Thursday, 13 December 2012

Nirmal Nagar

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

21.1 This jurisdictional area is of about 3 sq. k.m., tucked in between the Western Express Highway on the southern side, western railway tracks on the western side, Golibar subway road on the northern side and a nulla running parallel to the Western Express Highway on the eastern side. The Bandra Railway Terminus is at the western extremity of this jurisdiction and three railway foot bridges at Bandra Railway Station, Navpada and Khar Railway Station give access to this jurisdiction across the western railway tracks.

21.2 A large number of Government and semi-Government offices like, I.O.C., Provident Fund Commissioner’s office, O.N.G.C. and M.S.E.B., the suburban complex of Small Causes and Metropolitan Magistrate’s Courts are located in this area. Being parallel to the Western Express Highway, every movement of VIP and VVIPs along the Western Express Highway has its fallout in this jurisdiction. The area has a population of about four lakhs and a floating population of office workers numbering about thirty–forty thousand.

21.3 Community-wise distribution of the resident population of Nirmal Nagar is 40% Muslims, 60% Hindus, Nav Bauddhas and others, though the predominant majority is of Hindus. Indira Nagar, Navpada, Behrampada, Hussain Tekdi, Gausia Compound in Golibar are Muslim predominant localities, while Kherwadi Road, Jaihind Nagar, Fish Market, Sanjay Gandhi Nagar, Davri Colony, Chhatrapati Nagar, Saibaba Road and New MIG Colony are Hindu strongholds. Golibar area comprises Shantilal Compound, Nehru Nagar and Adarsh Apartments. New MIG Colony and Kher Nagar are multi-storied buildings, the former occupied by people from the upper middle class while the latter is occupied by people from the lower middle class and working class.

21.4 Behrampada comprising mostly hutments, with a few pucca structures, is a predominantly Muslim pocket. Zakaria Nagar, which comprises multi–storied buildings, is occupied by upper middle class Muslims and situated adjacent to Behrampada. Behrampada mostly houses those from lower income groups. Only one road within Behrampada is partially motorable as most of the other roads are small lanes. The slums of Behrampada extend from the A.K. Marg on the southern side to Kherwadi Road on the northern side and stretch from the railway tracks on the western side to the New MIG Colony and Kher Nagar areas on the eastern side. Prior to 1st May 1985 this area was part of the jurisdiction of Kherwadi Police Station. During 1984 Hindu–Muslim riots there were a number of violent incidents here and for better policing a new police station called Nirmal Nagar Police station was established on 1st May 1985.

21.5 Senior Police Inspector Mahadev Baburao Zende took charge of this police station sometime in March 1992. He had recommended to the Commissioner of Police that, considering the extremely sensitive nature of the jurisdiction, the manpower attached to the police station was inadequate and that the manpower be increased. In his assessment, though the arms, ammunition and equipment possessed by the police station prior to December 1992, were adequate, qualitatively and quantitatively, for normal working, they were inadequate, both qualitatively and quantitatively, for meeting the extraordinary situation which arose after 6th December 1992.

21.6 There has been continuous friction between the residents of New MIG Colony and Kher Nagar Buildings and the residents of Behrampada. The residents of these two localities felt resentment against the residents of Behrampada since they thought that Behrampada was spoiling the clean surroundings and causing the crime rate of the locality to increase because of the existence of large number of criminal elements within it. One frequent complaint was that pedestrians along A.K. Marg were molested and assaulted by the criminal elements from Behrampada. The residents of Behrampada had the unstinted support of the then M.P., Shri Sunil Dutt, who prevailed upon the Government and prevented the demolition of Behrampada. From the year 1980, Shri Madhukar Sarpotdar was the sitting Shiv Sena MLA representing the Kherwadi constituency which includes jurisdiction of Kherwadi, Nirmal Nagar and Vakola.

