On 7th January 1993 at about 2130 hours there was a violent clash between the Hindu mob of Shankarwadi and Muslim mob from Pascal colony, both about 500–strong (C.R.No.14 of 1993). There was extensive property damage and breaking open, ransacking and looting of houses of people who had locked their houses and gone away. Three Hindus and 27 Muslims have been arrested in this connection. On the same day, there was violent clash in Shivaji Nagar and an alleged case of private firing. There was also large scale arson and attacks on the police by both mobs. Police firing resulted in injuries to five Muslims and two Hindus while two Muslims and six Hindus were injured in mob violence. One Hindu was injured in arson and two Muslims were stabbed to death.

14.25 On 8th January 1993 at about 0030 hours a house in a chawl popularly known as Radhabai Chawl (though its actual name is Gandhi Chawl) was attacked by miscreants who locked the door of a Hindu house from outside and set it on fire. Although nine persons from the Hindu family of Bane had been confined inside the room, some of them managed to escape. Six of the family succumbed to burn injuries including a handicapped girl (C.R.No.15 of 1993). This case attracted lot of media attention and was extensively reported in newspapers — even in exaggerated versions. The police applied the provisions of TADA to this case. The case was tried by the Sessions Court at Bombay and some of the accused were convicted while some were acquitted. The learned Judge of the Sessions Court recorded a finding that communal hatred was the motive behind this crime. All the convicted accused in this case are Muslims. This incident was played up by the Hindutva parties, particularly the Shiv Sena, and is stated to be a watershed mark during the January 1993 phase of the communal violence which led to Hindu backlash, according to the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which theory has been reiterated by the State and the police.

14.26 On 8th January 1993 at about 0530 hours there was violent clash between rival mobs of Hindus and Muslims numbering about 500 each at Meghwadi (C.R.No.16 of 1993). Police resorted to lathi charge followed by firing. In this case 123 establishments of Hindus, 63 of Muslims and 19 of Christians were damaged. Ten Hindus and 22 Muslims have been charge–sheeted in this case. An interesting facet of this case is that a bakery of a Muslim known as ‘A-1 Bakery’ situated in Swamy Compound, in which the police station itself is situated, at a distance of 150 feet across open ground, was looted by miscreants. The police appeared wholly unaware or incapable of preventing such mischief, despite its occurrence right under their noses, in their alley.

14.27 On 8th January 1993 trouble erupted in the evening in Meghwadi, Prem Nagar and surrounding areas (C.R.No.18 of 1993). This time there is no doubt that the trouble was started by Hindus from Meghwadi who pelted stones towards Muslims of Prem Nagar. Swords, iron rods and choppers were freely used. The seriousness of the incident can be gauged by the fact that one hundred and thirty rounds of different calibers were fired by police and senior police officers like Additional Commissioner of Police, North Region, A.A.Khan, Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone–VIII, Kurane, and Assistant Commissioner of Police Goregaon Division, Suryawanshi were present to deal with the situation. Two Muslims and two Hindus died in police firing while four Muslims one Hindu were injured. One Hindu and two Muslims were injured in mob violence. Two Hindus and one Muslim have been arrested and charge–sheeted.

14.28 On 8th January 1993 at about 2130 hours there was clash between mobs of Hindus and Muslims and large–scale rioting in Chacha Nagar and Franciswadi (C.R.No.19 of 1993). Mobs armed with swords and choppers attacked persons of rival community. There was also an attack on the police who tried to intervene. The police fired 37 rounds to disperse the mobs. A violent Hindu mob damaged Chacha Nagar Masjid. Police firing resulted in death of three Hindus and one Muslim and injuries to eight Hindus and one Christian. One Hindu and two Muslims were injured in mob violence. Eighteen Hindus and one Christian have been arrested and charge–sheeted.

14.29 On 8th January 1993 at about 2320 hours there was a riot once again in Shankarwadi, Pascal colony, Ramgad and Sitawadi (C.R.No.20 of 1993). Aslam garage, situated on the way to Shankarwadi was set on fire. The police resorted to fire to disperse the clashing mobs. Police firing resulted in two Muslims dying and one Hindu and four Muslims being injured. Two Muslims and one Hindu were injured in mob violence. Several Muslim witnesses state in their statements that they were injured in the police firing, but there is nothing on record to show that the injured or dead persons were taking part in the riots. There is also no effort made by investigating officers to find out the truth otherwise of these versions, forcing the Senior Police Inspector to concede that, in the absence of anything to the contrary, the versions of these witnesses will have to be accepted as correct. One Fatima Begum Yasin Hassan and one Sheikh Mohd. Asgar Gulam Sagbir had identified the local corporator Solanki as one of the miscreants, responsible for attack on and arson of Aslam Garage. Sheikh Mohd. Asgar Gulam Sagbir had clearly indicated that a white Maruti car used for committing the offence was owned by local corporator Solanki. The police appear to have proceeded against Solanki with much reluctance, and after long delay.

