May 26, 2014 1:26:53 am
Seventeen months after a communal riot broke out in Dhule district, claiming six lives in police firing and leaving over 100 injured, the one-member judicial commission set up to probe the role played by the police will start its hearing on Tuesday.
The commission was set up to probe whether the police action was biased, and whether the firing was necessary. Members of the Muslim community had termed the police action unwarranted and alleged that the police indulged in religious taunts while shooting and beating up people.
Former Bombay High Court judge Shrikant Malte has scheduled the first hearing on May 27. The commission will begin with recording the statements of three victims who were injured in the police firing and lathi-charge.
The commission was scheduled to first visit the scene of the incident on May 26, before it begins recording of statements. However, the visit was cancelled at the last moment. “We were informed by the commission that since it (the visit) would coincide with the new Prime Minister’s swearing-in ceremony, they did not want any tension at the incident spot,” said lawyer Irfana Hamdani, who is representing the victims.
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The commission has received 417 affidavits in all — 400 from police personnel and 17 from the riot victims. Communal violence broke out in Dhule on January 6 last year over an argument between a Hindu man who owns a restaurant in Madhavpur near Machchi Bazaar and a Muslim autorickshaw driver. Five of the six people killed in police firing during the riots were named as accused. Four of them, including a minor, had been shot in the back, while one had received a bullet in his neck. One person shot at below his waist was not named in the FIR. While the community members alleged that the police fired “unprovoked” and without warning, the affidavits submitted to the commission by the police said the rioters had come prepared with acid to attack the police. This, however, was not mentioned in the three FIRs that were registered soon after the incident.
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