Thursday, 13 December 2012

R.A.K. Marg Police Station

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

24.1 The jurisdictional territory of this police station is thickly populated. 65% of the population is composed of Hindus, while Muslim population comprises about 30%, the other 5% being the rest. There are distinct Muslim pockets in this area at Sewri Cross Road, Sanman Nagar, Wadala and Zakeria Bunder.

24.2 During December 1992 there were only four incidents of communal violence. On 7th December 1992 at about 2230 hours a violent mob of Muslims had attacked a Hanuman Mandir at Sewri Cross Road and had to be dispersed by police firing. On 8th December 1992 at about 1400 hours there was an attack on Parmanandwadi Dargah by a Hindu mob. The police dispersed the mob by firing and arrested three Hindu accused. There were two deaths, one of a Muslim who died of police firing and one a Hindu who died of stabbing and three other persons were injured. The rest of December 1992 passed of without any serious incidents.

24.3 According to the Senior Police Inspector Dilip Madhukar Tipnis (Witness No.239-P), this police station did not have sufficient manpower to take care of even the day–to–day work load. He had addressed a letter dated 21st July 1989 to Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone II and a letter dated 28th June 1991 to the Commissioner of Police pointing out the shortage of manpower and asking for increase in manpower. Apparently no action was taken by the superiors. The vehicles attached to this police station, communication equipment and even the arms and ammunition given to this police station were qualitatively and quantitatively inadequate to deal with the situations arising during the two phases of riots.

24.4 January 1993 phase of the rioting saw some of the serious incidents taking place in this jurisdiction. Two hundred eighty nine establishments were ransacked looted and subjected to arson during the two riots, out of which 243 belonged to Muslims, 41 to Hindus, four to Christians and the ownership of one was unascertained. The combined casualty toll during December 1992 and January 1993 is 28 deaths out of which 15 died in police firing (nine Muslims and six Hindus), one Muslim died in a private firing incident, eight persons were burnt to death (six Muslims, one Hindu and one unknown person), three deaths occurred due to stabbing (two Muslims and one Hindu) and one Muslim was stoned to death. The community–wise break up of deaths is 19 Muslims, eight Hindus and one unidentified person.

24.5 During the January 1993 phase of the riots, there were 38 cases of injuries. Twenty persons (11 Muslims and nine Hindus) were injured in police firing; seven persons (six Muslims and one Hindu) were injured by stabbing; five persons (one Muslim and four Hindus) were injured in private firing; one Hindu was injured inlathi–charge by police, one Hindu was injured in petrol bomb explosion and four Muslims were injured by mob action. Most of the serious incidents of violence during the two riot periods took place in the vicinity of Hari Masjid, Noori Masjid, Parmanandwadi Darga and Hanuman Mandir on Sewri Cross Road.

24.6 B.C. Message No.411 of 1992 (Ex.1004–C) regarding the preventive arrest of "communal goonda" appears to have created some confusion, as the Senior Police Inspector admitted that, for want of guidelines as to who were communal goondas he assumed that the expression "communal goonda" was synonymous with the expression "bad character".

24.7 The tension appears to have been built up in this area right from October to December 1992 as Ram Paduka programmes, corner sabhas, cycle rally, bhajan andGhantanaad programmes were organised by Bharatiya Janata Party and VHP. Even on 6th December 1992 Ghantanaad programmes were arranged at three places in which slogans about of building of temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya were shouted.

24.8 There was no trouble in this area on 6th, 7th and 8th of January 1993. All the violent incidents which took place in this area appear to have taken place on 9th and 10th January 1993.

24.9 This area has the dubious distinction of seeing several gruesome cases of persons being burnt alive or murdered and their bodies being burnt surreptitiously. That this area is very much under the influence and control of Shiv Sena is admitted by police. A colony known as Shivaji Nagar diagonally opposite Sakharam Lanjekar Marg appears to be the stronghold of Shiv Sainiks and their supporters. Large number of accused were arrested there and large number of preventive arrests were also made from there.

24.10 The curfew in this area came to be enforced only on 13th January 1993 at the specific request of Senior Police Inspector because every day from 9th January 1993 there was some serious incident or the other taking place in the area.

24.11 There are seven cases of Muslims being accosted by miscreants and stabbed after ascertaining their identity (C.R.Nos.16, 19, 21, 27, 32, 33, 34, 35, 40, 51 and 55 of 1993). This had happened in the December 1992 phase of the riot also in two cases (C.R.Nos.322 and 325 of 1992).

24.12 In seven cases, incidents of ransacking and looting of Muslim properties took place (C.R.Nos.36, 37, 38, 42, 43, 45, 46 and 49 of 1993). There is one case of an establishment of a Hindu who carried on a small business being set on fire (C.R.No.47 of 1993).