14.30 On 9th January 1993 at about 1200 hours a morcha of about 10,000-15,000 led by the local Bharatiya Janata Party M.P., Shri Ram Naik, local Shiv Sena M.L.As. Shri Anna Dange, Shri Ramesh More and Shri Gajanan Kirtikar, marched to the police station protesting that the police were taking action only against Hindus and demanding release of Hindu accused arrested in the riots (C.R.No.21 of 1993). While the morcha was still stationed outside the police station, Additional Commissioner of Police, North Region, A.A. Khan, arrived at the spot, and finding his way barred by a restive mob, resorted to lathi charge to disperse the mob. The dispersing mob indulged in damage and looting of property, arson and stone throwing at police and others. The violent Hindu mob then regrouped at Income Tax colony and burnt alive one Muslim woman and stabbed and burn alive a Muslim boy in P.P. Dias Compound. Large number of Muslim properties were damaged and set on fire. The mob also damaged the Ismail Yusuf College Masjid. The police firing resulted in one Hindu being injured. Three Muslims died and one Muslim was injured in mob violence.

14.31 Four incidents of attacks on individuals took place on 10th January 1993 at different places in which three Muslims and one Hindu were injured and one Muslim died and his body was thrown in a nullah at Gandhi Nagar (C.R.Nos.23, 24, 25 and 26 of 1993). The accused have been arrested in all the three cases and the cases are pending against them.

14.32 On 10th January 1993 at about 1430 hours there were again violent clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs of 200–300 from Shankarwadi, Kosharwadi and P.P. Dias compound (C.R.No.27 of 1993). The rioters freely indulged in damaging, ransacking, looting and arson of establishments. Police resorted to firing to control the violent mobs by firing twelve rounds. Eight Hindus, 17 Muslims and one Christian have been arrested and proceeded against.

14.33 On 11th January 1993 at about 0200 hours an armed mob, presumably of Hindus, assembled near Tahera Compound, a Muslim locality, and attacked the houses in the vicinity by throwing stones, soda–water bottles, petrol bombs and acid bulbs (C.R.No.28 of 1993). This brought forth violent retaliation from a Muslim mob and the police had to resort to firing which resulted in death of one Hindu. Twenty five Muslim accused have been arrested and charge–sheeted in this case.

14.34 On 11th January 1993 at about 0730 hours one Muslim was assaulted by unknown persons with chopper (C.R.No.29 of 1993). Two Hindus have been arrested and charge-sheeted.

14.35 On 13th January 1993 there was relaxation of curfew from 0600 hours. At about 1000 hours a mob of Hindus armed with weapons gathered near Rajaram Garden and assaulted Muslims with swords, choppers and iron rods. Hindu mobs of this nature played hide–and–seek with police and kept assaulting Muslims and damaging their property in the vicinity. When the mob tried to assault a Muslim passenger in a rickshaw, police fired two rounds to disperse the mob. The mob again regrouped in Bandrekarwadi and continued the violent activity. Three Hindu miscreants have been arrested and charge–sheeted (C.R.No.31 of 1993).

14.36 A report was made on 23rd January 1993 at about 1030 hours that on 19th January 1993 there was an assault on a Muslim with stones near the MHADA building (C.R.No.35 of 1993). This case has been classified in "A" summary.

14.37 On 30th January 1993 there was a report of a Muslim resident of Versova that he had been assaulted at Natwar Nagar after ascertaining his identity (.C.R.No.41 of 1993). This case has been classified in "A" summary.

14.38 On 6th February 1993 a Mahaarti was organized and held at Hanuman Mandir, Gumpha Road, by the activists of Shiv Sena who held a meeting in front of Hanuman Mandir after the Mahaarti and committed breach of prohibitory orders (C.R.No.46 of 1993). Five of the organisers have been arrested and charge–sheeted.

14.39 Though the situation calmed down from 14th January 1993 there were minor/stray incidents. By and large area was heading towards normalcy. Army column was regularly carrying out flag marches within this area, but there does not appear to be any situation which was dealt with by the army. The efforts of police and sane minded citizens slowly helped in establishing peace, if not neighbourly love, in this cauldron of communal hatred.

14.40 Senior Police Inspector states that in none of the riot–related cases registered in December 1992 and January 1993 was any fire–arm or explosive of the type used in the Bombay blasts case used or seized. None of the accused in the bomb–blasts case was resident of or active in this area.

14.41 Senior Police Inspector was subjected to lengthy cross–examination by the learned counsel for Shiv Sena with reference to various news reports, but he did not accept the correctness of the suggestions contained therein except stating that those reports generally supported the stand taken by Hindus with regard to the genesis of the riots.

14.42 In this area also the Commission noticed marked reluctance on the part of police to admit the presence of Hindu mobs during violent clashes and admissions had to be extracted under stress of cross–examination.

