Thursday, 13 December 2012

V.P.Road Police Station

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

26.1 V.P.Road Police Station has a majority of Hindu population with some identified Muslim pockets. The sensitive points in this area appear to be Islampura, Kika Street and J.S.Road. There is also the famous Gol Temple which saw many communal incidents. Maulana Shaukat Ali Road which runs East–West is the border of this jurisdiction. The northern footpath of Maulana Shaukat Ali Road falls within Nagpada jurisdiction while the southern footpath falls within this jurisdiction.

26.2 During December 1992 this police station registered six C.Rs., three on 7th and three on 8th of December 1992. Contrary to the popular theory that the December 1992 riots saw only the violence of Muslim mobs against the police, the evidence shows that in Kumbharwada area there were Hindu mobs which were attacking Muslim mobs gathered across Maulana Shaukat Ali Road, near Ahmed Omar Oil Mills. Hindu mobs also attacked a masjid on 2nd Kumbharwada Lane. The attack by the Muslims on 7th December 1992 appears to have been quite ferocious. At about 1430 hours police party was attacked at 6th Kumbharwada Lane by a Muslim mob with brick–bats, swords, choppers, iron rods etc. resulting in serious injuries to three constables. The mob also snatched away a rifle from a police constable. The mob set fire to Tata Electric Chowky and also to several electric cable rolls which were on Maulana Shaukat Ali Road as cable work was going on at that time.

26.3 C.R.No.599 of 1992 deals with the three serious rioting cases which resulted in injuries to one police officer, one head constable and two constables as well as four members of public by mob violence. Property worth about Rs. two crores was damaged. Police resorted to firing to control the mobs, resulting in deaths of three Muslims and two Hindus. The attacks by the Muslim mobs in this area appear to have been unprovoked. The evidence shows that Hindu mobs had gathered pursuant to attack by the Muslim mobs, in order to retaliate.

26.4 C.R.No.600 of 1992 deals with the rampage caused by Hindu mobs which repeatedly attacked residential areas in Islampura lane inhabited by Muslims with swords, brick–bats, iron bars. etc. When the police attempted to stop them, the police were attacked. Some of the stalls and shops in the vicinity were ransacked and furniture therefrom was thrown on the road and set on fire. Some vehicles were set on fire. A mosque was also attacked with brickbats and swords. In fact, the Hindu mob was so violent that it needed 82 rounds of firing from different calibers of weapons to quell it. Property worth about Rs. 40,000 was damaged; the firing resulted in six Hindus being killed and 30 Hindus being injured.

26.5 C.R. No.602 of 1992 deals with attack by a Hindu mob on Muslim establishments and ransacking and looting and arson of articles inside the establishments. Property worth about 2 to 2.5 lakhs was destroyed by arson. The rioters were quelled by firing.

26.6 C.R. No.604 deals with another Hindu mob indulging in arson and looting at Prabhat Oil Depot, Sadashiv Lane, Girgaum. Firing of six rounds was needed quell the mob. Three Hindus were injured and property worth about seventy five thousand was damaged and/or looted.

26.7 The evidence on record in this jurisdiction belies the stand taken by the State and the police that during the December 1992 phase of the riots it was only the Muslims who were violent and attacking the police. On the contrary, the facts of this police station indicate that Hindus were equally guilty of violence not only against the police, but also against Muslims and their establishments.

26.8 Turning to the January 1993 phase of the riots, Senior Police Inspector Bhaskar Raghunath Satam (Exh.411–P) claimed that he was never given to understand that there would be large–scale of rioting in January 1993. In fact, during the short period from 7th January 1993 to 9th January 1993, there were about 167 incidents of looting, ransacking or arson spread over the area of this jurisdiction. Overwhelming majority of the establishments thus looted, damaged or set on fire belonged to Muslims.

26.9 One of the serious incidents which occurred in this jurisdiction was the attack on a Muslim pocket known as Sayyedwadi on 8th January 1993. During the night of 8th/9th January 1993, taxis parked along Babasaheb Jaykar Marg were smashed and Sayyedwadi was continuously subjected to a barrage of stones and brickbats thrown by the Hindu residents of the adjoining buildings. This resulted in the residents of Sayyedwadi locking their residences and fleeing to Diamond Jubilee Compound, which is across the street, but falls within the jurisdiction of L.T. Marg police station. On 9th January 1993, Sayyedwadi was attacked resulting in ransacking and looting of all the Muslim houses in Sayyedwadi and damage to a Dargah situated within Sayyedwadi.