24.13 That the major contributing factor for the communal violence in January 1993 was the Shiv Sena or the Shiv Sainiks is evident from the material on record. The police had preventively arrested 30 Hindu boys on 11th January 1993, 33 Hindu boys on 13th January 1993 and another 20 Hindu boys on 14th January 1993. This preventive action gave rise to a morcha by about 400–500 women led by Vasant Joglekar and Suresh Kale, local Shiv Sena Shakha Pramukhs. This morcha was taken to the police demanding that all those preventively arrested should be released unconditionally. Apart from the two local Shakha Pramukhs, one MLA and one MP of Shiv Sena had also led the morcha.

24.14 According to Senior Police Inspector, even prior to 9th January 1993 it had occurred to the police that the supporters of Shiv Sena were indulging in and were likely to indulge in riot–related offences. There are no known Muslim communal organisations carrying on activities in this area, according to the police.

24.15 There was a case of a private firing from Ismail Building directed towards Shivaji Nagar. Though it was obviously done by some Muslims from the Ismail Building, there is no material to identify the miscreants.

24.16 The communal violence in January 1993 started on 9th January 1993 at 0230 hours by an incident in which a Muslim was stabbed near Mahajani Path.

24.17 There was a serious incident at Hari Masjid on 10th January 1993 (C.R.No.17 of 1993) in which six persons, all Muslims, died of police firing and one Hindu, Kamlakar Sudhakar Ghadge, died as a result of burns. Though the police claim that one Mukhtar Banoo had died in public firing, the material on record contradicts this assertion and the Senior Police Inspector was forced to admit that there was no material on the basis of which this conclusion could be arrived at. According to police, on 10th January 1993 a large crowd of about 2,000–2,500 Muslims, armed with deadly weapons, collected at Hari Masjid and was seen menacingly advancing on RAK Marg towards Sukkur Panchayat Bhavan and Sahakar Nagar, setting fire to huts and vehicles and that there was private firing from Hari Masjid. A police contingent led by Sub–Inspector Kapse and his men resorted to firing to control the mob. The number of rounds fired in this incident is as high as 64. Fifty miscreants are allegedly arrested on the spot out of which 17 were allegedly found with deadly weapons. This firing resulted in death of seven persons and injuries to six persons.

24.18 The version put forth by the police is open to serious doubt. It is admitted by the Senior Police Inspector that the inclusion of Hindu properties as damaged during the incident of C.R.No.17 of 1993 was erroneous and actually there was no damage to any Hindu property though there are several Hindu properties in the vicinity of Hari Masjid. None of those establishments were harmed. There was also no complaint made by any one from Sukkur Panchayat Bhavan that they apprehended an attack on them. The panchanama about the recovery of dead bodies does not correctly describe the exact place where the blood stains were found, but merely describes that it was at about a distance of 20 feet from the footpath in front of Hari Masjid. This recording in the panchanama is quite susceptible to the conclusion that the blood stains were on the premises or within the masjid premises, if 20 feet are measured in the westerly direction. The panchas also say in the panchanama that when they went to the shed used for namaaz in the masjid they had seen large patches of dried blood. Though the police mention that one Mukhtar Banoo and one Hindu, Shravan Malhari Killari, were injured in private firing in front of Hari Masjid, it is established that Mukhtar Banoo died in police firing. Apart from Shravan’s saying so, there is no corroboration that he was injured in private firing. No statement of any persons, not even of the police personnel who had seen Killari being injured, is recorded. Killari in his statement merely says that the bullet which injured his finger had come from the direction of Hari Masjid and in the meanwhile the police came and got into action. There is no complaint from any member of public that Killari was injured in private firing. The bullet injuring him has not been recovered. Other than the statements of police and Killari’s own statement, there is no other material to believe that there was private firing from the premises of Hari Masjid. Soon after the incident the police raided the Hari Masjid, but they recovered no fire–arms.

24.19 Witness after witness has come before the Commission and given evidence as to how the police resorted to unprovoked firing in Hari Masjid. Witnesses categorically assert that the Muslims numbering about 100 had gathered for the afternoon namaaz between 1300 to 1330 hours and while they were in the process ofnamaaz suddenly police barged in and started shooting. That the police entered the premises and resorted to shooting is clearly established by the evidence. The case of the police that they had not entered the masjid premises, and that they had not carried out firing in the premises and that all firing was done on the road is difficult to accept in the face of clear acceptable testimony of several witnesses who were present at the time of namaaz. The evidence of the witnesses testifies to the manner in which the police resorted to firing and further to the brutal manner in which the namaazis were assaulted and some of them were fired at from almost point–blank range.