14.43 The Muslim public witnesses examined before the Commission squarely blamed the Shiv Sena and Shiv Sainiks for the communal trouble. They asserted that the rampaging mobs were shouting slogans like, "Har–Har Mahadev" and consisted of local Shiv Sainiks.
14.44 There is the curious case of one Muslim Mohd. Asgar Gulam Sagbir (Witness No.473), who in his evidence given on the first day clearly identified the Hindu miscreants and also the police officers who had misbehaved. But on the next day of his cross–examination he appeared to have a change of his heart. In the name of Prophet Mohammad, in whose teachings he professed unflinching faith, he requested permission to withdraw his affidavit as he felt that trading of charges between Hindus and Muslims would only aggravate the tenuous communal relations between Hindus and Muslims. He was permitted to withdraw the affidavit.

14.45 The Muslim witnesses have uniformly blamed the police for inaction and partisan approach. They have also blamed them for their brutal and inhuman conduct like breaking open into houses, dragging suspects out by their hair and repeatedly assaulting them with lathis and showing scant regard to human rights. Mehmooda Banu Mukhtar Ahmed (Witness No.478) blames one ‘fat, dark complexioned police officer with big nose, named Bhambre’ for this type of conduct. An officer by name Assistant Police Inspector Bhambre was attached to the police station at the relevant time. The Commission also noticed that this witness had been detained in custody by police for a period exceeding three days without being produced before the Magistrate. According to the police lock–up records, she was arrested on 8th January 1993 at 0030 hours but the columns pertaining to the date and time of release of the accused, signature of the officer making entries, disposition of the articles recovered during search, and the signature of the person from whom they were recovered, were totally blank. Though the signature of this witness is taken in the Lock-up Register it is undated. There is no corresponding Station Diary entry at all. In the view of the Commission, Lock–up Register No.2 (Ex.3225–C) cannot be relied upon and there is no reason not to believe the witness when she says that she was detained in police lock–up for three days, which is gross violation of her constitutional and legal rights. Despite a direction by the Commission to the police to file the reply of the concerned officers within a period of one week, it has not been done. The Commission is of the view that in this case there was violation of the constitutional rights of Mehmooda Banu Mukhtar Ahmed, an accused arrested in C.R.No.14 of 1993.

14.46 The Muslim witnesses also generally complained that, whenever there was a clash between Hindu and Muslim mobs, the police fired only towards the Muslims and protected the Hindus.

14.47 The Hindu witnesses uniformly stated that their houses were attacked by miscreants with black masks who were wielding swords and shouting that Hindus,‘Kafirs’ and their property should be destroyed and burnt. Some of the Hindu witnesses complained of damage to their properties and about non–receipt of compensation. According to Sushila Pandit (Witness No.489), active worker of Mahila Aghadi of Shiv Sena, the attack on her house was engineered by one Moomane, a Muslim lady who was running an illegal liquor joint and with whom she had a dispute with regard to her tenement which led to her tenement being sealed by the authorities. She also complained that when she went to police to complain, Officer Vijay Patil rudely told her that all the trouble was created by Maharashtrians who deserved to be bombed. She appears to have been actively assisted by the Shiv Sena activists to voice her grievance through her affidavit.

14.48 There is the affidavit of Rev. Father Joseph Thomas D’Souza (Witness No.479) which suggests that in the morning of 7th December 1992 a group of people barged into his room demanding closure of the school of which he is the principal. Later on he had seen a number of boys from Shankarwadi (Hindus) rushing towards Koliwada area (Muslim dominated area) throwing stones towards Koliwada. He had also seen an assailant wearing a lungi and a turban, who appeared to be a Muslim, madly stabbing people on the Western Express Highway on 14th December 1992. He also says that a group of people who were masked came down from the highway, went towards Ramgadh and attacked Ramgadh, a slum predominantly occupied by Muslims. The first attack on Ramgadh took place between 2200 to 2230 hours on 8th January 1993; second attack took place at 0400 hours on 9th January 1993 and the third at 0600 hours on the same day. He gave shelter to a large number of women and children who were scared because of the attacks. He also complained that his repeated attempts to contact the police station were in vain, as the person at the other end would neither understand what he said, nor put him on to any responsible officer.

14.49 A non–Government Organisation called "Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action" (YUVA) forwarded a publication by it styled, "Planned Segregation — Riots, Evictions and Dispossession in Jogeshwari (East) Mumbai", co–authored by Miloon Kothari and Nasreen Contractor. This appears to be a study of the causes for communal riots resulting in dispossession of people and historical reasons thereof in Jogeshwari (East) over the last 20 years. Minal Vasudev Pimpale (Witness No.491), Executive Director of YUVA, appeared before the Commission and gave evidence to support the conclusions drawn in the report published by them. Despite attempts made by the police, Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party, to discount the value of the report by imputing that YUVA was funded by Muslim countries or by Muslims and leftists, the Commission is not satisfied about these alleged discounting factors. The Commission is of the view that the report of YUVA is certainly a valuable document for understanding the historical genesis and the contributory factors which have caused repeated communal riots in Jogeshwari (East). Considering that it was a study of about 158 dishoused families (both Hindus and Muslims), out of which only 78 families responded to the questionnaire circulated by YUVA, the Commission feels that this report does not go too long a way in informing the Commission about the facts and circumstances connected with actual riots of December 1992 and January 1993, though it gives a historical perspective.

No comments:

Post a Comment