Unedited excerpt From Volume II, Chapter I of Justice BN Srikrishna Report, dated February 16, 1998, Mumbai
17.1 This area is considered as communally hyper–sensitive and has seen Hindu–Muslim communal riots in the past. This area has a population of about five lakhs out of which 30% to 40% are Muslims and the balance belong to other communities of which Hindus are predominant. Indira Nagar, Khadi Masjid area, Gafoor Khan Estate are predominantly lower middle class Muslim areas. Pipe Road, Fitwala Compound are predominantly Muslim localities. Maharashtra Chawl Committee area, Takya Ward, Bail Bazar and New Mill Road area are lower middle class Hindu dominated areas where Hindus of working class reside. Masrani Lane, CST Road, LIG Colony and MIG Colony have mixed population of Hindus and Muslims. The localities of Indira Nagar, Bharatiya Nagar, Fitwala Compound comprise hutments and chawls which do not have access roads.
17.2 The area extends from Sion Railway Station in the south all the way to Mukand Iron and Steel Company compound and lies between the Central Railway main line tracks and Mithi river on the western side. There are 13 masjids and 18 mandirs within this area.
17.3 It is the assessment of Senior Police Inspector Ramakant Vasudev Padwal (Witness No.394) that the manpower, equipment, arms and ammunition available at this police station were inadequate even under normal circumstances. He had addressed several letters to his superior officers asking for improvement on these issues but met with little success. About 30 to 40% out of the manpower available with Kurla police station used to be on continuous bandobust at the Kurla Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, office of the Additional Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Assistant Commissioner of Police and the office of the Bombay Municipal Corporation ‘L’ Ward. It is the assessment of the Senior Police Inspector that the arms and ammunition available with the police station were not adequate, both qualitatively and quantitatively, to handle the riot situations. Several areas do not have street lights. They also do not have motorable roads and policing them is almost an impossible task.
17.4 Padwal deposed that the .410 muskets supplied to the police station were ineffective; it was his experience that bullets fired from the muskets would not hit the targets and the mobs would continue to rush at police. According to him .303 rifles and SLRs are more effective in controlling violent mobs.
17.5 Though he claims to have obtained information from the members of the public from different areas who had seen communal riots in 1984, surprisingly he says that they had no information about communal organisations who were active during the December 1992 and January 1993 riots.
17.6 Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party, SIMI, Jamaat–E–Islam–E–Hind, Congress–I, VHP, RPI are active within this area.
17.7 The period from July to December 1992 saw VHP, Bharatiya Janata Party and other Hindutva parties organizing several meetings and chowk sabhas to carry on propaganda on the Babri Masjid–Ram Janambhoomi issue. According to Padwal, though he had periodically sent copies of Mill Diary quoting the speeches made by different speakers to the SB–I CID, H & M Branches, he received no directives to take any action.
17.8 The army columns had been requisitioned to carry out flag marching in this area on 8th, 9th and 21st December 1992.
17.9 The first communal incident in December 1992 occurred in this area on 7th December 1992 at about 1130 hours or so near Kurla BEST Bus Depot, Kalpana Cinema Junction and Pipe Road Kurla–west. A mob of about 1000–500 Muslims pelted stones on BEST buses near the Kurla Bus Depot and plying on the LBS Marg. There was also an attack on the Hanuman Mandir in the lane leading to Shivaji Kutir Mandal and the Hanuman Mandir was damaged and demolished. The attempts by the police to disperse the mobs led to pelting of stones at the police and firing by police (C.R.No.949 of 1992). There were also violent clashes between armed Hindu and Muslim mobs which are subject matters of C.R.Nos.950 and 951 of 1992.
17.10 In all, the police registered 64 cases during December 1992 out of which 36 pertained to rioting, 27 to assaults on individuals and one pertained to property damage. Thirty five cases were classified in "A" summary for want of clues to the identity of the miscreants and one case abated due to the death of the accused. In 28 cases the investigation by the police was fruitful and resulted in charge–sheets being filed against the accused.
17.11 During January 1993, 34 cases were registered by the police out of which the investigation in nine cases resulted in charge–sheets being filed against the accused and 25 were classified as "A" summary.
17.12 There were five cases of private firing reported in this area.
17.13 There was violent clash between a Hindu mob from Bhagwati Building and Muslim mobs from Anurag and Rupam Buildings. One Hindu was injured in private firing which was said to have been made from the direction of Rupam Building. One Mohd. Taher Mehboob Alam Khan had resorted to firing from a licensed revolver and his stand was that he had fired in self–defence because of the attack by the Hindu mob (C.R.No.952 of 1992).