24.20 The evidence of Ehatram Ali (Witness No.258–CPI) shows that the police entered the masjid from RAK Marg side entrance when he had just finished the namaazand was doing salaam. The police then started firing and took away some of the namaazis. The police made namaazis stand in a line and forced one Adam and another person to pick up dead bodies and put them in the vehicles and after herding them in the vehicle took them away. To similar extent is the evidence of Abdul Rehman Insan Ali (Witness No.250–CPI). He said that when he was in the process of doing namaaz he was hit by a bullet. When he looked up he saw the police on his left hand side. The police consisted of one officer and four constables who had already come inside the inner–half of the masjid. Curiously, there is no panchanama made by the police showing where the body of any person killed by bullets was found. Although there are Hindu shops immediately adjacent to Hari Masjid, there is no statement recorded of any one of the shopkeepers, though the police say that the mob was chanting slogans, "Pakistan Zindabad, Allah–O–Akbar, Kafir ko mar do, Hinduonko maro, Police ko maro, Duniya ke Nakshe par se Hindustan ko mita do". The crime reports written by the investigating officer do not indicate that any persons were interrogated for information about the incident in the Hari Masjid or to confirm the fact that such slogans were shouted by the mob.

24.21 There is contradictory record of the police. In the Inquest Form (Exh. 2622–JE), in respect of body in ADR No.23 of 1993 sent under the signature of Sub–Inspector Suryawanshi to the Coroner, Bombay, it is stated in columns 7, 8 and 9 that on 10th January 1993 at about 1300 hours there was a clash between Hindus and Muslims on RAK Marg in front of Hilal Masjid (Hari Masjid) by throwing stones and causing damage to public property during which the police intervened and resorted to firing to quell the mobs and that the dead person was injured in the firing while she was passing along the road. Again in ADR No.29 (Exh. 2623–JE) identical circumstances are written.

24.22 Senior Police Inspector himself reached Hari Masjid at about 1330 hours upon receiving information. He admitted that Sub–Inspector Kapse, who was present there, did not tell him that a Hindu mob was there, but merely told him that police had encountered a large mob of about 2,000 Muslims throwing stones, bottles etc. at the police and that there was private firing from Hari Masjid. The entry at 1254 hours on 10th January 1993 in the Control Room Log Book shows that RAK–I–Mobile gave a message, "on the spot. There is trouble going on between Hindus and Muslims, Hari Masjid, firing is going on". When confronted with all these documents, the Senior Police Inspector was unable to say why there is no reference whatsoever in the case papers of C.R.No.17 of 1993 to the presence of a Hindu mob, nor was he able to say who was responsible for this glaring omission. All witnesses whose statements are recorded in this C.R. state that the firing was resorted to under the orders of Police Sub–Inspector Kapse. There is also no panchanama indicating seizure of weapons from any of the arrested accused. All these circumstances make it difficult to accept the story put forward by police. For these reasons the Commission had issued a notice under Section 8–B of the Commissions of Inquiry Act to Police Sub–Inspector Kapse on 27th June 1994. Kapse has given no explanation with regard to the allegations made against him. The evidence of the witnesses also suggests that a SRP group was present when the firing took place at Hari Masjid. The witnesses commended the role played by one Sardarji in SRP uniform who rebuked Kapse that he had done enough and helped the namaazis to get away from that place. Sheikh Naushad Ali Abdul Shakoor (Witness No.252–CPI) who was present in the dyeing factory adjacent to the Hari Masjid testifies to the presence of a large Hindu mob of 2,000–3,000 spread along Naigaum Cross Road and on the Road on which Talwalkar’s gymnasium is located. According to him, this mob was attacking his factory. At this time police came and saw the big mob indulging in stone throwing. They did not stop them, but went straight towards the junction of Naigaum Cross Road and RAK Marg and went to Hari Masjid. Soon thereafter he heard the sound of firing. He also talks of Sardarji SRP jawan who was along with SRP troupe who had accompanied Sub–Inspector Kapse. This witness has suffered a fracture in his left upper arm elbow joint on account of assault by rifle butts. When he applied for compensation on the basis of his medical certificate, one officer by name Shirodkar in the office of the Collector of Bombay told that because he was a government servant he was not entitled to any compensation and destroyed the draft which was kept ready. A clarification by a circular dated 6th July 1994 (Exh.1715-S) has now been issued that the State Government has taken a decision that Government and semi-Government employees were eligible for assistance to persons injured in riots. The Commission hopes that the Government would, in accordance with its revised policy, ensure that Sheikh Naushad Ali Abdul Shakoor is paid the compensation that he is eligible to.

24.23 Upon a review of the material on record of C.R.No.17 of 1993 the Commission is inclined to think that the version of police is wholly unbelievable and has been fabricated to support the unjustified firing of large number of rounds which resulted in killing of six Muslims. Though during the said incident there was a clash between Hindus and Muslims, the police deliberately suppressed the presence of Hindu mob of 2,000–3,000 in order to justify their unjustifiable conduct. The Commission’s view is that the role of Sub–Inspector Kapse in the entire incident is condemnable. He not only suppressed the presence of Hindu mob, but also misled the Senior Police Inspector on this count. He also fabricated the record to indicate that all firing took place outside the masjid premises. Since he did not care to offer any explanation despite service of a notice under Section 8B, the Commission has no reason not to accept the testimony of public witnesses and conclude that Sub–Inspector Kapse is not only guilty of unjustified firing, but also of inhuman and brutal behaviour during the incident.

