FOR VICTIMS, activists and chroniclers of the 1992-93 Bombay riots, the Lucknow court’s order acquitting 32 of the surviving accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, was “not surprising”.
At a virtual meeting organised Thursday by four organisations — People Union for Civil Liberties, Citizens for Justice and Peace, Bebaak Collective and Forum Against Oppression of Women —most participants said they have seen that most of those who were perpetrators of the riots that followed the demolition had never been brought to book despite scathing indictment by the Justice B N Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry.
Farooq Mapkar, who was shot at inside Mumbai’s Hari Masjid — six people had died and many others were injured in a firing inside the mosque in 1993 — said similar “injustice” was meted out to him when the CBI filed a closure report before the magistrate’s court in 2016 exonerating a police official for the deaths.
“As an eyewitness to the incident, I kept my struggle on before various agencies and courts hoping that eventually there will be justice.
Different governments and investigating agencies, including the CBI, did not even attempt to bring those guilty to book,” Mapkar said. The magistrate’s court had accepted the CBI’s closure report and the sessions court upheld it after which Mapkar approached the Bombay High Court where his appeal is pending.
Mumbai-based lawyer Shakil Ahmed’s petition seeking to know the state government’s action on the 31 officers indicted by the commission, too, remains pending before the Supreme Court.
“A whole generation has grown up since 1992 when the Babri Masjid was demolished, and the 1992-93 riots, which took place in various parts of the country, including Bombay, in its aftermath. But for many like us, it was a turning point for the city and for the nation. The fact that the judgment took 28 years is a signal in itself,” said advocate Flavia Agnes, who founded Majlis Manch, a legal centre for women’s rights. Agnes had come out with a fact-finding report on the violence which took place after the Babri masjid demolition in Behrampada, Bandra (East), a predominantly Muslim area in city.
Activist and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) secretary Teesta Setalvad said the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was a political one and an effort to change the Indian secular republic into a majoritarian state. “In Bombay, the police had permitted victory processions celebrating the demolition in Pydhonie and Dharavi. While the accused in the Bombay serial blasts, which occurred on March 12, 1993, were tried before a special court set up for a fast-track trial, the same urgency was not shown to bring justice to the riot victims,” she said.
Currently, only one trial against nine policemen alleged to have fired at 11 men in Suleman Bakery in 1993 is going on.
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