21.7 Communal trouble started on 6th December 1992 in this area with the decapitation of a Ganesh idol in the Ganesh Mandir on the A.K. Marg. At about 2345 hours on that day it was it was noticed by one Bena Parshuram Majithia that the Ganesh idol was missing from the sanctum sanctorum and was lying in a corner of the temple in broken condition. She immediately gave information to the Trustees of the Mandir who in turn informed the police at about 0045 hours on 7th December 1992. The police immediately came there and registered an offence (C.R.No.271 of 1992). The Ganesh Mandir is situated directly across the road from the Court Complex where there is continuous bandobast of police. A guard on duty there would have had a clear and unobstructed view of the mandir. The adjoining buildings which house MSEB, ONGC and IOC offices also have their own security watchmen. The police do not appear to have bothered at all to make enquiries from the police guards at the court complex or the watchmen from the adjoining buildings. The police were unable to get any clue to the identity of the miscreants and the case was classified in "A" Summary.

21.8 It appears to the Commission that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of some mischievous elements to whip up communal passions and stir up communal riots. Unfortunately, the Hindu community in the area appears to have fallen prey to this game-plan, brainwashed by the local leaders of Shiv Sena, including MLA Shri Sarpotdar, who unleashed a barrage of propaganda that Muslims were responsible for the outrage. Though Shri Sarpotdar claimed to have some inside information that the miscreants were Gullu, Ilias and Dilawar, all Muslims, he did not bother to pass on that information to the police, nor did he inform the police as to the source of his information so that the police could carry on effective investigation. Had the local MLA Shri Sarpotdar displayed the same zeal in co–operating with the police, which he showed in making speculative and unfounded allegations, probably the miscreants could have been nailed. For unfathomable reasons, no such efforts were made by Shri Sarpotdar.

21.9 Though the police claim that a violent Muslim mob had attacked Hindus in the area adjacent to Zakaria Nagar (C.R.No.272 of 1992), the story is difficult to accept. Though the police were reluctant to admit the presence of Hindu mob during the incident, continued stress of cross–examination elicited the fact that a Hindu mob had come very close to the Zakaria Nagar. Firing by police, though claimed to have been directed at both the mobs, resulted in deaths of Muslims, without any Hindu casualties. That three establishments of Muslims and two of Hindus were damaged in this incident, also suggests that it was a clash of two mobs.

21.10 In another incident there was clash between a violent mob of Hindus and a mob of Muslims from the Behrampada side (C.R.No.273 of 1992). The police do not appear to have taken any action to disperse the Hindu mob, but concentrated their fire against the Muslim mob. In fact, the Senior Police Inspector was forced to admit that such action against Hindus was also necessary to prevent their advancement towards Behrampada and that, had he been the officer in–charge, he would have taken strong action against both the mobs. Again, Senior Police Inspector admitted that when he went to Bapuji stall on the A.K.Marg he had initially seen only the Hindu mob, though he was unable to say whether it was the Hindu mob which first attacked the Behrampada area. The police version becomes doubtful.

21.11 A masjid situated in Jaihind Nagar was attacked by a Hindu mob which threw fire–balls, stones, brick–bats and damaged the Masjid (C.R.No.274 of 1992).

21.12 In the case registered in C.R.No.275 of 1992, there was a violent clash between the Hindu and Muslim mobs and the police firing resulted in the death of one Muslim and injuries to three Hindus. Eight police persons were injured by mob violence. Forty eight rounds were fired by the police during the firing. The incident was going on for about four hours. In this case, the statements of the injured persons have not been recorded. In the FIR the strength of mob was over-written from "150–200" to "1500–2000". Though the police could arrest three Muslim miscreants, there is no explanation for their inability to arrest any Hindu miscreants. Out of the 74 establishments shown to have been damaged or looted, 29 belonged to Muslims and 40 belonged to Hindus.

