Thursday, 13 December 2012

Nagpada Police Station

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

22.1 Nagpada Police Station area is predominantly a Muslim area, though there are certain Hindu pockets in this area. There are also certain areas where there is mixed population of Hindus and Muslims and these are the most communally sensitive areas and have seen frequent communal riots.

22.2 Senior Police Inspector Pawar maintained that during both phases of riots the force at his disposal was inadequate and that this fact was brought to the notice of his superiors like Assistant Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police during regular discussions.

22.3 In the period July–December 1992 there was lot of activity by the Muslim organisations active in this area. Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Bombay Muslim Committee were quite active during this period. On 24th July 1992 an Urdu black board was displayed by SIMI which contained extremely provocative writing. During the period from 15th to 26th November 1992 the Muslim organisations from this area had organised meetings on the Ayodhya–Babri Masjid dispute.

22.4 On 2nd December 1992, the Bombay Muslim Committee, under the leadership of one Khalid Qureshi and attended by several Muslim workers such as Iqbal Qureshi, Shafi Mohd. Qureshi, Hassan Munshi, Taher Ashrafi, Sajid Qureshi and others, a meeting was held at Garib Nawaz Madrasa in Madanpura. This meeting had been specially called by public notices and for the purpose of deciding the stand of the Muslims, in view of the ensuing Kar Seva on 6th December 1992 and the apprehended danger to Babri Masjid. What transpired at this meeting is a matter of controversy. While the Muslims maintain that the only decision taken in this meeting was to fly black flags to protest of the Kar Seva on the Muslim establishments in the Muslim dominant areas on 5th December 1992, the police maintain that this was a closed–door meeting and the Mill Special Constable who tried to attend this meeting and obtain intelligence was spotted and asked to leave the meeting. One Mehmood Parvez Ansari, a teacher in the Nagpada jurisdiction, says that this meeting was held under the chairmanship of Abdul Aziz between 2200 hours to 2345 hours, as the Muslims generally had the feeling that despite the undertaking given by the Uttar Pradesh Government to the Supreme Court, the Babri Masjid was likely to be damaged, if not demolished. The meeting was called for determining the course of action for the Muslims if such a contingency arose. There were two decisions taken at this meeting. First, that the Muslims would fly black flags in the areas where they were in majority and second, that a protest telegram should be sent to the Prime Minister requesting him to ensure the safety and security of Babri Masjid by taking it in directly under his charge. Nothing more was discussed but another meeting was scheduled to be held on 7th December 1992 depending on what actually transpired at Ayodhya. A suggestion for calling for a bandh was made, which was ultimately rejected. Police Constable Pawar of Nagpada Police Station was present at the meeting. He was recognised and requested to leave the meeting. According to him, the meeting was not a secret one as the doors and windows were kept open and that the action committee’s object was to formulate the protest of the Muslims.

22.5 It would appear that the Nagpada police did not attach much significance to this meeting. Senior Police Inspector says that though he made attempts to obtain intelligence as to what actually transpired in the said meeting, he could not get such intelligence. Senior Police Inspector and Deshmukh, Additional Commissioner of Police, SB–I CID, corroborate the version given by Mehmood Parvez Ansari and say that according to the intelligence made available, a decision was taken in that meeting to fly black flags in the Muslim predominant areas.

22.6 On 11th, 13th and 18th December 1992 boards containing provocative writings were displayed and Urdu pamphlets containing provocative writings were distributed in the vicinity of Badi Masjid, Maulana Azad Road, Madanpura, immediately following the namaaz.

22.7 In December 1992, just before the riots commenced on 6th December 1992, the Senior Police Inspector had been cautioned by confidential source report by SB–I CID, about the black flag demonstrations by Muslims and also to be careful and watch the activists of Shiv Sena in view of their history of resorting to violence. The SB–I CID, had issued a confidential alert cautioning the Senior Police Inspector that there was likelihood of a Hindu backlash if the Muslims resorted to riots because of damage to Babri Masjid during Kar Seva.

22.8 Hindus, under the leadership of Bharatiya Janata Party and VHP, carried out Ghantanaad and symbolic Kar Sevas on 6th December 1992 to coincide the Kar Sevaat Ayodhya. Since this was done in the 8th Kamathipura lane, a predominantly Hindu area, the police did not apprehend any threat to communal peace. There was no immediate reaction in this area on 6th December 1992 and no untoward incident was reported.