24.24 The attempt of the Deputy Commissioner of Police Bishnoi to give a clean chit to Sub–Inspector Kapse by going to the extent of taking the responsibility of the firing at Hari Masjid on himself, may be bravery beyond the call of duty, but does not inspire confidence. When confronted with the statements of police personnel, Gajanan Shivram Bhor, Bhikaji Sidhu Bugade, Sham Kashinath Dalvi, Ramchandra Krishna Zanjurde and his own Gunner Bhalchandra Kamble, who all uniformly state that the firing was done by Sub–Inspector Kapse on his own before the arrival of Deputy Commissioner of Police Bishnoi, Bishnoi maintained that all of them must have been mistaken. Bishnoi maintained that all the 65 rounds fired at Hari masjid were fired in his presence, under his orders, that he ordered the firing and that Sub–Inspector Kapse obeyed his orders and directed his men to open fire. Loyalty to one’s subordinates is undoubtedly an excellent trait. Bishnoi needs to be commended for asserting his loyalty to Sub–Inspector Kapse in the face of all contrary testimony. The Commission, however, is not willing to accept his uncorroborated testimony against the testimony of all the others, who are themselves police personnel, including his own Gunner Kamble. The clinching piece of evidence is the Control Room Message at 1253 hours on 10th January 1993 in which message from RAK–I–Mobile to the Control Room is, "On the spot... there is trouble going on between Hindus and Muslims – At Hari Masjid, firing is going on". The glib explanation of Bishnoi about this message is that the wireless operator might not have seen what exactly was going on and might have given incorrect report without verifying the true facts. In other words, according Bishnoi, only he is true and every one else was wrong, because only he knew the facts correctly. A tall order, even for a Deputy Commissioner of Police!

24.25 This police station has the dubious distinction of having seen four grisly incidents of victims being hacked and their bodies being burnt or attempted to be burnt.

24.26 On 10th January 1993 in the morning a violent mob of Muslims of about 100–150 persons armed with swords, guptis, lathis, choppers etc. went on burning the vehicles on Zakaria Bunder Road. They found a lorry parked there whose driver was a Hindu. After ascertaining that he was a Hindu, the mob tied both his legs by a piece of wire, locked him in the driver’s cabin and set the lorry on fire which resulted in his being burnt alive (C.R.No.20 of 1993).

24.27 One young Muslim boy, Javed Ahmed Ismail, had gone for fetching milk from a milk–booth at about 0830 hours on 11th January 1993 and was thereafter unheard of. According to the mother of Javed, Tasleem Mohd. Ismail Sheikh, when her son did not return within a reasonable time she went to RAK Marg Police Station and enquired Sub–Inspector Kapse who was on duty there as to whether her son wearing a black shirt and a black pant, had been picked up by police. She was informed that her son had been caught by Shiv Sena workers and taken away. She continued to seek information from hospital morgues and also from her acquaintances and friends. She also continued to visit the police station regularly, but police recorded a non–cognizable case No.5 of 1993 only on 23th January 1993. Subsequently, she filed Criminal Writ Petition No.238 of 1993 before the High Court at Bombay seeking a writ of habeas corpus against the police and the State. In this Writ Petition, Murlidhar Baburao Ingale, Inspector attached to RAK Marg Police Station, had filed an affidavit dated 2nd March 1993 (Exh.1612–CPI) disclosing that the investigations had shown that Javed and another boy Samu Ahmed were attacked by a mob of 500–800 in Shiv Sena Nagari. The miscreants had taken the two dead bodies and burnt them in Christian cemeteries on 11th January 1993. In view of these circumstances disclosed by police, Criminal Writ Petition No.238 of 1993 was dismissed by the High Court vide its order dated 7th October 1993 (Exh.1613–CPI).

