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Mumbai riots 1992: Srikrishna Commission report and action taken

he riots in December 1992 and January 1993 left close to 900 dead and as many as 2,036 people injured in Mumbai.

Written by Zeeshan Shaikh | Mumbai |
Updated: December 6, 2017 9:28:10 am
mumbai riots, babri masjid demolition Friends tend to an injured man in Mohammad Ali road, Mumbai during the 1992 riots. Express Photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi

* On January 25, 1993, the Government of Maharashtra headed by the Congress constituted a commission of inquiry under Justice B N Srikrishna (then 51) to look into the causes of the riots that engulfed Mumbai in December 1992 and January 1993 and to also find out if any group of individuals or organisation was responsible for them

* In 1995, the terms of reference were expanded by the subsequent Shiv Sena-BJP government to include investigation into the cause of the Mumbai blasts of March 1993 too

* In January 1996, the commission was disbanded by the Sena-BJP government on the ground that it had taken unduly long time to produce its report and that its report, even if produced, was only likely to open old wounds that had healed. It was reconstituted in May 1996 due to pressure from civil groups and prodding by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who wrote a letter to the state government

* Recording of evidence started from June 24, 1996, and came to an end on July 4, 1997, during the course of which the commission recorded the evidence of 502 witnesses, whose depositions run into 9,655 pages, and also took on record 2,903 documents as exhibits (about 15,000 pages) and 536 orders were passed. 2,126 affidavits were filed before the commission, of which two were by the government, 549 by the police and 1,575 by members of the public. It submitted its report in February 1998

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Read | Mumbai riots 1992: 25 years on, some have given up, some still hope for justice

mumbai riots, babri masjid demolition People fleeing their homes during a curfew in the Mumbai riots of 1992. Location unknown. Express Photo

* The commission said the December 1992 phase of the rioting by the Muslims was a spontaneous reaction of leaderless and incensed Muslim mobs. It stated that the January 1993 phase commenced from 6th “by the Hindus brought to fever pitch by communally inciting propaganda unleashed by Hindu communal organisations and writings in newspapers like Saamana and Navaakal. It was taken over by Shiv Sena and its leaders who continued to whip up communal frenzy by their statements and acts and writings and directives issued by the Shiv Sena Pramukh Bal Thackeray.” It also stated that there was “no material on record suggesting that even during this phase any known Muslim individuals or organizations were responsible for the riots, though a number of individual Muslims and Muslim criminal elements appear to have indulged in violence, looting, arson and rioting”.

* Prominent Shiv Sena leaders named by the commission include Bal Thackeray, Gajanan Kirtikar, Madhukar Sarpotdar and Milind Vaidya

* The commission also spoke about the “built-in bias” of the police force against Muslims

* It listed 11 incidents in which 31 police officers were found actively participating in riots, communal incidents or incidents of loot and
arson and so on. It recommended that the government take strict action against them

* In its action-taken report, the Sena-BJP government said Special Civil Code for the minorities, reversal of decisions in the Shah Bano case, opposition to the singing of Vande Mataram, use of loudspeakers for namaaz and the inconvenience caused to the public because of the obstructions on streets created by namaaz offering mobs, the honorarium granted to maulvis, the concession granted for Haj pilgrimage also led to further bitterness between Hindus and Muslims. This alienation and mutual distrust are responsible for the occasional occurring riots and the riots started on December 6, 1992, and thereafter, and January 6, 1993, and thereafter, it said

* The government said while it accepted the commission’s recommendation to improve policing in the state, it “cannot agree with the conclusions of the Commission”.

* The recommendations were never accepted by the Congress-NCP government after it came to power

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