22.9 On 7th December 1992 serious incidents started occurring in quick succession. From 0700 hours onwards, groups of Muslim youth started putting obstructions on Maulana Azad Road. The police had to clear the obstacles in order to carry on their patrolling. At 1030 hours the camera of a photographer was snatched at Maulana Azad Road. At about 1100 hours the police chowky at the junction of Maulana Shaukat Ali Road and Undria Road, known as Suleman Chowky, was attacked by a mob of Muslim miscreants. The violent mob ransacked the chowky and physically assaulted one Police Constable, Pandit Malhari Ahire. Some of the officers who were inside the chowky ran across and took shelter with Muslim residents in buildings opposite Suleman Chowky. Ahire was attacked with swords and choppers as a result of which he suffered injuries on his forehead, on his nose, on the left side of his neck and on his right index finger. According to Ahire the frenzied mob was about 500–600 strong and was carrying swords and choppers and the utterings of the people showed that they were bent upon taking revenge for damage to Babri Masjid. The mob appeared to be in a mood to finish off the victim, as the people in the mob were shouting that he should be killed. Ahire ran inside the chowky and tried to hide himself under the staircase, but the mob pulled him out and attacked him. At about the same time a huge Muslim mob of about 4,000–5,000 collected on Maulana Shaukat Ali Road and in the lanes and bye–lanes of the area. The mob went on damaging and destroying the vehicles and public property and indulged in indiscriminate stone throwing. Ahire’s life was saved by prompt action by Senior Police Inspector Pawar along with other officers who carried on firing to restore peace. In the melee one Police Constable, Bhosale, was hit on the head by a stone and got injured. The firing carried out on this occasion resulted in seven deaths and two injuries to Muslims.

22.10 On 7th December 1992 several other violent incidents took place. At 1215 hours there was an attack by Muslims on the Bombay Central Bus Depot as well as arson of to BEST Buses. Here again, a mob of about 400–500 Muslims was on rampage throwing stones and fire–balls at the BEST buses and the bus depot building. The police had to intervene and fire 19 rounds to bring the situation under control. This battle between the police and the miscreants was continuing for about four hours.

22.11 Violent mobs of Muslims indulged in stone throwing at vehicles and BEST buses on Maratha Mandir Road. The police dispersed the mobs by resorting to firing. On this occasion, 90 rounds were fired spread over about four to five hours, resulting in deaths of three Muslims and seven Hindus. Minor injuries were caused to police personnel during the stone throwing.

22.12 The Hindus were not way behind in jumping into the fray. At about 1730 hours a hotel known as Basera Hotel on R.S.Nimkar Road was attacked by a Hindu mob of about 2,000–3,000. This mob was on a rampage and systematically attacked Muslim establishments on this road. Police intervened and fired twenty round to restore normalcy. The mob also attacked Goodluck Restaurant belonging to a Muslim on the same road and set on five/six shops belonging to Muslims in the vicinity. The fire spread to an adjacent bakery resulting in the death of one Gangaram Sitaram Nayee who was burnt in the fire. The vehicles on the road were also smashed. Seventy–nine rounds were fired by police killing one person and injuring seven. Surprisingly, the person who was killed in the police firing was a Muslim, though it is not in dispute that the mob on rampage was a mob of Hindus. What is more surprising, is the low figure of casualties despite the police firing 79 rounds in this incident, some of which were fired from a sten–gun.

22.13 Violent activities like arson and looting were indulged in by a large Muslim mob of 4,000–5,000 on Duncan Road, Madanpura and Clair Road. The police fired about 64 rounds within a span of about eight to ten hours. On the same day there was an attack on a privately owned Vithal Mandir. This Vithal Mandir on 4th Peerkhan Street was attacked, the idols in the mandir were smashed; the residence and property of the Pujari on the premises were ransacked and damaged. Similarly there was an attack on the Kashi–Vishweshwar temple situated near BIT Chawl No.70, Nava Nagpada. A huge mob of Muslims armed with weapons broke open the temple door, trespassed into the temple, damaged the idol of Nandi and Shiv Ling inside the temple. The furniture and the wall clock in the temple was also damaged. The temple was attempted to be set on fire. The adjacent building No.70, occupied by Hindus, was also attempted to be set on fire by setting fire to the wooden electric meter box of the building. There was attack on Chhota Sonapur Chowky on 7th December 1992 at about 1430 hours. This attack resulted in damage to Chota Sonapur Chowky and the mob was dispersed by police by resorting to firing, though no casualties were reported.

