Hindu Vivek Kendra

Srikrishna Commission Report
Chapter IV

1.1 "The intelligence apparatus failed to gather crucial intelligence about the closed door meetings held by Bombay Muslim Action Committee on 2nd December 1992 in Madanpura and by Shiv Sena at Sena Bhavan on 29th December 1992. On several occasions police station concerned did not even have persons knowing Urdu to interact with Muslims and feel the pulse of Muslim community or even to read and understand Urdu writings. This also led to their inability to keep themselves apprised of the communal Urdu writings circulating in the city."

If the Muslim action was spontaneous, then why was there a need to keep a watch on the Bombay Muslim Action Committee? According to our information, this is a paper organisation, and the Dec 2 meeting was attended by religious and secular leaders. It was also attended by criminals, and those businessmen who operate at the edge of the law. At the meeting it was stated that if the police remain a spectator, then the Muslims would have no problem in attacking the Hindus. However, if the police do their job, then it would be difficult to foment trouble. It is quite clear that this organisation was prepared to create problem, and the myth of spontaneous reaction has to remain a myth. This committee is no longer in existence, since its utility of fomenting trouble is now over.

In his deposition to the Commission, Shri Shreekant Bapat, who was the police commissioner of Mumbai at the time of the riots said, "During a meeting at the Chief Minister’s residence, (the then) Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had questioned why the police should interfere if the Hindus and Muslims were fighting amongst each other. I politely told him that the police are expected to maintain law and order and cannot remain mute spectators." (The Times of India, March 20, 1997)

As far as the comments on Urdu writings, we are surprised that the Commission has chosen to ignore them. It could have taken a suo moto action to find out the extent of communal writings in the Urdu papers. The fact that the Commission feels compelled to make the comment that some police stations should have a Urdu reading person clearly indicates that the Commission at least suspects that there was communal writings in this section of the press. Even though the Shiv Sena lawyers asked the Commission to call for the relevant Urdu publications of the time, this request was denied. The Sena lawyers said that they have no knowledge of Urdu, and hence it will be impossible for them to know what was written. The Commission had asked for the writings in Saamna and Navakal to be made available to the Commission.

The Commission should have said that the keeping a track of Urdu writings should be the task of a central intelligence gathering machinery of the government and so avoid duplication. Whatever is appropriate information, the same could be passed on to the concerned police station.

1.2 "The Mahaartis were erroneously treated as purely religious activity and given full freedom, despite evidence that they were being used for political purposes......"

Whether the Mahaartis were for political purposes or religious is really not the issue. As the Commission itself has noted (Vol I, Chapter II, para 1.7(iii), page 13) it was in response to the Namaz on the street and the call of Azan on the loudspeakers from the mosques, which has disturbed the people surrounding the mosques. The Commission has accepted that the Mahaartis started from Dec 26, 1992, that is a good 20 days after the start of the riots.

There were a total of 462 Mahaartis starting from Dec 26. Out of these, up to Jan 5, the number was 52. Thus most of the Mahaartis happened in the Hindu retaliation phase. Yet these Mahaartis have been construed as a provocation by the media, certain politicians, and to an extent by the Commission.

The Commission has failed to look into the issue of why the Mahaartis stopped. In Feb 93, a meeting was convened by the government in which it was decided that the Mahartis would stop, and simultaneously so would the Namaz on the streets. While the first has happened, the second is still continuing. Even when the Sena-BJP government came to power in March 95, and the issue of additional FSI to the mosques was solved to the satisfaction of the Muslim community, the Namaz on the streets still continue. The Commission should have also gone into the issue of when the Azan through loudspeakers commenced, and the reason for granting the permissions for it. If the Commission had done its job, it would have come across another example of Muslim vote-bank politics. The tragedy is that the appeasement of the communal Muslim leadership seems to be accepted by the community as well as those who go under the label of secularist.

In Chapter II, para 1.7(iii), pg 13, the Commission says that the issue of Namaz on the streets and the Azan over the loudspeaker are ‘minor irritants’. This establishes the bias of the Commission. For the last over one year, there is a case going on in Calcutta on the issue of noise pollution caused by the Azan over the loudspeakers, and using loudspeakers in Hindu religious public functions. While the Calcutta High Court restrictions have been applied on the Hindu functions, the mosque issue is still open. It is understood that the Muslim religious leaders are egged on to disobey the High Court orders by the so-called secular political parties. In Mumbai, the High Court here had also asked the government quite a long time ago to do something about the nuisance of the Namaz on the streets. Why has the Commission ignored this?

The contention of the Commission is that because the Mahaartis obstructed the traffic, it was a nuisance, and hence suitable action should have been taken. Applying the same criteria, Namaz on the streets also obstructs traffic. But for the Commission this is a minor irritant.

1.4 "The police were hopelessly outnumbered as the strength of the police staff was inadequate by about 30% to 35% even to handle day to day problems. A fortiori it was hopelessly inadequate to handle extraordinary situations which arose during December 1992 and January 1993."