17.14 In C.R.No.964 of 1992, while controlling violent confrontation between Hindu and Muslim mobs, police resorted to firing in all 74 rounds. Five Hindus received acid burns as a result of the acid–bulbs apparently thrown by the Muslims. The victims stated that the Muslims from Anurag Building were throwing acid–bulbs at them. One Kailash Madhukar Dhamdhere and a police constable, Ramesh Sakharam Pednekar, both stated that they had ‘learnt’ that one woman was indulging in private firing from Paswan Building and that she had been shot down by police. There seems to be no other credible material to support the theory of private firing. No combing operations were carried out, nor were fire–arms recovered.
17.15 In C.R.No.956 of 1992, private firing was noticed from the direction of Faiz, Bagwan and Sheetal Chandrika Buildings. The police carried out combing in those buildings as well as in the adjacent Rupam Building but no fire–arms were recovered.
17.16 In C.R.No.969 of 1992, one Hindu is said to have been injured in private firing. This incident occurred at Gafoor Khan Estate, Sambhaji Chowk. The incident was so serious that the police requisitioned the army column for help. Police Inspector Pawar and Assistant Commissioner of Police Karanje noticed private firing from miscreants from a lonely place located at higher altitude in Gafoor Khan Estate and opened fire to stop the private firing. An Assault Mobile which was present on the spot used long range weapons to fire at the miscreants who were indulging in private firing. Two Muslims died as a result of police firing. The message given by Kurla–I Mobile to the Control Room makes an interesting comment: "There is heavy firing opposite Kurla Apartment. I am taking necessary action. I am firing from the musket but the bullets are not able to reach ahead". This appears to be a case of private firing.
17.17 In C.R.No.983 of 1992, at about 2030 hours on 9th December 1992, there was an attack from the Muslim mobs from Bori Kabrastan area on the Hindu residences of Sandesh Nagar, Bail Bazar and retaliation by the Hindus. Police intervened and managed to push back Hindus but were attacked by the Muslim mobs in the bargain. Here also it is claimed that there was private firing made at the police but the material on record is ambiguous.
17.18 This area has seen its share of individual assaults and stabbing after ascertaining the communal identity. In most of such cases the accused were not identified and the cases were classified in "A" summary.
17.19 A Muslim on his way from Kazi Nagar to Vinoba Bhave Nagar was stabbed on 8th January 1993 at about 1400 hours and this case was classified in "A" summary (C.R.No.14 of 1993). One Ulhas Dhamdhere was arrested on 29th December 1993 in connection with some other offence and on information given by him it was revealed that he and another notorious criminal of the locality, Mukesh Salunkhe, were involved in the attack. Ulhas has been charge–sheeted but Salunkhe is said to be not traceable.
17.20 In C.R.No.15 of 1993, one Hindu was stabbed to death. Surprisingly, in this case six Hindus were identified as miscreants and five of them have been arrested and charge–sheeted. The case diary reveals that Sanjeev Pandit Patil and Kailash Laxman Kamble, two of the accused, were brought to the police station and handed over to the police by the local Shiv Sena activists. The murder of the Hindu victim appears to have resulted from his reluctance to identify himself and the erroneous assumption of the attackers that he was a Muslim.
17.21 In C.R.Nos.1 and 12 of 1993, the assaults on the Muslim victims were made by Hindu miscreants who were dispersing from the Mahaartis.
17.22 In C.R.No.1029 of 1992, one Muslim was assaulted on 31st December 1992 at 0905 hours at Baburao More Chowk, Sarveshwar Mandir Marg, near the public toilet. One Mohd. Ijaz Tayyab Ansari, a rickshaw driver, who is an eye–witness has identified the assailant as the local Shiv Sena activist who was always seen hanging around the area. Investigating officer also says that the area in which the offence took place is dominated by Hindus and Shiv Sena has a stronghold and that it is only after he guaranteed personal security that the rickshaw driver identified the assailant who has now been charge–sheeted.
17.23 In another incident of assault (C.R. No.1030 of 1992), the assailants were identified and also admitted the fact of assault during interrogation. Four Hindus have been charge–sheeted in this connection.
17.24 There were two cases where the police raided certain premises and recovered huge stock of soda–water bottles, stones, tubelights, Molotov cocktails. In LAC No.2632 of 1992, they recovered offensive material from the terrace of Bhagwati Building. Police also recovered one gunny bag full of glass bottles, 24 soda–water bottles, two iron bars, 12 tubelights from the W.C. and Electric Meter Box of the chawls known as Sairabanu Dudhwala Chawl, Abul Khan Chawl and Umarbhai Chawl on 30th December 1992 (C.R.No.1026 of 1992).
17.25 A peculiar feature of investigations in this area appears to be that in several cases involving assaults on Muslims and their properties, the investigating officers have directed the investigative inquiries to the local Shiv Sena leaders like Sarate Master and Kisan Baba Madane. Local Shiv Sena MLA Suryakant Mahadik also appears to have been instrumental in bringing a few accused to the police station and making them surrender before the police.