26.10 By B.C. Message No.386 dated 8th December 1992 the Commissioner of Police had instructed all police stations to round up at least 15–20 persons belonging to Shiv Sena, Prati–Shiv Sena or VHP. Senior Police Inspector Satam says that he had directed Senior Police Inspector Joshi and Havildar Kadu to carry out the instructions. However, they came back and informed him that there was not a single such person within their area. Consequently, nobody was rounded up. Satam admits that Shiv Sena, VHP and Bajrang Dal were very much active in this area, particularly Girgaum, but at no time had the surveillance squad identified any of the persons belonging to Shiv Sena, VHP or Bajrang Dal. No question was raised either by the Assistant Commissioner of Police or the Deputy Commissioner of Police as to why the surveillance squad could not identify such persons.

26.11 The manner in which the instructions were implemented is seen from the fact that no one was arrested for violating curfew order though there were number of such violations in this area. Satam admitted that large number of looting and arson cases took place even when the curfew orders were operative.

26.12 During January 1993 there were several instances of pedestrians being stopped and attacked after ascertaining their identity. The victims appear to be both Hindus and Muslims. In fact, out of the 20 cases of deaths due to stabbing, violence and private firing, which occurred on 7th January 1993, 17 were of Muslims and three were of Hindus. Out of the three Hindus, one died of a stone injury on his head and two died due to stab injuries. While one Muslim died of firearm injury, another died of stab injuries and firearm injury and 15 died of stab wounds.

26.13 The Mahaartis organised by Shiv Sena and VHP, though they generated tension in the area, do not appear to have spawned violent incidents in this area. There was one case of an unknown male body which was identified as that of a Muslim, Sagir Ahmed, who appears to have been shot at from a close range of 4/5 feet. That body was found lying in Sayyedwadi on 9th January 1993. That was not a death by police firing but a case of private firing.

26.14 The total number of deaths in January 1993 was twenty–three — fourteen Muslims and nine Hindus. Seven Hindus were injured in police firing.

26.15 Though a piece of lead was recovered from the body of the victim of the private firing, the investigating officer, Inspector Tawwar (C.R.No.14 of 1992), failed to send it to the ballistic expert for his opinion.

26.16 Satam says that there were standing instructions that, in cases of communal riots, the accused should be interrogated about their affiliations with any political parties. Against this background, the failure of the investigating officers to record the positive or negative replies given by the accused, was a serious lapse.

26.17 It is admitted by Satam that the areas falling within his jurisdiction were identified as areas wherein Hindu communal organisations had a stronghold. According to him, Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party were active within the jurisdiction, though a small number of sympathizers of VHP were also there in this area. On 14th December 1992, a black board was found in 2nd Kumbharwada lane inciting Hindus to attack Muslims.

26.18 Satam asserts that there was no cause within his jurisdiction for the Hindus to feel that they could not rely on the police for their protection.

26.19 The evidence of the B. Neela Prabha (Exh.437–CPI) shows that Shiv Sena boys were spreading rumours that the Muslims were going to attack Hindus in large number and large number of arms were sent for this purpose, and this resulted in communal tension. The Hindus were agitated and kept vigil throughout the night and arranged for arms. The boys who used to spread such rumours were the boys who used to sit in Shiv Sena office. The persons who used to keep vigil also had links with Shiv Sena. Some of the persons used to go around the establishments and demand money for their protection. She also stated that she had personally seen some Shiv Sena boys going to shops and extorting money. She had not only seen the boys collecting money but she herself was also approached by them demanding for money for protection. She did not openly complain against them because of fear that she would be attacked. The appointment of the Commission emboldened her to disclose this. She also narrated an incident. When she was travelling in a bus in the area, some of the youngsters entered the bus and attempted to force a Muslim sitting in the bus to apply Gulal–Tikka on his forehead and how their attempts were frustrated by those inside the bus. She says that some of the associates of those boys were standing outside and shouting, ‘Babar ki aulad neeche utro’.

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