Even while the Commission accepts the undermaning of the police, it has consistently not accepted this reason for not taking up follow up action when it deals with the individual police station in Vol II. In particular, after an incident of private firing, the Commission has refused to accept the police version that they were unable to do a quick combing operation, and hence not locate the weapons used, because of lack of manpower. See para 1.10 below. Also this contradicts para 1.3 where the Commission says that the police were not able to effectively implement the prohibitory orders.

1.7 "The wireless communication equipment were not foolproof. This enabled communally affected policemen to successfully break into and intrude upon the police channel and transmit abusive, conflicting and confusing talk on the police wireless channels during the height of the communal riots when accurate communication on wireless channel was imperative."

This incident happened from one police station, only once and from a remote police outpost which sees no communal disturbance. Listening to the taped conversations, it is also clear that the control room was telling that police station to get off the air. As soon as the identity of the station was discovered, the necessary disciplinary action was taken. It is because of the Commission’s bias that it has not dealt with this angle of the whole issue. As in many other cases, the Commission has come to perverse conclusions on the basis of a single instance. However, where the Muslims are in bad light the Commission has rationalised their actions. It would have done credit to the Commission to have acknowledged that the police did take disciplinary action once the source of mischief was located.

1.9 This deals with the alleged ineffectiveness of the army.

The Commission has dealt with the issue of contradictions within the then political leadership of the governing party. It is not that the army was ineffective, but that they were not given clear cut instructions. Even at the time, there have been news paper reports about the in-fighting in the governing party due to which the army was not called out in time. Here is an attempt by the Commission to underplay the role of some of the politicians, who should have been held guilty of dereliction of their duties.

1.10 "There was no serious combing operations carried out even in cases where private firing was suspected. The excuse was that soon after the occurrence of the suspected private firing the police personnel on hand was small and by the time their strength had been augmented and combing was carried out it was too late to apprehend miscreants or unearth fire-arms. Consequently, though the police claim that there were so many instances of private firing, some even from sophisticated fire arms, they have not been able to seize any but one country made pistol."

The Commission contradicts itself once again. In 1.4, the Commission accepts that there is undermanning even in normal times. It is obvious that the Commission has pre-judged the whole issue, and has gone about collecting ‘facts’ which would conform to this judgement. There is also a need to recognise that the private firing has mostly taken place in Muslim dominated areas, where the criminals operate. Also, it is well known that these groups have sophisticated arms. However, in dealing with the individual police stations, the Commission has mostly dismissed that private firing took place. Hence, according to this conclusion of the Commission, the results of the search would have not disclosed anything.

1.13 "Police officers and men, particularly at the junior level, appeared to have an inbuilt bias against the Muslims which was evident in their treatment of the suspected Muslims and Muslim victims of riots."

In Chapter II, para 1.5, page 12, the Commission says: "Considering it from all aspects, the Commission is not inclined to give serious credence to the theory that disproportionately large number of Muslim deaths in December 1992 was necessarily indicative of an attempt on the part of the police to target and liquidate Muslims because of bias."

There is thus a major contradiction here. If there was a police bias to the extent that it affected their performance of their duty, then with the Muslims out in the streets, it would have provide them with a good opportunity to exhibit this bias. Even when the facts are given to them, the Commission persists in sticking to its pre-conceived notions. The way the police took action against Hindu rioters after Jan 10 (when clear instructions to fire, with the necessary political support, were given) it is clear that the police does not consider the religious identity of the persons.

1.15 The Commission has consistently maintained that whenever the Muslims came out on the streets the initial objective was peaceful. However, they were always provoked into being violent.

In one case of the Kherwadi police station (Vol II, para 16.3, page 94), the Commission says that the provocation was the sight of the police by the Muslim mob. This is yet another example of bias and pre-conceived notions. As a rule, the Commission has always said that the Muslim mobs that came on the street had peaceful intentions, but became violent for no fault of theirs.

1.16 "The adverse criticism of the police in handling the December 1992 phase of the rioting, which was aired in the media and from platforms by political leaders caused considerable demoralization of the force. Apart from demoralizing the force, it also induced a knee jerk reaction from the government at the political level with the Chief Minister instructing the police that his officers and men should ‘go slow’."

The Commission has not identified the names of the politicians, the reporters or the publication which have made the adverse criticism. In Chapter II, para 1.4, page 12, the Commission has accepted that these criticisms were unwarranted. Given the bias of the Commission, it is not surprising that the persons/institutions have not been identified. In fact, the Commission has accepted the testimony of a journalist who was one of the main person who made the adverse criticism.

1.16 "A specific broadcast message was issued on 8.12.1992 instructing the men not to fire while dealing with communal mobs. This order was very much in existence till countermanded by B.C. Message No. 457 on 10th January 1993. This order caused immense confusion amongst the police ranks since, in the interregnum, the officers and men. were not sure how to handle the mobs. Consequently, some of them continued to fire, but large number of officers did not fire, resulting in prolongation of the violent incidents."

