Thursday, 13 December 2012

Kalachowky Police Station

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

15.1 This is also a Hindu majority area with a few Muslim pockets. Shiv Sena has great hold in this area. Apart from Bharatiya Janata Party, Shiv Sena, Kamgar Aghadi and Communist Parties, there are no other political parties active in this area. There is no known Muslim organisation, nor noticeable activity of Muslim activists or sympathizers in this area. Criminal gangs of Arun Gawli and Amar Naik are active in this area, indulging in acts of extortion of money and so on.

15.2 During December 1992 the first incident of communal violence took place on 9th December 1992 which consisted of arson of a motor lorry belonging to a Muslim which was parked within Kalewadi Compound. During January 1993 the first incident of communal violence took place on 8th January 1993 when a Muslim walking towards his residence in Abhyudaya Nagar after his afternoon prayers was attacked by Hindu boys and killed purely because of communal hatred.

15.3 Abhyudaya Nagar is a colony of Housing Board tenements in which the overwhelming residents are Hindus and only a handful are Muslims. Bombay Dock Labour Board (BDLB) colony on Shrikant Hadkar Marg is a colony of Dock workers in which majority of the residents are Muslims and the Hindu residents are only 25 to 30%. This colony has a Shankar temple as well as a Mosque within the premises.

15.4 During December 1992 four incidents took place in which the victims were Muslims. On 9th December 1992 a motor truck belonging to a Muslim was burnt in Kalewadi, G.D. Ambekar Marg. On 10th December 1992 a scooter belonging to a Muslim was burnt in BEST quarters on Dr.S.S. Rao Road. On the same day a decorator’s godown belonging to a Muslim was ransacked and set on fire near the Veterinary Hospital on Dr. S.S. Rao Road and a gala in Amit Industrial Estate belonging to a Muslim was ransacked and damaged.

15.5 There is a big masjid by name Dhondpada Masjid within this area which was subjected to repeated attacks. That there was serious probability of threat to law and order from the Hindu community, was expected by the police, though they were caught by surprise, since they did not think that Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party would assume leadership of Hindu community and incite them to violence against Muslims. Senior Police Inspector admitted that the Shakha Pramukhs were accompanying violent mobs during different communal incidents and inciting the Hindu mobs.

15.6 Some of the major incidents which occurred in this area clearly bring out the fact that there was a secret meeting of the Shiv Sainiks to go on a rampage to ‘teach the Muslims a lesson’ for what had happened in other areas. The incidents which happened during December 1992 obviously happened even before the so–called Hindu backlash was unleashed.

15.7 In this jurisdictional area curfew was enforced from 2000 hours on 9th January 1993 and it lasted till 19th January 1993 with fixed hours of relaxation between 0600 to 0800 hours and 1700 to 2000 hours.

15.8 That the Mahaartis were adding to communal tension in the area and that the speeches delivered during these Mahaartis were not religious in their content had come to the notice of police, but no action in that connection was taken. In fact, Senior Police Inspector Balkrishna Yellappa Bastawadkar admits that the Mahaartis were intended for whipping up Hindu communal passions, though he lamely added that such a result did not come about in his area.

15.9 During the incidents which took place in January 1993 Hindu shops were rarely damaged and there were selective attacks on the Muslim establishments.

15.10 In the incident of attack on Dhondpada Masjid on 9th January 1999 at about 1100 hours (C.R.No.12 of 1993) a large number of Hindus, ranging from 12,000–14,000, went on a rampage and repeatedly attacked the masjid as well as the Muslims residing around the masjid. It is significant that the mobs were led by Bhai Shingre, Ramakant Rahate, Ravi Chavan, Shridhar Kadam and Anil Gaikwad, all local Shiv Sena leaders, who instigated the mobs to violence and were also giving slogans against Muslims. The police had harrowing times dealing with these mobs as the mobs led by them attacked Muslim residents in different localities and the masjid repeatedly, forcing the police to resort to repeated firing which resulted in three deaths and three injuries to Hindus. Another gruesome incident which took place at 1230 hours consisted of attack on Mohd. Vakil Alam. He was assaulted by a mob of Hindus and set ablaze by pouring kerosene, resulting in his death.

15.11 On 9th January 1993 a huge morcha of Shiv Sainiks marched to the Kalachowky police station demanding that the miscreants apprehended by police be released unconditionally. This morcha was also led by the local leaders of Shiv Sena and the morcha turned violent and pelted stones and soda–water bottles at the police station and had to be controlled by police firing. The mob damaged vehicles parked on road and ransacked all Muslim establishments on Shrikant Hadkar Marg, Abhyudaya Nagar and Barrister Nath Pai Marg. The shops of Muslims were broken open, articles were looted and some of the articles were dumped on the road and set on fire. Surprisingly, despite the tense atmosphere, and the near–war conditions which prevailed, the police meekly allowed a Mahaarti led by the local Shakha PramukhDeepak Shinde and other local leaders of Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party at Hanuman Temple at Shravan Yeshwante Chowk at 1900 hours.

15.12 In this area also the Hindus continuously spread rumours to the effect that Muslims were going to launch massive attack on Hindus. These rumours created a sense of insecurity in the minds of Hindus who organized themselves into self–defence groups, armed themselves and maintained vigil throughout nights.

