Thursday, 13 December 2012

Kherwadi Police Station

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

16.1 This jurisdictional area extends over 2.5 square k.m. area and the population of this area at the material time was about 1.62 lakhs. Though the majority of residents of this area are Hindus, there are identified Muslim pockets like Bharat Nagar which itself accommodates about 42,000 Muslims. A creek runs north–south in this area, dividing it into two district parts. On the eastern side of the creek are situated Bharat Nagar, a predominantly Muslim area, and Tata Colony and P.M.G. colony, which are mixed localities. Between Bharat Nagar and the creek is situated a colony called Walmiki Nagar which is predominantly a Hindu colony.

16.2 Bharat Nagar houses seven Urdu schools and consists of chawl-type hutments in a congested area criss–crossed by lanes and bye–lanes. On the western side of the creek are located the Government Colony, Maharashtra Housing Board Colony and Middle Income Group Colony, adjoining which there are some hutments. This area also accommodates one Hanuman Mandir, one Saibaba Mandir, one Dnyaneshwar Mandir and one Shrikrishna Mandir which were the sites of Mahaartis. The residents in the vicinity of these mandirs are predominantly Hindus. There is also a Gurudwara situated in this area.

16.3 On 7th December 1992 reacting to the news of demolition of Babri Masjid on 6th December 1992 at Ayodhya, Muslim youths went around forcing a bandh in the Bharat Nagar area. Although most of the shopkeepers there are Muslims, a crowd of Muslim youths went around forcing them to close down the shops. What started as a peacefully persuading crowd, soon turned into a violent mob when the youths saw the police. The mob started pelting stones at BEST buses. The police attempting to intervene were also attacked by stones by the unruly mob. All along the Bharat Nagar Road from Walmiki Nagar upto Tata Colony, large number of Muslims collected on the main road as well as in the lanes intersecting the main road. Police jeep of the Senior Police Inspector which was attempting to cross over the bridge and move along the Bharat Nagar Road was also subjected to stone throwing as a result of which its wind shield was shattered though covered with an iron grill. The police chowky in this area was surrounded by a large unruly mob. Attempts of the police to disperse the unruly and violent mob did not succeed and the mob kept up its violent acts, shouting slogans, "Nara–e–Takbir, Allah–o–Akbar" and "Babri Masjid ka badla lenge". The stone throwing resulted in serious injuries to Sub–Inspector Nanaware, Assistant Sub–Inspector Kamble and one Head Constable–4280. Police resorted to firing and started dispersing the mob. In the meanwhile, another mob attacked the police chowky, smashed the furniture inside and set on fire a BEST bus which had been immobilized and was standing in front of Bharat Nagar Police chowky. Another police officer Sub–Inspector Desai who was riding on his motorcycle and coming to Bharat Nagar police chowky was forced to alight by the violent mob, his motorcycle was set on fire and he was subjected to heavy stone throwing resulting in serious injuries to him. The rioting mob placed obstacles on the road to obstruct the police vehicles going to Bharat Nagar Police Chowky along the Bharat Nagar Road. Some of the taxis, buses and vehicles were also damaged. One motor truck on Bandra–Kurla complex road and a bulldozer parked in the vicinity were also set on fire.

The fury of the mob continued unabated for quite some time and resulted in about 20 police officers and men being injured in the mob action. Police fired in all 128 (46 from revolvers, 65 from .410 muskets and 17 from sten–gun). In addition, police also exploded 17 teargas shells to control the situation. The riotous acts were going on continuously from about 0900 hours to 1230 hours on that day. Six of the Muslim rioters were arrested and charge–sheeted. All the six accused had received bullet injuries. Seven BEST buses were damaged during the incident. A curfew was imposed in this area, which continued upto 31st January 1993. Two Muslims died as a result of police firing in this incident (C.R.No.327 of 1992) and eight Muslims were injured in the police firing. In all, 11 vehicles, including a bulldozer, and the Bharat Nagar Police Chowky, were set on fire. The office of Bastiwala, local corporator, was severely damaged and the total loss was estimated to about Rs.7.66 lakhs.

16.4 Though this area had seen serious rioting followed by police firing on 7th December 1992, trouble seems to have again erupted on 8th December 1992 at about 1100 hours. Large violent Muslim mobs attacked chawls of Hindu residential area, Walmiki Nagar, and went on a rampage. Once again there was a pitched battle between the police and the violent mobs. The mobs were so violent and bent upon destruction, at whatever cost, is evident from their slogan, "Maro police ko, Islam ke liye shahid ho jao". Apart from stones, brick–bats, police were also showered with Molotov cocktails and fire balls. It is claimed by police officer Arun Prabhakar (C.R.No.331 of 1992) that he had heard the sound of private firing from the direction of the mob. One wireless van standing on the road was also set on fire. Ten Muslims died in the police firing. Forty nine houses and shops, out of which 47 belonged to Hindus and two belonged to Muslims, were damaged by the riotous mobs causing extensive loss. Twenty four Muslims were injured in the police firing. Surprisingly, in this incident no police personnel was injured. Twelve Muslim accused were arrested, charge–sheeted and are standing trial.