21.13 In C.R.No.277 of 1992, according to the police a violent mob of 100–125 Muslims from Navpada emerged shouting "Mandir Todo", "Police ko mar dalo" and attacked the Hindu establishments and police. It is claimed by the police that some of the miscreants also fired at the hutments on the eastern side of the Bandra Terminus resulting in injuries to six Hindus and one Muslim residing in the hutments on the eastern side of the Terminus. The police firing resulted in the death of two Muslims. The police claimed that this was an incident in which the Muslims were violent aggressors. However, an analysis of the property damage indicates that out of the 13 establishments damaged during the incident, 12 belonged to Muslims and one to Hindu, which is inexplicable unless there was also a violent Hindu mob on rampage. The theory of private firing by the Muslim mob is also doubtful. In the case papers maintained by Railway Police before transferring the case to Nirmal Nagar police station there is no reference to private firing. The explanation offered by the Senior Police Inspector is that the railway police officer who recorded the FIR might not have recorded the firing incident. No fire–arms were recovered. Even the Senior Police Inspector was forced to admit that there was a possibility that what the witness thought as private firing might have been the sound of police firing. All in all, it is extremely doubtful if there was any private firing during the incident, as alleged.

21.14 C.R.Nos. 276, 278, 281 and 284 of 1992 relate to widespread damaging, ransacking and looting of the properties by the violent mobs, without direct confrontation with opposing mobs. The incidents were spread over from 1030 hours to 1430 hours on 7th, 8th and 10th December 1992. The police had to fire, in all, 32 rounds while dealing with the situation.

21.15 The fury of the Muslims was directed against the Police Chowky at Behrampada Gate No.18, Police Chowky in Navpada and Ambewadi. Further up in the Golibar locality, against the shakha of Shiv Sena and the Hindu shops located on the Golibar Road between Ambewadi Chowky and Adarsh Apartments. There was violent confrontation between armed Muslim mobs emerging from the kabrastan shouting anti–Hindu slogans and the police.

21.16 In an incident of rioting at Indira Nagar the Muslim mobs attacked the Indira Nagar Police Chowky damaged it and set on fire articles inside the Chowky and a scooter of a police officer. There was also an incident of rioting near the Fish Market, Nehru Nagar, Bharani and Dawari Colony during which one head constable was assaulted and injured by a chopper wielded by the Muslim mob.

21.17 On 9th December 1992 at about 0945 hours, there was a violent disturbance at Saibaba Road, Pipe Line Road and Hussain Tekdi localities. Mobs of Hindus and Muslims, 300–400 strong, were attacking each other and the intervening police picket was also subjected to barrage of stones, soda–water bottles and brick–bats. Here also the material on record does not clearly show that there was private firing from the Muslim mob.

21.18 On 12th December 1992 four dead bodies, all of Hindus, having multiple stab wounds on vital organs and in highly decomposed condition, were recovered from the gutter along A.K. Marg (CR No.291 of 1992). In yet another incident, one Hindu woman by name Shevantabai was found murdered with her throat slit and her body was dumped in the open compound of National Girls’ High School adjoining Behrampada (C.R.No.291 of 1992). Two more bodies, one of a male Hindu and another identified as that of a uniformed Muslim police constable attached to the Nasik Rural Police Head Quarters, were recovered from the septic tank of the public latrine in Behrampada on 20th and 21st December 1992 respectively. These bodies also bore multiple stab injuries. It would appear that there was a systematic attempt to stab and murder Hindus and the policeman, though a Muslim, became a victim of the anger of the Muslims directed against the uniform worn by him.

21.19 In January 1993 the first incident of communal disturbance occurred on 1st January 1993, (C.R.No.1 of 1993) during which a mob of violent Hindus attacked Muslims behind Jaihind Nagar and Gausiya Compound on the Service Road adjacent to Western Express Highway and threw stones at the vehicles plying on the Express Highway. An intervening police picket was also attacked with stones and brick–bats which resulted in police firing five rounds and injuring three Hindus. The Senior Police Inspector was unable to ascribe any motive for the attack on the police. However, the spot at which the violent Hindu mob was found, and its conduct, would suggest that probably the immediate target of attack was the Gausiya Masjid and the Muslim residents in close vicinity thereof and the police were attacked because they tried to prevent it. This attack is of some significance as it belies the theory of the Shiv Sena, the State and the police that the Hindus resorted to violence by way of retaliation only after the grisly Radhabai Chawl incident at Jogeshwari.