24.28 Shakeela Banoo Nurulla Sheikh Hussain (Witness No. 243–CPI) deposed that on 10th January 1993 at about 1030 hours three truck loads of men had come to Sanman Nagar where she resided. Those men went about systematically damaging the huts and kucchha structures in that area. She along with her children and husband Nurulla Hussain Sheikh fled from the area. While they were fleeing they were attacked by five–six people armed with wooden sticks, rods and swords. Her husband was attacked. One of the attackers poured inflammatory liquid on the body of her husband and set him ablaze. Shakeela Banoo and her children ran away from there out of fright and managed to reach Kurla. She says that she knew some of the attackers. She named Vilas, resident of a hut behind her mother’s hut in Sanman Nagar; Shiva, her mother’s immediate neighbour; Sallan Nandekar, a resident of adjacent gully; Ashok, immediate neighbour of her mother, and one Bandya also residing in the adjacent gully. According to her, the assailants were all Shiv Sainiks as they were shouting slogans, "Jeetega bhai jeetega Shiv Sena jeetega" and "landya log bahar niklo, tumhare Allah ko aur Rahim ko bulao." After this terrifying incident she went to the police station six–seven times to lodge a complaint, but nothing was done. Finally, on 18th January 1993 she was given a slip of paper bearing the words "AMR 18/1993 RAK Marg Police Station" indicative of registration of a missing person complaint. According to Shakeela on 18th January 1993 she had narrated fully the circumstances under which her husband was attacked. She was neither supplied with a copy of her statement, nor was she read out what had been written by the police. She has named one Bhagwat Madhav Koli, Assistant Police Inspector, who was on duty, who had declined to record her complaint on six or seven occasions. Neither her sister Nurunnisa, nor she, had told the police that her husband Nurulla Hussain Sheikh was missing from 2300 hours on 10th January 1993 when he left the house and thereafter had not come back. She asserted that she had told the police that her husband and nephew Naseer Abdul Rauf Sheikh had been mercilessly attacked and set ablaze after throwing petrol on them from a tin dabbawhich the attackers were carrying. She also says that thereafter out of fear she continued to reside in Kasaiwada, Kurla. When Mr.Sharad Pawar, the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, visited Kasaiwada, she had given an application in writing to him and that after ascertaining facts from her he had said that he would look into the matter. The Station Diary Entry No.3 dated 11th March 1993 (Exh.1722–P) of Nehru Nagar Police Station does indicate that Shri Sharad Pawar had visited Kasaiwada. Despite strenuous efforts by the learned counsel for police to discredit her testimony, the Commission is not inclined to disbelieve her evidence. The Commission suo motu had summoned and examined Assistant Police Inspector Bhagwat Madhav Koli.

According to Koli, Nurunnisa had come to the police station on 12th March 1993 for the first time, and on 14th April 1993 Nurunnisa, Shakeela Banoo Ahmed Ibrahim Patel and two others had come to the police station. In answer to a pointed question as to whether any of the complainants had told him the fact that husband of Shakeela was set on fire after sprinkling petrol, Koli claimed that he did not remember it, though he admitted that some of the gentlemen had talked to him in English on 14th April 1993. Strangely, Koli and Sub–Inspector Kapse were the two duty officers on 18th January 1993 in the police station. Though according to Shakeela (Exh.1716–P), she had a chit given in the hand–writing of Koli, he denies it. He also says that he does not know whose hand–writing the said chit is written, but does admit that such a note is normally issued only by the duty officers to enable the relatives to meet those in the police custody. Upon an assessment of the evidence the Commission is inclined to think that both Kapse and Madhav Koli had been not only remiss in the duty, but also that they fabricated the documents in the police station by not entering the actual complaint made by Shakeela. The Commission accepts the evidence of Shakeela that on 18th January 1993 she complained to police giving horrifying details of the circumstances under which her husband was attacked and set ablaze, but the duty officers, recorded only a sanitized version of the complaint. The Commission is inclined to believe that this must have been done by Kapse and Madhav Koli because they were biased against the complainant because she was a Muslim, or because they desired to protect the miscreants.

24.29 According to the evidence of Abdul Aziz Abdulla, resident of Sanman Nagar (Witness No.1650-CPI), on 10th January 1993 there was an attack on their colony by a huge mob of armed Shiv Sainiks who were shouting "Musalman ko maro–maro". The huts and kucchha structures were ransacked, looted and set on fire. Abdul, his wife and his eldest son Mohd.Javed alias Zahid were trying to escape when they were surrounded by a mob of 400–500 hundred Shiv Sainiks shouting, "ek landya ko nikalne mat dena, musalmano ko maro, Zahid la sodu naka", and attacked Abdul and his son with iron rods and swords on the head and all over the body. The son was attacked with swords resulting in serious injuries. When his mother tried to protect her son by covering his body with her’s, she was pulled aside and some one in the mob poured petrol on the body of Zahid to set him on fire. However, in the meanwhile, a police van came there and the miscreants ran away. The incident has left indelible stamp on the mind of Zahid who has become psychologically shattered. According to Abdul he had recognised the local Shakha Pramukh of Shiv Sena among the miscreants, though he did not recollect his name. Abdul knew him from the time he came to Sanman Nagar as the office of Shiv Sena shakha was situated on the road close by. In fact, Abdul asserted that if the police accompanied him, he could identify the person who had led the mob, even today.