22.14 A person, by name Mohd.Ibrahim Mohd.Hussain got killed in police firing, though he who was not a miscreant, but happened to be standing in the balcony watching the riots going on below on the street (C.R. No.774 of 1992). Another victim of the police firing, Naseem Ayub Khan, appears to have been hit by a bullet while standing in the balcony. Even the police do not claim that she was participating in the riots. In another incident which took place in the evening of 7th December 1992, a rampaging Hindu mob emerged from the lanes of Kumbharwada and damaged the cable equipment of Tata Electric Company which were lying on the road.

22.15 According to Police Inspector Dhawale, on 8th December 1992 at about 1400 hours he received a wireless message while he was on duty at Bombay Central Bus Depot about a violent mob near 11th Kamathipura Lane. He immediately proceeded there and saw a mob of 100–120 throwing stones and soda–water bottles on members of public and damaging public property. The mob did not heed the warnings given by police. Police also noticed a mob of miscreants throwing stones on Bohri Chawl. According to Police Inspector Dhawale, he fired one round from his service revolver in the direction of Bohri Chawl. This resulted in injury to the leg of a child of two years.

22.16 The Commission would have been inclined to pass this off as an unfortunate incident, but a closer examination of the case papers in this case (C.R.No.778 of 1992) (Exh.632–C) disclose peculiar features. In the first place, the proforma of FIR is not even signed by Police Inspector Dhawale. In the proforma against column No.4 "names and addresses of accused if any", the number is shown as "10–12 unknown persons". The statement of Police Inspector Dhawale dated 8th December 1992 is a typewritten statement in which the number of miscreants is typed as "10 to 12 persons" and overwritten in ink to read as "100 to 120". The officer is also unable to say whether the persons in the mob were Hindus or Muslims. In the statement of Police Inspector Dhawale on page 4 there is no correction made and the number of miscreants is shown as "10 to 12". Mr. Solkar, learned counsel appearing for Jamiet–E–Ulema, produced before the Commission a xerox copy of the FIR issued by the police station in which the number of miscreants is shown as "10 to 12 unknown persons". Police Inspector Dhawale, however, maintains that the strength of the miscreant mob was 100–120 and that he had overlooked page 4 of the FIR. In the report submitted to the zonal Deputy Commissioner of Police and Additional Chief Secretary, (Home), Government of Maharashtra, it is mentioned that the unlawful assembly consisted of ‘ten to twelve persons’ and the reason for firing is mentioned as "stone throwing from the Bohri Chawl and from the stairs of the said and opposite building". A perusal of the Case Diary shows that, for the first time, the number of persons in the mob was shown as "100 to 120 persons". Though the case papers contain a number of statements of witnesses, all of them turn out to be prostitutes carrying on their trade in the red–light area. The nature of their trade does not rule out the possibility of their having been persuaded to give statements in favour of police.

22.17 The Commission is inclined to take the view that stone throwing incident was at the instance of a small mob of 10–12 persons and it was the over–zealous reaction on the part of Police Inspector Dhawale in shooting at the balcony of Bohri building, resulting in injury to a child. In fact, it was urged that the whole story was false since the Police Control Room Log Book shows that an incident of stone throwing at police had taken place in 10th Kamathipura lane and this was confirmed by Nagpada Mobile–I. It was, therefore, urged by the learned counsel for the Muslims that the whole incident is fabricated. The Commission is not inclined to agree. It is possible that an error was made by the wireless operator, at either end, in describing the gully in which the stone throwing incident took place.

22.18 During the January 1993 phase of the riots, this police station registered 18 riot–related communal offences. Between 6th to 8th of January 1993 there were seven cases of deaths due to stabbing. In the border areas of Hindu–Muslim localities, pedestrians were accosted and stabbed after ascertaining their identity. All the seven victims were Hindus. 9th, 10th and 11th of January 1993 saw a large number of violent clashes and incidents of damaging, looting, ransacking and arson. There were also two cases of Muslims being stabbed on 11th and 13th January 1993. There was a most unfortunate incident on 13th January 1993 at Dalal Estate in which a Parsi couple was burnt alive to death.