21.20 The theory further breaks down when two further incidents are examined. About 100–150 Hindu boys from Davri Colony suddenly came on the road armed with choppers, soda–water bottles, stones, etc. in order to attack the Muslim locality and shouted at the police falsely alleging that the Muslims were pelting stones from Davri Colony and that the police should go there to render help (CR No.9 of 1993). One Vilas Kolte alias Bowdya came running armed with a knife and attacked a police constable with it. However, the police constable fired in self–defence injuring Vilas Kolte (CR No.10 of 1993).

21.21 On 6th January 1993 one Hindu was found murdered lying on the road in the vicinity of a Muslim locality (CR No.14 of 1993). Though the case was investigated and classified in "A" summary subsequently, on 6th January 1993 the discovery of the body led to a protest march to the police station by the Hindus residing and carrying on business on Kherwadi Road, it being assumed that, as the body was found near a Muslim locality, some fanatic Muslim must have committed the murder.

21.22 Investigations into the incident in CR No.18 of 1993 in which two Muslims were assaulted produced no results and the case was classified in "A" summary. The investigations appear to be so unsatisfactory that even the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the division refused to approve of the "A" classification and directed the arrest of one accused Nitin whose address was available on the record.

21.23 Under the leadership of the local Shiv Sena leaders, led by MLA, Shri Sarpotdar, no less than three morchas were taken to the police station and on each occasion the grievance made was that the police were not giving protection to the Hindus in spite of murderous attacks on them and that, on the contrary, innocent Hindu boys were being rounded up by the police for no reasons. Such morchas were taken to the police station on 6th December 1992, 11th January 1993 and 12th January 1993. Though it is claimed by Shri Sarpotdar that these morchas were spontaneous outbursts on the part of the Hindu community which had been subjected to atrocities by the Muslims, it is difficult to swallow this. It is also difficult to accept the suggestion of the Shiv Sena that all the local Shiv Sena leaders coincidentally happened to be present in the morchas that came to the police station. That these morchas were intended to browbeat and pressurise the police to deter them in the performance of their duties, appears to be clear. Another significant fact is that in one of the morchas allegations were made against Additional Commissioner of Police A.A. Khan that he was targeting innocent Hindus and opening fire on them — an attempt at invidious discrimination on communal grounds.

21.24 A combing operation carried out by the police in Maratha Colony, Kher Nagar and Indira Nagar resulted in recovery of a dagger from the rear side of the Hanuman temple in Maratha Colony. Thirty five tube–lights and some cricket stumps were also recovered. Fifteen tube–lights were recovered from the open space adjacent to the Shiv Sena shakha No.91 on Kherwadi road.

21.25 The investigation by the police in the offence registered vide C.R.No.27 of 1993 appears to be wholly perfunctory. Though the victim of the assault identified the assailants as Raju Biscuitwalla, the two sons of Nachnekar, Rajesh, Avadesh, Sevak, Sunil Shetty and Anil Shetty, the police appeared to have carried out no worthwhile investigations to apprehend the culprits specifically named by the victim. Though Sevak and Sunil Shetty were specifically shown as wanted accused in the Crime Reports upto 27th September 1993, thereafter they were not even shown as wanted accused when the investigations were closed. Interestingly, the two sons of Nachnekar identified by the victim Sugrabi, were not even shown as wanted accused at any stage of the investigations and there is no explanation whatsoever for this lapse. Though the Senior Police Inspector claims ignorance as to the identity of the Nachanekars, it appears to the Commission that they must be the sons of a local politically influential person.

21.26 In CR No.27 of 1993, there was an attack on Muslim houses by Hindu mobs.

21.27 While the police were prompt in arresting Muslim miscreants at all levels, they showed marked reluctance to arrest any of the miscreants connected with the Shiv Sena. In fact, the assessments made in the Crime Reports suggest that if accused belonging to higher and lower ranks of Shiv Sena were arrested, there was likelihood of flare up in the communal situation and therefore it was decided that no Shiv Sainik should be arrested. This view was taken not only by the lower police echelons, but also had the approval of the Assistant Commissioner of Police and the zonal Deputy Commissioner of Police. Thus, there have been cases where the accused Shiv Sainiks were charge–sheeted even without arrest and interrogations, apparently under the oral orders of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Pande. It appears to the Commission, that repeated morchas and flexing of muscles by the Shiv Sena hierarchy and the crowds led by them, affected the police morale and psyche.