15.13 Although the police have attempted to show that the riots which took place in the premises of BDLB Colony (C.R.No.15 of 1993) were entirely on account of Muslims led by Dilawar Khan, a notorious character from this area, their stand is belied. This colony is enclosed by a high compound and immediately abuts the Abhyudaya Colony. Some of the residents on the north–east side and north side had broken open the compound wall. The masjid/madrassa situated at north–west side was damaged, but the Shiv temple standing right in the middle of the BDLB Colony sustained no damage. Sudarshan Prasad, Pujari of the said Shiv temple, says that none of the miscreants had entered the temple, nor did any one cause damage. There was no crowd near the temple. Though the police had come inside the colony and carried out firing, nobody went to him and recorded his statement. According to him, though majority of the residents in BDLB Colony are Muslims, nobody troubled him nor was any damage caused to the temple for the last more than 25 years. Of the 39 properties damaged in C.R.No.15 of 1993, nine zopdies near Ghodapdev Junction belonged to Hindus and all the other properties belonged to Muslims of BDLB Colony and its vicinity. The evidence on record suggests that the police saw a large number of Muslims standing near the entrance of BDLB Colony and their enquiries elicited the information that Muslims were apprehending a Hindu attack and were maintaining vigil to repulse the attack. The pattern of damage to properties, the fact that the masjid/madrassa inside the BDLB Colony was damaged, and the fact that the Shiv temple in the middle of the BDLB Colony remained intact, suggest that there was an attack by Hindus and the Muslims tried to repulse it. However, out of 56 accused arrested in this case, 50 were Muslims and four were Hindu residents of BDLB Colony, while two others were outsiders. The only statements recorded in C.R.No.15 of 1993 belonged to police personnel. No statement of any Hindu or Muslim resident of BDLB Colony was recorded.

15.14 In this case, although there were 68 accused, only 56 were produced before the Magistrate and their cases have been committed to the Court of Sessions. However, in the case of 12 Hindu accused, they were not arrested and no case was filed. Senior Police Inspector admits that it was a serious mistake on the part of his office in not taking prompt action.

15.15 Though a photograph and a news item were published in Saamna on 27th December 1992 containing a report about the Mahaarti at Yeshwante Chowk held on 26th December 1992, in which it was claimed that the traffic had been totally dislocated, Senior Police Inspector maintained that there was absolutely no obstruction to the traffic. He says that Saamna might have reported the incident in an exaggerated way in order to show how great the organizers were.

15.16 On a number of occasions boards were displayed at various places by Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party openly preaching hatred against Muslims. Though these boards ex-facie appeared to have been put up by Shiv Sena, no follow–up action seems to have been taken by the police.

15.17 The Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Zone, Krishnalal Bishnoi, was himself attacked on 10th January 1993 by violent Hindu mobs and injured (C.R.No.17 of 1993) near the BEST Colony on Saibaba Road. However, he tried to underplay the role played by Shiv Sainiks in various incidents within the Kalachowky area. He maintained that, though police identified the individuals as persons who indulged in acts of violence, police could not ascertain whether the role played by those persons was in their individual capacity or as constituents of the organisations to which they belonged. A case of astute sophistry. He also attempted to brush away the fact that in a series of cases the accused arrested were Shiv Sainiks, who admitted to have been instigated by local Shiv Sena leaders to commit acts of violence against Muslims. Despite being confronted with the statement of accused (Ex.1758) in C.R.No.16 of 1993 that there was a secret meeting held by the Shiv Sainiks of Kalachowky area for the purpose of teaching a lesson to Muslims and that he was aware of the fact that during several violent incidents leading Shakha Pramukhs and local leaders of Shiv Sena were involved, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bishnoi, was at pains to say that, despite all this, he did not believe that there was any pattern in the communal violence in his zone, nor any organized attempt to do so. Either Deputy Commissioner of Police Bishnoi is wholly naive, or completely under political pressure, to deny the obvious.

He does not deny that the whole of his zone is a stronghold of Shiv Sena and most Hindus in his zone were supporters of Shiv Sena. The attempt at sanitizing the issue is brought out by his admission that his perception was based on the fact that there was nothing to indicate that Shiv Sena as an organisation had taken any stand, though it was possible that in some incidents of communal violence Shiv Sainiks and local Shakha Pramukhs were involved. (Daniel Adams would have been hard put make out a better defence!). He, however, admits that the mobs were from the area and unless the local Shiv Sena Shakha Pramukhs led them they were likely to lose credibility in the eyes of Hindu public and therefore they might have been forced to incite Hindus. If this was the perception of a senior trained police officer of the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police, the Commission finds it difficult to imagine what could have been the perception at lower levels. Perhaps this explains why the communal violence continued unabated in this area for almost 10 days.

15.18 Another significant fact which the Commission cannot but notice is the message from the Commissioner of Police addressed specifically to Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone–III, Bishnoi, on 11th January 1993. (Transcript of Cassette No. 53A, pages 7, 8 and 9). On 11th January 1993 the Control Room gave a message to all police officers that if there were any incidents of rioting, stabbing, stone throwing, looting, arson and if the army columns were present there, they should immediately hand over the situation to the army authorities. There was also a direct message from the Commissioner of Police to Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone III, Bishnoi, repeating the message and reiterating, "there should be no hesitation to hand over to the army. Again and again I am repeating this". This message was received and acknowledged by Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone III, Bishnoi. The Deputy Commissioner of Police of Zone III, Bishnoi, has no explanation to offer as to why this message is particularly addressed to him. His stand was that Commissioner of Police had not given any specific instructions to hand over the situation to army authorities, is patent prevarication. Commissioner’s message on the subject is clear enough. The stand that he did not feel the need to hand over the situation to the army authorities at any time, as the situation had been brought under control in his zone, does not hold water.

15.19 There is no doubt that the communal violence, arson, looting and incidents of attacks on the Muslim properties in this jurisdiction were engineered by Shiv Sena and Shiv Sainiks after their secret meeting in which it was decided to teach a lesson to Muslims. That the police pretend to be unaware of this only suggests that insufferable naivete or patent partisanship.

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