22.19 There was a case of rioting and attempt to murder in the area of Belasis Road Nagpada and adjoining areas (C.R.No.27 of 1993). There were incidents of rioting on Maulana Azad Road, Sophia Zuber Road and Peerkhan Street (C.R.No.29 of 1993). Curfew was imposed in this area from 2000 hours on 7th January 1993.

22.20 On 8th January 1993 at about 1030 hours a big morcha of Muslim women was taken to the police station to protest arrests of some Muslims from Stable Street. The morcha dispersed after an assurance was given by the Deputy Commissioner of Police.

22.21 At about 18OO hours on 8th January 1993 there was an incident in which Hindu miscreants from Chikhalpada, Azubhaiwadi were who throwing stones, soda–water bottles and fire–balls at BIT chawl Nos.12. 13 and 14. Police intervened and dispersed the mob. Shuklaji Street, R.A.Nimkar Marg and Kamathipura area saw pitched battles of armed Muslims and Hindus. According to police, both the mobs were carrying ‘Kattas’ (country made pistols) from which private firing was made at the police resulting injuries to some police personnel. Police fired 78 rounds to control the mobs which resulted in injuries to four persons.

22.22 On 9th January 1993 a Muslim mob of 3,000–4,000 was damaging public property in Madanpura and Kamathipura area and was walking towards Behram Junction with a view to attacking Hindus in the Kamathipura. In the meanwhile, a Hindu mob also arrived there and started damaging properties around the area. National Cold Drink House, belonging to a Muslim, was damaged and the workers in the Cold Drink House were also injured by the Hindus. The police had to fire 50 rounds to control the situation. One Muslim was killed in this police firing and one police constable received injuries. On the same day, at about 1900 hours, there was attack on BIT Chawl Nos.12, 13 and 14 by the Hindus which was controlled by firing 19 rounds by the police.

22.23 On 10th January 1993 the most serious incident at Dalal Estate involving a Hindu mob took place. The mob entered the area and threw stones at the building and broke open and ransacked houses of two Muslims in ‘G’ building. They also threw fire–balls into those houses resulting in ‘G’ building catching fire. The mob sprinkled petrol on the wooden staircase and set it on fire, at the same time locking the entrance doors of several flats from outside.

22.24 Arvind Prabhudas Solanki, Deputy Manager, Bank of India, who resides in ‘D’ Block of Dalal Estate, has given a graphic description of the incident. According to him, there is a Muslim resident in the building by name as Anguthiwala whose house was ransacked by the miscreants. Just before the fire was noticed, he smelt strong fumes of petrol because of which he felt there may be arson. When he tried to come out of the flat by opening the door, he found it locked from outside. He forced open the door and then went on opening the latches on doors of flats, warning that the building was set on fire and that everybody should leave their houses and get out. All the residents ran out and down. It was thereafter noticed that a Parsi couple residing on the fourth floor of ‘G’ building were unable to make their escape in good time. Some of the residents had risked their lives and even jumped out of the balcony. The old couple aged 78 years could not escape from the balcony, was unable to come down the stairs as the staircase was burning and consequently the old couple was burnt in the fire.

22.25 With regard to Dalal Estate incident, the Commission finds that the story of the police is improbable. Assistant Police Inspector Rathod was on duty on D.B.Marg and according to him he even saw a mob carrying stones, petrol cans, lighted torches proceeding towards Dalal Estate. As long as he was there, he did not see any fire. At 1430 hours he saw the fire and it was reported to him that an aged couple had been trapped inside the fire and that the public had been unable to rescue the couple. Surprisingly, Senior Police Inspector Pawar claims that it was not reported to him by the Assistant Police Inspector who was on duty that the mob had set the building on fire. Senior Police Inspector Pawar says that the only report given to him was that Assistant Police Inspector Rathod saw some people carrying lighted torches and going inside the Dalal Estate and that he had chased the mob away by resorting to firing. The Commission feels that the conduct of Assistant Police Inspector Rathod during the incident is not free from suspicion.