21.28 There is another glaring discrimination apparent on the part of the police. Muslims who resorted to a peaceful Rasta Roko on A.K. Marg were charged with offences under Section 341 of IPC (C.R.No.302 of 1992). No Hindu appears to have been arrested for blatant breach of the prohibitory orders under Section 37(3) of the Bombay Police Act.

21.29 On occasions the army officers themselves assessed the situation as beyond the control of the section of the police. But, in spite of clear instructions from the Commissioner of Police, the local police were reluctant to hand over the situation to the army. (Vide wireless messages in Cassette No.53/A dated 11th January 1993). Nonetheless, there were three occasions when even the local police were forced to hand over the situation to the army column. On 11th January 1993 in the Golibar Hussain Tekdi area, on 13th January 1993 in Golibar, Adarsh Apartments and the other adjoining areas, and on 15th January 1993 in Kherwadi, on Kherwadi Road and the adjoining areas.

21.30 On 11th January 1993, the army column on patrol intercepted a jeep in which Shri Madhukar Sarpotdar and six other persons, including his son Atul, were travelling. They seized from their possession one Smith and Wesson revolver of .32 calibre, one Astra pistol of .20 calibre and one .99 mm pistol, apart from two choppers, two hockey sticks and two sticks. While the Smith and Wesson revolver was licensed in the name of Shri Sarpotdar, the other two revolvers were unlicensed. It took the police two days to register an offence against Shri Sarpotdar and his companions (vide LAC No.22 of 1993), which was registered only on 14th January 1993. The explanation of Shri Sarpotdar for carrying the hockey sticks, choppers and sticks was that, as the area was disturbed, they were carrying them for self–defence. Further explanation is that Shri Sarpotdar and all his companions were active trade unionists, that they had met in the trade union office for carrying on routine trade union business, though the situation all round the area was communally explosive. The explanation, to say the least, strains one’s credulity. Although at the material time the mere possession of unlicensed fire–arm in a "Notified Area" would have attracted penal liability under Section 5 of the TADA act, and the entire city of Bombay had been declared as a "Notified Area", there was neither an attempt to invoke the provisions of the TADA Act, nor to oppose bail to the accused persons on the ground that the provisions of the TADA Act were applicable. The service of the charge–sheet appears to have been inordinately delayed. When Shri Sarpotdar gave his evidence before this Commission, as late as 15th January 1996, he claimed that he had not been served with the charge–sheet !!

21.31 There is a grievance made by the LLAC and JEU that because of Sarpotdar’s clout the Shiv Sena had the run of the police station. The Commission finds some substance in this argument in view of all the material brought on record.

21.32 Though Shri Sarpotdar was later on detained twice under the National Security Act, on both occasions his detention orders were quashed on technical grounds. His activity at the time of reinstallation ceremony of the Ganesh idol on 26th December 1992 was communally provocative. The Ganesh idol was taken in procession through the jurisdictional limits of Kherwadi and Nirmal Nagar and terminated at the Ganesh Mandir on A.K. Marg. The slogans shouted, the placards carried and the speeches made on the occasion were, without doubt, communally provocative. Though Shri Sarpotdar claims that this procession was not organised by the Shiv Sena, but by the local Ganesh Mandir Trustees, one can read between the lines. The presence of almost all the local Shiv Sena leaders could not have been fortuitous; the placards carried by the processionists unequivocally said, "Shiv Senechi dahashat, hich sarvajanik surakshitata (Shiv Sena’s terror is the only guarantee of public safety)". Shri Sarpotdar claims total ignorance of the communal speeches delivered at the reinstallation ceremony at the Ganesh Mandir, so also of the writings on the placards. Though Shri Sarpotdar claims that he had been permitted by the then Additional Commissioner of Police, V.N. Deshmukh and the other police officers to take out this procession, it is denied by Deshmukh and the other police officers. The fact that the police launched prosecution in respect of this incident and had used the contents of the speech made by Shri Sarpotdar on this occasion as one of the grounds for his detention under National Security Act, belies the stand of Shri Sarpotdar.