The authenticity of this message has been challenged by the then Police Commissioner for the city and the then Chief Minister of the state. Whatever may be the case, there would appear to be some cause of confusion in the minds of the police force. It is obvious that they were influenced with the unjustified criticism by the media and some politicians of their action in the first phase of the December riots. There is also a need to understand the tactics that were used to target Hindus in the first phase of the January riots. This was to indulge in individual stabbing, which would have been very difficult for the police to handle, since the culprit would have gone away as soon as the crime was committed. It would appear that the Hindus had to take to self-defence, and hence the retaliation had started. The order which erased the confusion in the minds of the police came only after the Hindu retaliation had started. And during this phase the Hindu casualties with respect to police firing was higher than the Muslim.

There is an obvious inference that one can draw that if the confusing order not to fire had not been given on Dec 8, the situation would have been controlled much more quickly and caused much less damage to life and property. It is due to the Commission’s bias that it has not extended its argument in this direction. It is also due to the Commission’s bias that it has not come out strongly against the media and the politicians who have alleged that the police have specifically targeted the Muslims in December, when in fact, even as per the Commission’s own admission that this is far from the truth.

There is a need to specifically point out that the order was rescinded, or clarity on the action to be taken was restored, immediately after the Hindu retaliation had started in January 93. And going by the Commission’s own findings it is clear that the situation was brought under control quickly. If the police were not constrained, then the attacks on Hindus in the first week of January 93 would not have taken place, and hence there would have been no need to retaliate.

Here the Commission has contradicted itself with the paragraph immediately prior to this, when it has said, "Though there were some marginal violence like stone throwing, it should have been controlled by use of persuasion and minimal force." There is a clear opinion that the Commission has expressed that there was no need to fire on the rioters.

1.18 "The police, by their own conduct, appeared to have lost moral authority over the citizens and appeared to evoke no fear even in the minds of the criminal elements."

The moral authority was lost not because of the police action, but the way the media and some politicians projected the police action in a bad light for their own vested interests. As far as the criminal elements are concerned, the Commission has accepted as valid that one of the reason for the violence was the action taken by the police against criminals prior to December 92. This action was projected by the communal leadership and the so-called secularists as being targeted against the Muslims.

1.19 "The police firing was, on several occasions, ineffective and large number of rounds are said to have been fired without producing any visible effect. The police firing at least on two occasions appears to be unjustified, excessive and resulted in killing innocent citizens, one in the Suleman Bakery incident in Pydhonie jurisdiction and the other in the Hilal (Hari) Masjid in RAK Marg jurisdiction. The ensuing deaths on these two occasions were not justified at all."

This is really contradictory. On the one side, the Commission says that firing was ineffective, and then says that there was an excessive use of force. In case of the Suleman Bakery incident, while 9 were killed, 78 were taken as prisoners. If there was an excessive force, the numbers killed would have been much higher. The Commission has refused to look at the issue on the basis of a larger picture.

1.20 "Even after it became apparent that the leaders of Shiv Sena were active in stoking the fires of communal riots, the police dragged their feet on the facile and exaggerated assumption that if such leaders were arrested the communal situation would further flare up, or to, put it in the words of the then Chief Minister Naik, "Bombay would burn"; not that Bombay did not burn even otherwise."

We have no comments to make on what is patently a political statement.

1.21 "Though the police did take action in some cases against newspapers by registering offences. under section 153A of Indian Penal Code, such cases were kept pending for inordinately long time for want of sanction by the government. A large number of vituperative and communally inciting writing in newspapers was ignored by police, emboldening the writers of such material to greater heights of abuse, incitement and calumny."

Here it is pertinent to point out that two so-called concerned citizens of the country residing in Mumbai. The High Court said that it did not agree with the litigants that the writings broke any law of the land. In the High Court judgement, an opinion was given that a proper reading of the articles and editorial in Samnaa would clearly show that the objects of ire were not Muslims in general, but those who were working against the interest of the nation. It is indeed surprising that the Commission has chosen to ignore this judgement, and expressed a contrary opinion. An appeal was made to the Supreme Court, which did not even admit the same. All this had happened before the Commission finished its hearing and started to write the report. Moreover, the Commission is silent on what was written in the Urdu papers. And so were the two ‘concerned’ citizens.

1.22 "Despite knowledge of the fact that the force had been infected by communal virus, no effective curative steps were taken over a large period of time as a result of which communal violence became chronic and its virulent symptoms showed up during the two riot periods."

The Commission should have pointed out that this so-called virus was bred during the time when there was an allegedly secular government. Under the circumstances the Commission should have specifically blamed the governments that were in power before the Shiv Sena-BJP were elected in March 1995. It should also have been the job of the Commission to have investigated why the so-called effective curative steps were not taken.

The Commission also had the opportunity to inquite whether the communal virus exists while the present government is in power. After all, the Shiv Sena-BJP government claims that it has been able to maintain harmony and that there was only one communal incident during its reign.