24.30 Saleem Kareem Momin, resident of Shravan Rahivasi Sangh, deposed that on 11th January 1993 four Shiv Sainiks had broken open the door of his house shouting names of his brother Rafiq and himself and calling them out. Those were Leeladhar Lakhokar, Chandya Kadam, Viju Patil and Papa Patil who were all known neighbours. On 12th January 1993 at the instance of the old mother Saleem and rest of his family left for Sangli as they were afraid of the Shiv Sainiks who had threatened them and also because of the fact that the shakha of Shiv Sena was right opposite their house. While in Sangli Saleem received a telephone from his relative, Saleem Mehboob Momin, that boys of Shiv Sena had attacked his house, killed his mother on the door steps and burnt her.

This was witnessed by Kausar Sheikh, an employee of BEST who had specifically given the names of the above miscreants to the police, but no action had been taken by the police. Saleem’s statement was recorded in C.R.No.28 of 1993 when he came back on 16th January 1993 and visited police station. At the time his statement was being recorded he had no knowledge of the identity of the miscreants. After registering the case he used to go to the police station almost everyday. On one of such visits he met Kausar Sheikh who disclosed the names of the persons who had attacked and killed his mother. Thereafter Saleem took advise of an advocate and addressed a petition to the State Minister for Home Affairs, with copies to Commissioner of Police and other authorities including RAK Marg Police Station. When he went to the RAK Marg Police Station, Police Inspector Chavan said that it was useless writing petitions as ultimately the same would be referred to the police station and the police were already doing whatever was necessary. Saleem told Police Inspector Chavan that the miscreants named by Kausar and himself were still free and roaming in the locality. A constable was deputed to apprehend them. According to Saleem they are still free as they have not been apprehended. Saleem asserted that the persons who had attacked his mother were Shiv Sainiks. Statement of Kausar Sheikh has not been recorded by police. Saleem maintained that Leeladhar Lakhokar, Chandya Kadam, Viju and Papa Patil always used to sit in the Shiv Sena shakha Office. Sheikh Kausar Sheikh Hussain (Witness No.255–C) reiterated that he had seen the mother of Saleem Karim Momin, Rehamatbi being assaulted and thereafter being set on fire. He gave names of Balu, Leeladhar and two other persons whose names he was not sure. He also asserts that people who assaulted Rehmatbi were Shiv Sainiks as they were seen hanging about in and near Shiv Sena shakha Office. Balu is an activist of Shiv Sena and no police station had recorded complaint in connection with the incident. He maintained that he did not know the names of Lakhokar, Chandya Kadam, Viju Patil and Papa Patil, though he knew them as residents of Shravan Rahiwasi Sangh. He had described them to the son of Rehmatbi who identified them by their names. Kausar maintained that he did not immediately complain to the police station because of the fear that he might be called to the police station. It is only after Saleem disclosed all the names in his affidavit and he was summoned by the Commission, Kausar decided to appear before the Commission and disclose all the names.

24.31 A peculiar feature of the riots in this area is that there are several cases of missing persons, all of them Muslims, and most of them from Sanman Nagar area. In each of these cases the witnesses have come before the commission and deposed as to the circumstances under which the missing persons were last seen. The circumstances indicate the strongest possibility of missing person having been murdered. However, the victims’ family has not been given any compensation on the ground that there is only a missing–person–complaint which is under investigation and unless a death certificate is issued they would not be eligible for compensation. The Commission had made a recommendation dated 20th May 1994 expressing its opinion that in all these cases circumstances placed on record indicate a preponderant possibility of the person/s having been killed and it would be inhuman to except the victims’ family to wait for the presumptive period of seven years before getting a death certificate and that such cases should be treated on par with the cases of deaths for compensation purposes. The Commission’s recommendation, however, seems to have fallen on deaf ears so far.

24.32 The Commission reiterates that in the circumstances brought before it, which the police by no means have been able to dispel, the Commission is satisfied that there is preponderant probability of the victims having been done to death. The Commission therefore recommends in the following cases that even at this stage the government should treat them on par with the cases of death as far as compensation is concerned :

1 & 2) Mohd. Faruq Qureshi and Saleem Quereshi are missing from Sanman Nagar from 10th January 1993. According to the evidence of his wife Hajirabi Mohd. Qureshi, when the family was having breakfast a mob of 2,500 miscreants suddenly attacked their colony. The family shut the door and windows of the house. Some of the miscreants in the mob jumped on top of the terrace, broke open the windows and door and entered the house. They caught her husband and son Mohd.Saleem aged 18 and started attacking them with knife, sickles, tube–lights, bottles on the head and cut off the hands of her husband and son right in front of her. Her prayers on bended knees to spare their life fell on deaf ears. The miscreants dragged out Mohd. Faruq and Saleem in an almost dead condition. Hajirabi started yelling and she was thrown down the terrace by the miscreants. She then became unconscious. After regaining consciousness, she started searching for her husband and son in their area. In her area she came across a known boy Vinod and she enquired from him about her husband and son. She was told that she would get information only after about three days. She then went to Palamkote Hall at Five Gardens where a temporary shelter was arranged. Thereafter on 11th January 1993 she went to the relief camp at Mahim along with the military. She subsequently visited all the hospitals and morgues attached to them, but was unable to get any information about her husband and son.

