Thursday, 13 December 2012

Tardeo Police Station

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

25.1 This police station area has a majority of Hindu residents though there are pockets where there is concentration of Muslims, such as, Tulsiwadi, M.P.Mill Compound.

25.2 From July/August 1992, the Bharatiya Janata Party, Shiv Sena and the Hindutvawaadi organisations stepped up there campaign on the issue of Ram Janmabhoomi–Babri Masjid dispute. This resulted in communal tension in the area, though it did not give rise to serious communal incidents.

25.3 The only serious communal incident which took place in December 1992 arose as a result of an attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party supporters of about 100–150 armed persons from Jijamata Nagar to enforce a bandh in a Muslim dominated area on 9th December 1992. This attempt to enforce a bandh resulted in a clash between the Muslim residents in the locality behind Lotus Cinema known as V.P. Nagar and the activists supporting the bandh. An armed mob attacked the Muslim hutments situated in V.P. Nagar. This gave rise to four cases of arson in which a scooter, a Maruti and a motor taxi were burnt. One Balkrishna Ganpat Kokate, Hindu, died as a result of the clash on 9th December 1992. A video shop of a Parsi was damaged on 13th December 1992 and there was an attempt to damage the Haji Ali Juice Centre owned by a Muslim on 14th December 1992. The police station registered six CRs in connection with these offences. Between 15th December 1992 and 8th January 1993 there were no communal incidents in this area.

25.4 The serious communal riots and violent incidents started in this area only from 9th January 1993. On 9th January 1993, a Mahaarti was held at the Hanuman Mandir in Tardeo Circle. This Mahaarti was organised by Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena who were in the forefront, while VHP, Bajrang Dal and other organisations in the background. Though, the police expected a large gathering at the Mahaarti, approximately in the region of 2,000–3,000 persons, and it is admitted by all police officers including the Assistant Commissioner of Police Changlani that there was tension in the area, no attempt was made to dissuade the holding ofMahaarti on 9th January 1993 despite a Source Report issued by SB–I, CID that the persons returning from the Mahaarti, particularly Shiv Sainiks, were likely to damage Muslim establishments and houses while dispersing. There appears to have been scant attention paid to the alert given in the Source Report. Consequently, the large crowd which had gathered during the Mahaarti, freely indulged in attack on the Muslim bastis while dispersing. Strangely, the police officers say that none of the persons who were going for the Mahaarti was armed, but when the crowd returned and started attacking the Muslim bastis, they were armed with swords, choppers and other dangerous implements. The explanation given by the police for the mysterious sudden appearance of these arms in the hands of the peaceful devotees which had gathered for the Mahaarti is hardly convincing. The manner in which the attack was carried out and the extent of damage coupled with the fact that the attackers were armed with swords, choppers and the like clearly indicates that this attack on the Muslim basti was a pre–planned attack. One of the officers suggested that the attackers on their way might have procured the weapons from the Hindu residences which fell on the way.

Perhaps this is possible. But if this explanation is true, it clearly points out to the pre–planned attack. What turned the peaceful congregation at the Mahaarti into an attacking murderous mob is indicated by the Special Report 10th March 1993 made by the Senior Police Inspector to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Special branch, SB–I, CID [Exh. 273(P) (Collectively). In this report, the Senior Police Inspector says that during the course of the Mahaarti inciting speeches were given by speakers as a result of which the congregation at the Mahaarti was incited to violence. While dispersing the crowd indulged in ransacking and looting of shops, arson and stabbing, resulting in death of one person. Despite the attempt of the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Changlani, to play down the effect of this crucial document, the Commission is not convinced that the report was in any way wrong. The report goes on to say that the Muslims in Tulsiwadi became aggressive because of the incident on that day, but on other occasions it was the Hindus who were aggressors. The report states that the murder of the Mathadi workers and the Radhabai Chawl incident which had been played up in Saamna and Navaakal resulted in the violent incidents which took place in this area.

25.5 The attacks on the Muslim bastis were instigated by Smt. Shanta Baria and one Dhodibai who were activists of the Republican Party of India. Strangely, despite knowing the activities of these two ladies which had aggravated the communal tension leading to attack on Muslim bastis, the police did not promptly arrest them on the facile reasoning that their prompt arrests might have further aggravated the situation.

25.6 The evidence on record shows that the traffic had been completely blocked by about 0735 or 0740 hours as a result of the Mahaarti on 9th January 1993 but no action was taken against the organisers of the Mahaarti.

25.7 C.R.No.6 of 1993 is an offence registered by the police with regard to a so–called attack by a Muslim mob on the police during the night in Tulsiwadi–Arya Nagar area. Strangely, this is a case registered by the police in which the holding of the Mahaarti, the Muslim mob and the 7,000 organisers of the Mahaarti were all shown as unknown accused with a common object of unlawful assembly. When questioned, Laxmanrao Baburao Jagdale, Exh. 133(P), admitted that no statements of the organisers of the Mahaarti had been recorded by him. He also said that because he saw of mob of Muslims coming from Tulsiwadi basti towards the police picket, he got the impression that the mob was attacking the police and carried out the firing. According to him, the common object of the Muslims was to attack the Arya Nagar buildings inhabited by Hindus and the common object of the organisers of the Mahaarti was to start the riot.