22.26 The hand of criminal gangs, underworld elements and builders in the riots has been denied by Senior Police Inspector Pawar. That there was free use of country made pistols, by both Hindu and Muslim mobs, is admitted. The Senior Police Inspector also makes a grievance that the staff from the police station were in the habit of abandoning assigned places of duty and this was reported to the Assistant Commissioner of Police of the division. During the cross–examination by learned counsel for Shiv Sena, the Senior Police Inspector admitted that the entire Madanpura Road along Maulana Azad Road was totally un–policed because the police were afraid of their life. He, however, admitted that he did not think it necessary to bring this fact to the notice of his superiors. According to him, there were no incidents subsequent to 8th January 1993, because all Hindu shops were burnt, ransacked and looted on 7th January 1993 itself.

22.27 Though there were incidents of private firing upon the police on Peerkhan Street and junction of Shuklaji Street and R.S.Nimkar Marg and subsequently combing operations were carried out, the combing operations did not result in recovery of a single firearm. According to the Senior Police Inspector, some of the reports of the fire arms were false alarms. One of the witnesses Vijay Sonu Gule (C.R.No.36 of 1993) made a startling revelation that when he had gone to Vasant Vilas Hotel on DB Marg, he saw a mob in which Sada More, a person living near his chawl; Kundan Kadam, resident of Shiv Smriti–8, Sudhir Bhosale, another resident of Shiv Smriti–5, and his brother Sanjay Bhosale, a Police Constable also staying in Shiv Smriti–5 were also present. He learnt that all these persons had looted away the articles and the furniture inside the ‘Cats Collections’. Though the Senior Police Inspector says that investigations were still on, the shocking fact is that the Case Diary of the concerned case does not make any reference to this vital information given by Gule in which he identifies the persons including one police constable Sanjay Bhosale. Nor was any explanation forthcoming for this serious lapse. In fact, Senior Police Inspector Pawar says that the fact that a police constable was apparently involved along with other miscreants during the looting of that shop was not brought to his attention and that he learnt it only when it was put to him during his cross–examination. Though, according to police practice, the case diary is periodically inspected and initialled by Senior Police Inspector and Assistant Commissioner of Police, neither officer seems to have done this. The explanation given was that the papers were never placed before them!

22.28 The manner in which curfew orders have been enforced also leaves much to be desired. A curfew order is imposed in order to ensure that no member of public comes on the street so that the miscreants are easily identified and prevented from committing an offence. Despite repeated insistence by the Commissioner of Police that the curfew was slackly enforced, Pawar maintained that there was inadequate staff to strictly enforce the curfew order on 8th, 9th and 10th January 1993. The curfew order remained on paper, for the personal satisfaction of the Commissioner of Police, perhaps.

22.29 In this area there was also a case of some unknown miscreants catching hold of a Muslim walking along the Tardeo bridge and throwing him down from the bridge, crippling him victim for life. No one has been arrested in this incident.

22.30 Though the Commissioner of Police had issued B.C. Message No.411 dated 10.12.1992 to arrest "correct type of communal goondas", Senior Police Inspector Pawar confessed that he was unable to understand the meaning of the expression "correct type of communal goondas". He understood it as one taking advantage of communal situation and that he did not think the message applied to those who instigate or engineer communal riots.

22.31 During December 1992 about 103 establishments were damaged and or looted, out of which 74 belonged to Hindus and 29 to Muslims. During January 1993, 70 establishments of Hindus, 99 of Muslims and seven belonging to Parsis were severely affected.

22.32 The manner in which the FIRs have been written and the statements of police officers have been recorded leaves much to be desired. In at least 12 cases, which were pointedly brought to the notice of Senior Police Inspector Pawar, statements which written in Marathi and recorded by Sub–Inspector Machinder, who was specifically instructed and assigned the job of recording statements during December 1992, appeared to have been written much later and predated. The explanation given was that the officers were continuously in the field and they would convey information on chits of paper and the personnel in the police station would draft out the statements on the basis of the information on the chits. A list of such statements was prepared by the Bombay Bar Association (Exh. 725–BBA) and in all these cases it appears that the statements are typewritten in stereotype and not contemporaneous with the date borne on the statement.

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