21.33 During the morcha brought to the police station by the local Shiv Sena leaders on 11th January 1993, a rumour was spread that there was firing on the processionists from a building adjacent to Building No.10 diagonally opposite to Nirmal Nagar police station. The police immediately carried out combing operations by responding to the complaint. Nothing objectionable was recovered, nor was any person apprehended. Even the police do not support the theory of private firing on themorcha. Once again, it appears to be an attempt on the part of the persons who brought the morcha to set up the bogie of private firing to put pressure on the police.

21.34 There is a candid admission made by the Senior Police Inspector that when the army column was doing flag marches, its presence did not instill fear in the riotous mobs, but when the army personnel took up position while handling a situation, their very presence and actions instilled fear in the minds of the miscreants. Otherwise also, the rioters in this area did not appear to be scared of the police.

21.35 Though hue and cry has been made by the Shiv Sena and the police about recoveries of the bodies of Hindus from the Behrampada area, there is another equally gruesome incident (C.R.No.36 of 1993) in which five persons from a family of Muslim hawkers were burnt to death by the rioters and their bodies were thrown into the fire to destroy the evidence. In fact, the situation in that incident is graphically described by the witness who says, "the Hindu miscreants were running through lanes and bye–lanes with swords and choppers, etc. and attacking houses of the Muslims and looting and burning the articles on the roads. Police were chasing them. However, the miscreants were taking advantage of lanes and bye–lanes and continuing their destructive activities". A sad commentary on the law and order situation!

21.36 The activities of the Muslims, alleged to be mostly criminal elements from Behrampada, was a continuing focal point of dispute. The Shiv Sena kept complaining that Behrampada was a hotbed of criminals and illegal arms and ammunition of sophisticated varieties were stored there. Once a combing operation was attempted by the police during night time. The material on record shows that the top brass in the police and the Government had second thoughts on continuing the raids during night time, in view of the inconvenience it would cause to the innocent citizens. The police were instructed to carry out the raids only during day time and that too in the presence of a senior officer of the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police. Though it is true that all this was done at the instance of the local M.P. Shri Sunil Dutt, and the then Minister for Housing Shri Javed Khan, it is not possible to say that this per se was an attempt to interfere in police work to shield the culprits and to prevent the seizure of unlawful arms stored within Behrampada area, as alleged by the Shiv Sena. According to the Senior Police Inspector, though they had information that there was a possibility of some country–made guns, crude bombs and similar weapons being stored in Behrampada area, they had no information that sophisticated weapons like AK–47 or hand grenades were stored there. In fact, when the police raided Behrampada area, all that they recovered were 50 tube–lights, 30 empty soda–water bottles, 50 acid bulbs and a few choppers.

21.37 The police once again raided Behrampada area on 18th February 1993 on receiving information that one Hasim Batla and his associates were preparing bomb in a pucca room on first floor near Ganesh Mandir, Malang Galli, Behrampada. The raid resulted in seizure of seven crude bombs, ten sutli bombs and other material useful for preparing such crude bombs. The police arrested three Muslims on the spot and registered a case vide LAC No.58 of 1993. The interrogation of the arrested accused indicates that one Gullu, a resident of Behrampada, was taking a leading part in manufacturing of crude bombs in the room belonging to one Sheikh Mohd. Jaffar alias Chacha who was ostensibly carrying on flower business in Mahim. Gullu and his associates were preparing such crude bombs in order to repel attacks from Hindus. Though there is reference in the interrogatory statements that Gullu and some of his associates were Bengalis, there is no material to suggest that the Bengalis were illegal Bangladeshi aliens. In all, five Muslims were arrested in this case and they have been prosecuted under relevant provisions of law. Though the police claim that while the combing operations were going on, a crude bomb exploded near Deputy Commissioner of Police Kalpatri, there appears to be no material to suggest this, nor is there evidence of any injury suffered by anyone as a result thereof.