17.26 In C.R.No.971 of 1992, one Kalam Hussain Vaju Alla Ansari was found making communally instigative speeches and has been charged under section 153(A) and 153(B) (2) of the IPC. In another case, an Urdu pamphlet containing communally inflammatory material was seized from the precincts of a masjid on Pipe Road on 8th January 1993 at 1300 hours (C.R.No.64 of 1993). A poster, communally inciting Hindus against Muslims was seized from Taximen’s Colony on LBS Marg on 21st January 1993 (C.R.No.68 of 1993). Interestingly, though no one has been arrested, police made inquiries from Vilas Vasant Bhanushali, Bharat Khavnekar, Yeshwant Atmaram Khambekar, all local Shiv Sena activists, with regard to the poster. Urdu pamphlets containing inflammatory material were seized near the Sonapur Lane Masjid on 18th January 1993 at 1300 hours (C.R.No.71 of 1993).
17.27 There were a number of cases in which the properties of Muslims and Hindus, who had locked their houses and moved away, were broken open, ransacked and subjected arson. Some of the cases have been classified as "A" summary while in some cases miscreants have been identified, arrested and charge–sheeted.
17.28 The office of one Muslim by name Mantri Construction on the ground floor of Mayfair building was subjected to arson. A group of 20–25 boys of Shiv Sena residing in Saidham Apartment, situated opposite the auto garage of one Sukhdeo Singh Gurudev Gill, charged towards the office of Mantri Construction carrying a plastic can and a plastic pipe. The miscreants poured petrol or kerosene or some inflammatory material into the office by using the said pipe and set the office on fire. The fire from the arson of Mantri Construction was so big that it affected the premises of one Crasto residing on the first floor of the said building who complained to the police. The owner of Mantri Construction, Pheroz Z. Mantri, was not present in the premises at the material time and the office was locked (C.R.No.987 of 1992). Though this case was initially classified in ‘A’ summary by the police, Mantri made repeated representations to the higher police officers, Chief Minister and Home Minister. The fact that he was a local politician helped him in putting pressure on the government and police as a result of which the case was reopened, proper investigations were carried out and the statement of Sukhdev Singh was recorded. Interestingly, on 17th January 1993 the wanted accused were brought to the police station by Shiv Sena MLA Suryakant Mahadik. The accused were arrested and subsequently charge–sheeted. Both, police and Pheroz Mantri, appeared to be agreed that his office was set on fire because of communal reasons and not because of political or business rivalry. In fact, the accused who were arrested stated that because they had learnt that there was private firing from his office they had decided to set fire to his office. As a matter of fact, there is no material on record to indicate any incident of private firing from the office of Mantri Construction. It would appear that someone with vested interests had set afloat strong rumours with a view to incite the communal passions of local Hindus.
17.29 One Haji Abdul Razaq Khan gave evidence before the Commission. He is an educated person formerly employed as Assistant Chief Ticket Inspector in Central Railways, presently practicing as an advocate in the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals and also was S.E.M. at the material time. He was also a member of the Peace Committee. He was called to attend the meeting of Peace Committee on 29th December 1992 and arrested by police by making out a false case against him. He has described the incident of attack on Aba Gani Chawl on 7th December 1992 at 1100 hours by the Hindu mob which consisted mostly of Shiv Sainiks. He positively identifies the miscreants as Shiv Sainiks because they were giving slogans like, "Jai Bhavani", "Jai Shivaji" and "Shiv Sena Zindabad". Being a long–time resident of the area he knew most of the people at least by face. He has specifically identified the Shiv Sena Vibhag Pramukh, Bhau Korgaonkar, ex–Municipal Councillor Vilas Bhanushali and one person by name Sanas, all active Shiv Sainiks, as being in the forefront of the attacking mob.
According to him, the mob was systematically breaking open, looting and ransacking the houses of Muslims as well as Hindus and his appeals to the police picket situated about 200 meters away, elicited the reply that they were under strict instructions not to move from their place. He telephoned to the Control Room and got vague replies. He has also deposed about how he went to Halai Memon Masjid, took shelter there for sometime and when returning home he saw police firing from the Shriram Building, Brahmanwadi towards Muslim basties on the Pipe Road. He has named the officer on the terrace of the Shriram building, as Police Inspector Sabe, very well known to him, who waved at him, instructed the constables not to fire at him, came down and talked to him. Witness complains that despite instructions to the contrary, the constables continued to fire and two Muslims were injured. He has named Arifoo Lala and Khopdi as the miscreants in the Muslim mobs while Nandu (Anand), Harya (Harish) and Kulkarni (Kalokali) were the Hindu miscreants.
17.30 From amongst the accused in the Bombay bomb blasts case, the accused by name Sardar Shahwali Khan (at Sr.No.84), Feroz Abdul Rashid (at Sr.No.96), Mansur Ahmed Sayyed Ahmed (at Sr.No.141) and Mohd. Dawood Mohd. Yusuf Khan (at Sr.No.144) were residents of this area.