24.33 According to Hajirabi when she had gone to police station, on a date which she does not recollect, one officer had taken down what was narrated but her statement was not read over to her. The learned counsel for police handed over a document purported to be the recorded statement of Hajirabi dated 18th January 1993 (Exh.1633–P). Surprisingly, this contains no reference to the incident except a complaint about the attack on the house and ransacking and looting of household articles. Though Hajirabi stated that what was there is correct, it is not possible to conclude that her statement before Commission on oath is unbelievable. According to her the atrocities were committed on her by the local Shiv Sainiks whom she recognised when they dragged her husband and son away.

3) Ibrahim Khudabaksh Quereshi, resident of Sanman Nagar, is missing from 10th January 1993. His wife Khatunbi gave evidence before the Commission. On 10th January 1993 a mob of 100 people armed with iron bars, swords, choppers and guptis attacked their house shouting, "come out of the house, get out all the landyas, kill the landyas" etc. Some of them were local residents. The miscreants broke open the house, damaged, destroyed and looted the articles in the house and assaulted and killed her husband Ibrahim. Ibrahim was assaulted several times with iron bars, swords and gupti all over his body and was dragged him away and thereafter she has not seen the body thereafter. Her son Mohd. Arif was similarly attacked. However, he managed to run away and reached safety. She had on the very day made a complaint to the police station but no action was taken by the police nor was a complaint recorded. An FIR was lodged only on 1st February 1993. There has been no trace of her husband or his body despite enquiries made with the hospitals and attached morgues. Khatunbi deposed before the Commission that she could recognise some of the persons in the mob like Ghasletwala Thakur, Chanawala Bhayya who runs a chana–stall at the corner of the street, Inash and Sallan Nandekar. Ghasletwala has a shop on the road where he sells kerosene. There was also one Kalya Patel. Inash is a bootlegger carrying on his business at some distance and Sallan Nandekar runs a taxi. According to her the persons who attacked her husband were Shiv Sainiks as they were wearing saffron coloured head–bands and shouting "Shiv Sena has come". She said that when she first went to the police to make a complaint, Senior Police Inspector Tipnis did not take any action. She also says that when the complaint was actually recorded she had pointed that the miscreants were actually Shiv Sainiks, though she did not disclose the names of the miscreants due to the tension which was existing at that time. The manner in which the concerned C.R.No.14 of 1993 has been investigated and records maintained has been critically commented upon by the Commission in the note made while recording the evidence of this witness. There is also discrepancy between what is stated to be the original statement of this witness and a xerox copy admittedly supplied to her.

4 & 5) Nurulla Sheikh Hussain, resident of Sanman Nagar, is missing from 10th January 1993. The Commission has already discussed the evidence of his wife Shakeela Banoo indicating the circumstances under which her husband Nurulla and nephew Naseer Abdul Rauf Sheikh are missing.

6) Rafiq Ahmed Mulla Sheikh, resident of Wadala Sewri Cross Road, is missing from 10th January 1993. Badruddin Mohd.Ali, a nephew of Rafiq, deposed that on 10th January 1993 their area was surrounded by rampaging mobs armed with deadly arms with which they were attacking all in the area. In order to save their lives, Rafiq and he were going towards Wadala station when they were surrounded by 300 persons armed with swords, choppers, guptis etc. The mob attacked Rafiq mercilessly after which he was dragged near a peepul–tree and again assaulted with guptis and iron bars, as a result of which he fell down. Badruddin ran away and reached safety at Antop Hill from where he went to his native place. He came back to Bombay on 10th February 1993 after learning that the situation had become normal. He made enquiries with all known persons and also in hospitals and morgues attached to them, but was not able to trace the whereabouts of Rafiq. According to Badruddin there is a Shiv Sena shakha near the peepul–tree where his uncle was attacked. Badruddin says that while walking towards Wadala Station he was a little ahead of his uncle and that his uncle had a typical beard. Since Badruddin did not have a beard the mob might not have connected him with his uncle as a Muslim and that is how his life was saved.

7) Mohd. Adam Hassan Sayyed, resident of Shahid Nagar Zopdi, is missing from 10th January 1993. Roshanbi Hassan, mother of Mohd. Adam, deposed before the Commission that on 10th January 1993 their area was attacked by a mob of about 5,000 Shiv Sainiks armed with tube–lights, choppers, swords, guptis etc. At that time her son along with other menfolk had gone to Hilal (Hari) Masjid for afternoon prayer when the news of the disturbance and attack on the masjid came. The women also were afraid and they stood near the Hilal Masjid. In a short time a police picket headed by Police Sub–Inspector Kapse came there. Though the attacking mob was outside the masjid, they did not deal with that mob but went inside the masjid and fired at people inside the masjid as a result of that some of them died. Her son Mohd. Adam came out of the mosque during the firing and the police caught hold of him. After the firing was stopped he was asked to pick up dead bodies and put them in the van. Thereafter, he was also taken in the van by Kapse and his men. Next day she went to the police station at about 0800 hours and enquired about her son. She was told that her son was not in the lockup. She visited the police station for eight days. She also checked at her home town.