21.38 The facts in C.R.No.39 of 1993 indicate the manner in which the Hindu mobs set about their business of "retaliation". Large Hindu crowds of about 2,500–3,000, armed with stones, soda–water bottles, swords and choppers, collected in the localities of J.P. Road, Pipeline Road, Teen Bungalow and started systematically attacking shops and houses of Muslims, ransacking their belongings and making a bonfire of articles by throwing them on the street. The police claim to have acted swiftly and resorted to firing, resulting in the death of two Hindus and one Muslim. Most of the property damage suffered in this case was of Muslims.

21.39 The activities of the Hindu mobs gave rise to a feeling of insecurity in the minds of Muslims and by about 12th January 1993 a large number of Muslim families shifted out to safer places with the assistance of police. Instead of reassuring the citizens about their safety and taking vigorous steps to instil confidence, the police readily agreed to this easier way out and shifted the Muslims to Muslim predominant areas. After the Muslim families had shifted, their houses were systematically ransacked, looted and, on occasions, set on fire.

21.40 There is also the incident in which Vivek Maitra, personal assistant of Shri Gopinath Munde, the then Opposition leader, was apprehended near Adarsh Apartments, Golibar Road on 13th January 1993 by the army column. The vehicle in which he was travelling was intercepted near Adarsh Apartments on Golibar Road, and it was found that Vivek Maitra was carrying a revolver and one empty case and reported that the said fire–arm was licensed to Shri Gopinath Munde. Both Vivek Maitra and Shri Gopinath Munde have been prosecuted vide LAC No.23 of 1993.

21.41 The case in C.R.No.46 of 1993 presents certain peculiar features. According to the police, the Muslims from Behrampada were going for Friday afternoonnamaaz and all of a sudden they started rioting and attacking the Hindu residences in the adjoining locality. This led to police intervention and firing. The version of the Muslim victims is that Hindu miscreants had gathered on the terrace of the buildings adjacent to Kherwadi Road and they disturbed the namaazis by throwing stones and fire–balls at them. When the namaazis started running helter–skelter to save themselves, the police fired at them. Considering that not a single Hindu establishment situated within Behrampada or the Ganesh temple within Behrampada, was even slightly damaged during the height of the riots and the fact that the Muslims at namaaztime were unlikely to be armed for attack, the story given by the police appears suspect. The version of the Muslims that the namaazis were subjected to attack with stones and fire–balls from the miscreants on the adjacent buildings and the police, ham–handedly or otherwise, started firing at the namaazis who were running helter–skelter, appears more probable.

21.42 There was an allegation made by Shri Sarpotdar, both inside the Vidhan Sabha and outside, that Behrampada housed a large number of illegal Pakistani and Bangladeshi residents. Apart from a lot of thunder, there appears to be little material in support. When confronted under cross–examination, Shri Sarpotdar was not able to produce any material, nor did he give any material to the police in support of his allegations. On the contrary, he claimed that when a question was raised on the floor of the Assembly, it was considered to be authentic and it was not for the MLA to produce evidence, but for the Government to produce the evidence!

21.43 Perhaps, like all slums, Behrampada is a breeding ground for criminal activities in view of the depressed economic conditions there. Assuming it to be so, what is true of Behrampada is equally true of hundreds of other slums in the city. There does not seem to be any other evidence to support the exaggerated claims of the Shiv Sena.

21.44 The evidence of Ms. Flavia Ignes, (Witness No.391) also supports this conclusion. Though Ms.Flavia has been meticulously cross–examined with regard to her alleged bias against the Hindutvawaadis, and particularly the Shiv Sena, the Commission is unable to accept the theory. Her evidence appears to be straight forward and objective. Her writings do not display any prejudice as such, though she might not think along the lines of Hindutvawaadis/Shiv Sena. Madhushree Dutta (Witness No.392) had made a film documentary on the subject in which she tried to repel the myth propagated by the Hindus that Behrampada was a den of criminals of the worst variety. Even apart from her thesis, there appears to be no material to support the said allegation.

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