A panch witness who deposed in a trial against seven policemen accused of killing nine Muslim men at a bakery during the 1993 communal riots has been declared hostile.
The panch witness was a footwear seller on Mohammed Ali Road. He told the court that he used to sleep on a footpath near Suleman Bakery. But he doesn’t know what happened in the bakery. On June 1, 2001, a few policemen came to him, without asking anything, they took his signature on a panchnama. He identified his signature on the statements and said he was not aware of the content in the statement. When he was confronted with the statement, he denied all content. The prosecutor then declared him hostile and said they don’t want to examine the next witness, who is also a panch witness, as he will not support the prosecution case.
The alleged incident took place on the premises of Suleman Bakery on January 9, 1993, but an FIR was registered only in 2001 after witnesses, including workers at the bakery and students and teachers of a nearby madrasa, filed affidavits before the Justice B N Srikrishna Commission that investigated the riots.
Initially, 17 policemen, including the then Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) R D Tyagi, were named in the case. But now, seven junior officers – Kalyanrao Vidhate, Sahebrao Phad, Sudhir Bane, Mohan Bhise, Purshotam Naik, Chandrakant Mohite and Ramakant Motling – are facing trial on various charges, including murder.