Police refused to disclose what happened to her son. On 15th January 1993, she had gone to the police station when she was told that her son was in the Bhoiwada lock–up. She was given a chit (Exh.No.1663) to enable her to meet her son. When she went to Bhoiwada lock–up she was told that her son was not in that lock–up. Some of the persons in the lock–up also told her that her son was not there. The chit (Exh.1663) produced by Roshanbi is signed by Sub–Inspector Kapse, dated 15th January 1993 and addressed to the officer–in–charge of Bhoiwada lock–up. The chit states, "Hafeeza Mohd. Adam Sayyed may be permitted to meet accused Mohd.Adam Sayyed aged 34 if he was in the lock–up". Roshanbi asserts that the last time she saw her son Mohd. Adam was in front of Hilal Masjid when he was picking up dead bodies and putting them in the police van under the direction of police and that thereafter he was taken away in the police van. That Mohd. Adam was lifting the bodies and putting in the van is also corroborated by Ehtaram Ali (Exh.1714–CPI). Complaint was made to the Commissioner of Police on 20th January 1993 putting the facts on record and her apprehension that police might have murdered him, but she received no reply. Roshanbi also addressed a petition to the then Commissioner of Police Amarjit Singh Samra, ex–Inspector General of Police, D.W.Pradhan, and Babanrao Pachpute, the then Minister for State, Home Affairs. None of them seem to have elicited any reply. She filed Criminal Writ Petition 237 of 1993 before the High Court of Bombay, seeking a writ of habeas corpus. Unfortunately for her, the High Court relied on the affidavit made on behalf of the police that the name of Mohd. Adam Sayyed Hassan was not found on the record of the persons apprehended either on 10th January 1993 or even on 9th or 11th of January 1993. It was also not contained in the lock–up register and, therefore, the police had not taken Mohd. Adam away.

An offer made by the learned advocate for Roshanbi before the High Court for recording her evidence was not acceded to by the High Court on the ground that there was no supporting material to come to the conclusion that Mohd. Adam was taken away by the police and that the police were falsely stating that Mohd. Adam was not taken into custody. In the result, the writ petition came to be dismissed and the rule was discharged with the observation that the learned Judges shared the feelings of the petitioner but were unable to grant any relief in the writ petition. The case of Roshanbi was unfortunate. Had the evidence before the Commission been available to the High Court, perhaps, the High Court might have taken a different view. After assessing the evidence on record, the Commission is inclined to believe that the police had taken Mohd. Adam in the police vehicle and thereafter he is missing and has not been heard of by persons who should have normally heard of him.

24.34 The role played by the Muslim miscreants also needs notice. In the incident on 11th January 1993 at about 1900 hours a Muslim mob threw fire–balls at the huts of the labourers of a construction contractor inside Spring Mills Compound. This invited retaliation. Huts were set on fire and the police had to resort to firing to control the mobs. In this case it is alleged that somebody from the Muslim mob had fired at the police party. Four Muslims, Zakar Raja Khan, Abdul Rehman Abdul Majid, Rehman Rahimtula Khan and Shaukat Ali Hassan Charne Baksha, had received bullet injuries in the firing. Police have registered a case in this regard (C.R.No.26 of 1993). One of the accused, Zakir Raja Khan, was admitted to the Sion Hospital and three live bullets were found in the pocket of his clothes. Statement of the Nurse, Sobi Baby, confirms this. Surprisingly, there is no action by police to ascertain as to what was the calibre of those bullets was and how Zakir came to be in possession of these live bullets and whether he was in possession of a fire–arm. The follow–up on this is extremely unsatisfactory.

24.35 There is also a case of a Hindu, Narayan Bogaiya Arjun, who was accosted by a Muslim mob near Wadala Gave No.6 opposite a Masjid and was stabbed (C.R.No.25 of 1993).

24.36 Two petrol bombs were recovered on 12th February 1993 and sent to the Bomb Squad for defusing (C.R.No.26 of 1993). However, it is not understood what special expertise is required to defuse a petrol bomb and what was the necessity of sending these petrol bombs to the Bomb Squad for defusing, as pulling out the wicks would have been sufficient to defuse the them. Perhaps, there is some justification in the stand of the Shiv Sena. Shiv Sena claims that this was a cover up on the part of police and what was recovered were regular bombs which had to be sent to the Bomb Squad for defusing them. In fact, the material on record suggests that an organisation known as Tanzeem–Allah–O–Akbar had instigated young Muslims to explode two such crude bombs on the roofs of some huts in the Sewri area and they were actually apprehended in the process.

No comments:

Post a comment