16.5 On the same day, i.e. 8th December 1992, the Hindus went on a rampage in the Hindu dominated localities. Twenty three shops (20 of Muslims and three of Hindus) were subjected to ransacking, looting and arson in the new shopping centre in the Government Colony area. Samrat Bakery and Rajdhani Bakery, both owned by Muslims, were set on fire and completely destroyed. Though most of the Muslim shops, except one or two, carried name plates from which it would have been impossible to deduce the identity of the owners, they were attacked and this indicates that this was a systematic attack on the Muslim shops, perhaps by way of retaliation to what transpired elsewhere. In this case (C.R.No.332 of 1992) seven Hindu accused were arrested and stolen property worth Rs.1.3 lakhs was recovered from them.

16.6 On 9th December 1992 at about 2230 hours a Muslim’s grocery shop was looted at Siddharth Nagar, Bandra–east.

16.7 On 11th December 1992 at about 0830 hours one Zakir Khan was assaulted in Bandra east by unknown assailants.

16.8 The army was called for flag–march on 9th December 1992 which it carried out everyday thereafter. It is the perception of Senior Police Inspector Bansi Vishwanath Andhale that the flag–marches during December 1992 did not have any perceptible effect on the people of the area.

16.9 In January 1993 the first communal incident here took place with the murder of an unknown person with multiple stab injuries whose body was thrown in the creek and recovered on 6th January 1993 at about 1130 hours. On 7th January 1993 at about 2230 hours one Hindu, Pokarram Fauramji, was found stabbed to death in his grocery shop at Tata Colony, Bharat Nagar.

16.10 On 9th January 1993 a Muslim student walking along the road in front of Chetana College was stabbed at about 1230 hours.

16.11 On 10th January 1993 at about 1100 hours one Muslim, Salim Sardar Sheikh, was found lying on Ali Yavar Jung Marg with stab injuries and was declared dead before admission to the hospital.

16.12 During the night of 10th/11th January 1993 some of the stalls of Muslims near Kala Nagar junction were set on fire.

16.13 At about 1400 hours on 12th January 1993 a rickshaw driver, Akbar Madar Sheikh, who had gone to ply his trade was found stabbed near Government Colony and his rickshaw was found damaged.

16.14 On 12th January 2993 at about 2300 hours two Muslim women, Smt. Salma Mushtaq Khan and Smt. Hansanabai Mohd. Idris Khan, were stabbed in their house in Subhash Nagar. In another incident, one Muslim Riyaz Khan Ibrahim Bilal was also stabbed.

16.15 During the night of 12th/13th January 1993 some of the Muslim shops in the Government Colony area were set on fire.

16.16 On 13th January 1993 one Abdul Razaq Ismail, who was proceeding in a rickshaw on Western Express Highway, was attacked near Kherwadi junction and was assaulted.

16.17 On 13th January 1993 the Muslim occupants of Chaitali Co–operative Housing Society, who had locked their houses and ran away, had their houses broken open, looted, and ransacked.

16.18 On 14th January 1993 at about 1000 hours a complaint was lodged that on the night of 12th/13th January 1993 the houses of three Hindus, Jethalal Bechar, Tarabai Mane and Pradeep Naik, in Tata Colony, Bharat Nagar, were broken open and looted and ransacked. One Muslim accused has been arrested and a part of the stolen property is recovered from him.

16.19 On 14th January 1993 at about 1300 hours a rickshaw driven by a Hindu, Chandrakant S.Lanaji, was set ablaze after assaulting the driver on the Bandra–Kurla complex road.

16.20 On 15th January 1993 at about 1145 hours two Hindus, Ravindra G. Pawar and Shivaji L. Pawar, were assaulted by Muslims on the Tata Colony Road.

16.21 On 15th January 1993 at 1750 hours one person was discovered in a gutter with his clothes burning near the BEST route Nos.314 and 315 terminus. Subsequently, another burnt body was found in the close vicinity of the same spot. Both victims were Muslims who were coming by taxi to Bharat Nagar and were attacked by a mob of 20–25 Hindus who pulled out the victims and attacked them and set them on fire.

16.22 On 15th January 1993 another dead body was recovered from the marshy land opposite Building No.316, Government Colony. This was identified to be a body of Barkat Ulla Moti Ulla Khan.