25.8 During 9th, 10th and 11th January 1993, there was firing from the Arya Nagar building. According to the police, this was the firing resorted by some of the constables who had gone to the terrace of the building. The evidence shows that the Hindu residents of Arya Nagar buildings were throwing, stones, brickbats and fire–balls on the hutments of the Muslim bastis below which gave rise to widespread fire. Though this activity was seen mostly from the terraces of the Arya Nagar Building Nos. 16 and 17, the police did not go to the terraces of those buildings. One PC No.8343 (A.R.Chavan) was posted on the terrace of Building 14 and was found to be doing nothing despite the throwing of bottles, missiles and fire–balls from the terraces of Building Nos.16 and 17. He had, therefore, to be loaded by PSI Kamalchandra Eknath Thakur who opened fire. The firing of course resulted in no casualties.

25.9 The Kathewadi Hindus who reside in the hutments along the Bhanji Rathod Marg under the inspiring leadership of Shantabai Baria and Dhodibai made three attempts to burn down Muslim zopadpattis of Tulsiwadi on 10th January 1993 at about 1100 hours, 1230 hours and 1400 hours. Again there was an attack on Muslimbasti at about 1700 hours by the Hindu mob originating from the German Chawl side. The police firing to control the Hindu mob resulted in the death of Shanta Baria.

25.10 While the Tulsiwadi–Arya Nagar areas saw these incidents, the Hindu mobs were freely moving around the Tardeo Roads slashing up Muslim establishments, looting them and setting them on fire on 9th January 1993 soon after the Mahaarti. Number of establishments were thus subjected to ransacking, looting and arson on that day.

25.11 Another area which was badly affected was the M.P. Mill Compound. Surprisingly, the Muslim bastis in M.P. Mill Compound are just behind the Tardeo Police Station. This does not appear to have deterred the miscreants from attacking them and setting them on fire. There is also a case of looting of a Muslim house in M.P. Mill Compound in which one of the accused is a police constable.

25.12 According to the evidence of Jaykumar Anandrao Desai, Police Sub–Inspector,[Exh.157(P)], the looting and stone throwing was done by the residents of the buildings on Tardeo Road, there used to be mobs moving along the road indulging in such activities and that those mobs were coming from the direction of Haji Ali circle as well as from the direction of Tardeo circle. The people in the mob were carrying the implements required for breaking open the shops and that he saw about three shops being broken open before him. On that day, Jaykumar A.Desai was on duty at about 2030 hours near Maniyar Building, Dadarkar Compound from which at a distance of about 1,000 feet was the nearest police picket at Haji Ali Circle.

25.13 In January 1993, this police station registered 20 offences with regard to the ransacking, looting and arson of Muslim establishments and residences.

25.14 Though the consolidated offence of C.R. No.6 of 1993 pertained to the attack by the crowd returning from the Mahaarti on the Muslim bastis, the immediate reaction in firing at a crowd of Muslims emerging from bastis resulted in the death of two Muslims and injuries to three Muslims. In C.R.No.7 of 1993, 12 Hindus were injured as a result of police firing. In C.R.No.8 of 1993 one Hindu was killed and two Hindus were injured in police firing. In C.R.No.11 of 1993, one Hindu was killed and two Hindus were injured in police firing and in C.R. No.12 of 1993, two Hindus including Shantabai Baria were killed and 12 Hindus were injured in police firing.

25.15 The analysis of the deaths which occurred during the two riot periods indicates that, eight deaths occurred due to mob violence, out of which one was victim was a Hindu and other seven were Muslims; six deaths resulted from police firing, out of which four victims were Hindus and two were Muslims.

25.16 The evidence of Asraf Ali Basir Ahmed [Exh. 318(BBA)] is quite revealing. This witness resided in Dadarkar Building, Tardeo. One Narendra Sawant, an activist of Shiv Sena also resided on the same floor of the building. Narendra Sawant and three or four other persons along with him damaged the Maruti car of Asraf’s brother bearing registration No.MMA 5939 which was parked outside the building by throwing stones at the rear glass and smashing the glass into pieces. Asraf has given a detailed evidence as to how he had to take the help of the police to move his family to safety on 10th January 1993. He also states that on 12th January 1993 he was also informed by Hindu neighbours that his house has been ransacked and looted by somebody in the building as well as by outsiders. On 15th January 1993 he went to his house in the company of Police Sub–Inspector S.M. Desai and surveyed the loss and took photographs of the damage. He also states that after repairing the broken front door of his flat and locking it, while he was getting down he met a group of five to six persons which included Narendra Sawant and one Police Constable, Pathade, who was staying in his building as a sub–tenant, attached to Tardeo Police Station. All those persons had saffron tikkas on their foreheads and after ascertaining from him that his house had bee ransacked, Police Constable Pathade told him that "we have not ended this and we are going to proceed further to cause more damage to you Muslims." Asraf says in his evidence that apart from Narendra Sawant and constable Pathade, he could recognise one or two persons because they were moving around in the compound of Dadarkar Building. The full name of the said constable is Shrirang Sahebrao Pathade, PC No.7783. Asraf without hesitation identified the said constable in the court hall during the course of his evidence. This is one more instance of police person being involved in riotous and communal activities.

25.17 The Commission is of the view that this is another instance of the police not acting promptly and resolutely in the face of a situation with potential danger which was developing before the police. The Commission feels that if the police had acted resolutely by declining permission to hold the Mahaarti on 9th January 1993 in view of the communal tension which was developed in the area, the consequent loss of property and lives could have been avoided.

No comments:

Post a Comment