Jobs @ MG
Is the Srikrishna Commission Report finally
|The latest round is
just one more example of political games, argues MH Lakdawala
Mumbai: Is the Srikrishna Commission Report finally being implemented?Now
that an FIR has been lodged against former Mumbai police commissioner R D
Tyagi, who was then joint commissioner of police (crime) and who headed
the Special Operations Squad (SOS).
For the eight times since the DF government took over it announced the
action against Police officer indicted by the commission.
The latest round is just one more example of the political games that have
come to characterize the handling of the worst communal violence Mumbai
has ever seen. Some critics have termed the exercise an ‘eyewash".
The sudden spate of actions by the Special Task Force (STF) gives the
impression that the Srikrishna Commission Report is finally being
implemented. But going after politicians, against whom the commission has
not recommended action, and not touching 22 of the 31 policemen against
whom strict action has been recommended, only shows that for Chhagan
Bhujbal, who is the final word on this matter, the Srikrishna Commission
Report is only a political weapon against his opponents.
For the charges filed against the Shiv Sena leaders last week, are equally
amazing. Gajanan Kirtikar (coincidentally, also an ex-minister of state
for home), Nandkumar Kale, Ravindra Waikar, Raghunath Kadam and Sridhar
Khadye have been charged with criminal intimidation, ie, threat to cause
death or grevious hurt, or to cause the destruction of property by fire,
or to cause an offence punishable by death?(section 506 Indian Penal Code
Justice Srikrishna has not recommended any action against them in his
report.But by all these prosecutions, Bhujbal has gained a lot of public
Moreover Tyagi has still not been arrested. Normally, an arrest follows
immediately, as a matter of course, when any FIR for murder is registered.
Should there be an exception now? Though police commissioner M N Singh
said there would not be any arrest ``at the moment,’’ Lawyers largely
feel that an arrest ought to be made or the public would believe that the
police get preferential treatment.
Nine persons, including five bakery employees, were killed in police
firing on that day at the Suleiman Usman bakery on Mohammed Ali Road in an
operation led by Tyagi, then the joint commissioner (crime).
The police had told the Srikrishna commission that suspected pro-Pakistan
militants were taking potshots at the police picket from the bakery from
the morning of January 9.
Inspector A K Ingle, the senior most policeman on the scene between 9.30
am and 12.30 pm on that day, testified that he had seen eight to ten
miscreants on the roof, one with a sten gun and another with a revolver.
The inspector ordered retaliatory fire in which 18 rounds were fired.
After this, Tyagi arrived on the scene and 31 more bullets were fired by
the police at the suspected ultras.
According to the police, 78 persons were arrested after the operation.
However, none of those arrested or killed were terrorists. Besides, no
policeman or civilian suffered any injuries whatsoever. "The police
also failed to produce the empty shells of bullets fired at them by the
suspected ultras,'' said an STF investigator.
Indicting Tyagi and two other officers of the Special Operations Squad
under him for "excessive and unnecessary firing'' in the Suleiman
Usman bakery case, the commission had recommended action against them.
Dr Pritam Phatnani, the expert assessor appointed by the commission had
said that "the post-mortem of the nine bodies are suggestive of the
victims being shot in the back while fleeing''.
The public witnesses examined by the commission gave graphic descriptions
of how the inmates of the ‘madrasa' next to the bakery were shot in cold
blood. In fact, one of the nine shot was a ‘maulvi'.
"This is one incident where the police appeared to be utterly
trigger-happy and used force utterly disproportionate to meet the
apprehensions of private firing, assuming there was one,'' said the
Justice Srikrishna in his report.
However, the Shiv Sena-BJP government ignored all this and instead
appointed Tyagi as the police commissioner of Mumbai in 1995.
Later, a government committee headed by the additional chief secretary
(home) exonerated Tyagi. It cited two reasons for doing so-that ‘service
rules' forbid prosecution three years after retirement and that Tyagi was
only doing his duty. What duty Mr. Tyagi had discharged then? Killing
In the affidavit,to the supreme court the DF coalition has praised the
Mumbai Police for its secular, impartial and free from bias character.This
is in stark contrast to the commission report which had categorically
stated that the police are biased against the Muslims.Justice Srikrishna
has pointed out how the police response to Muslims' appeals was ‘cynical
and utterly indifferent? It says,on occasions the response was that they
were unable to leave the appointed position., the attitude was that one
Muslim killed was one Muslim less. Muslims were given ‘harsh and brutal
treatment sometimes bordering on inhuman (behavior). ‘Registered
riot-related cases were ‘unsatisfactorily investigated’. Showing lack
of enthusiasm, lackadaisical approach and utter cynicism. Clues were not
chased if the suspects happened to be ‘Hindus with connections to Shiv
The roles of the police force in the riots have also been exposed during
the examination of various witnesses by the commission. Testimonies of
former additional chief secretary (Home) Jambunathan Srinivas Iyer, then
additional commissioner of police V. N. Deshmukh and others brought out
the cold facts before the commission, that the Sena men in uniform aided
and abetted the Sena workers to commit pogrom against the Muslims.
The report of the People's Rights Commission comprising Justice H Suresh
and Justice A. Daud, found as many as 60 top officials in the police
department guilty of committing atrocities on Muslims.
Now famous transcript of the police wireless message (see box) presented
before the commission made it crystal clear that police force have many
elements carrying hatred against the Muslims.
In spite of these facts all recorded before the Srikrishna commission DF
government dares to say that guilty policemen acted in line of the duty
and are free of communal bias. In fact, the contamination of police is one
factor that comes out whenever riots between Hindus and Muslims are
Justice Srikrishna, had said that the time has come for Retribution and
for the guilty to be exposed. Laxity in enforcing the writ of the law and
meting out the punishment prescribed by the law will send out all wrong
signals to both law breakers and law enforcers all over the country. q
DONGRI 1 TO POLICE CONTROL: Two military trucks have come carrying milk
and other rations. Led by Major General (Retired) Syed Rehemtullah,
therefore, a crowd has gathered at IR road near Bhendi Bazar. Please send
some more men.
VOICE: Why the f?is you distributing milk to them laandyas [Abuse for a
circumcised person]? Do you want to f?their mothers? Miyan (Muslim)
DONGRI I (agitated): there are lots of police here. Let them distribute
VOICE: why is distributing milk to them? Are you doing them a favor or
V. P. ROAD TO CONTROL: A mob has gathered outside Maharashtra garage. Ghas
galli. Lamington road with the intention of setting it on fire. Send men.
VOICE: Must be laandya? garage. Let it burn. S?on? burn anything that
belongs to a Maharashtrian. But burn anything belonging to a miyan, the
(Excerpts from transcripts of
police wireless messages taped by Mumbai based journalist,Teesta Setalvad,
which was presented before Srikrisna commission. Excerpts from the
recordings were also published at the time in the New York Times).