16.23 On 22nd January 1993 at about 1230 hours one Mohd. Ayub Mohd. Abbas Sheikh was stabbed near the Drive–in Theater, Bandra east.

16.24 On 29th January 1993 at 1500 hours a complaint was lodged by the residents of Motorwali Chawl, Siddharth Nagar, Saibaba Nagar, Bandra East, that their locked houses were broken open and looted between 14th January 1993 to 21st January 1993.

16.25 On 13th February 1993 at about 1530 hours a complaint was lodged that between 7th January 1993 to 21st January 1993, five locked houses in Sant Dnyaneshwar Nagar were broken open and valuable household articles were looted.

16.26 On 18th February 1993 at about 1430 hours a complaint was lodged by a Muslim, Abdul Karim Hussain Momin, that his vehicle parked opposite Sadanand Hotel, Subhash Nagar, Bandra east, had been set on fire and damaged.

16.27 When the Muslim shops in the New Shopping complex were set on fire, a message was sent to the Fire Brigade and the Fire Brigade reported that unless they were given complete police protection the personnel were unwilling to come. Samrat Bakery, which was burnt down completely, was situated at about 100–150 feet away from the Kherwadi Police Station. On that day there was a bandobust picket posted near Building No.6 and 7 directly opposite Samrat Bakery. The only alert work done by the bandobust picket was that they noticed the fire after the bakeries were set ablaze only after seeing thick smoke emanating and informed the Fire Brigade.

16.28 Even on 8th December 1992 there was attack on Muslim establishments, particularly in New Shopping complex area, while there was no incident of any attack on any Hindu houses in Bharat Nagar area during the entire month of December 1992.

16.29 The huge fire in the New Shopping complex caused damage to the tune of about Rs.60 lakhs. The police came to the spot while the miscreants carried on their activity, but appeared to have fired only four rounds and the explanation is that there was no need to fire more rounds as the mobs dispersed after firing of four rounds. The records of the FIR show that the police came on the scene, warned the mob which was indulging in breaking open, damaging and looting the shops, the mob did not obey the orders of the police but started throwing stones at the police and it was at that time police decided to fire four rounds. There is no explanation from Senior Police Inspector as to why the instructions of the Commissioner of Police to effect firing whenever the police came across instances of looting and damaging were not obeyed.

16.30 Though this police station had a Peace Committee, Ashok Shinde, Vibhag Pramukh of Shiv Sena, who was an accused in a riot–related case registered by Mahim Police Station, and Shri Madhukar Sarpotdar, MLA, who was an accused in a riot–related case registered by Nirmal Nagar Police Station, were members of this Peace Committee.

16.31 One significant fact is noticed by the Commission in Mill Diary Entry (Ex.256-C Collectively) dated 27th December 1992. On that day, the Hindus led by the local leaders of Shiv Sena, had taken out a procession for reinstallation of a Ganesh Murti in the Mandir on A.K. Marg. This procession passed through the Kherwadi Police Station area carrying placards on which it was written, alia, "Shiv Senechi Dahashat, hich sarvajanik surakshitata (Shiv Sena’s terror is public safety)". Although the original word "Dahashat" (terror) was clearly mentioned in the Mill Diary Entry, the police tried to underplay it by overwriting "Darshan" on the word "Dahashat". That there is clear attempt to play down the word "Dahashat" (terror), and substitute it with the neutral word "Darshan" (sight), is obvious from the fact that the qualifying word "Shivsenechi" is still in the feminine gender and not in neuter gender which would have been appropriate to qualify the neuter gender noun "Darshan".

Since the procession passed through and terminated in the Nirmal Nagar Police Station’s jurisdiction, it is also the subject matter of an entry in the Mill Diary Entry maintained by Nirmal Nagar Police Station. A cross reference to the Mill Diary Entry dated 27th December 1992 in the Nirmal Nagar Police Station (Exh.2282–C) clearly bears out that the word used in the placard was "Dahashat" and not "Darshan". Fortunately, the Nirmal Nagar Police Station’s Mill Diary has not been tampered with. It would therefore, appear that the Shiv Sena honestly believed that the only way to assure the citizens of their safety and security was creating its own terror against the Muslims. Despite the crude attempt at watering down the effect of the incendiary material contained in the banner carried by the processionists, the message was clear. If there was doubt, contents of other banners dispel it. They gave calls for a battle by the Hindu Sena and declared that if any one dared to cross the path of the raging ocean of Hindus, Hindus should straight come onto the battle field, by invoking the names of several national leaders including Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. That, this has been done in a procession taken out to install Ganesh Murty in the mandir on A.K. Marg in the adjacent jurisdictional area, when religious passions of Hindus were already at a high peak, clearly indicates the game plan of the local Shiv Sena leaders.

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