Betrayal by the State: Policemen off the hook

Written by Teesta Setalvad | Published on: January 8, 2018

This article was published in Communalism Combat following Teesta Setalvad's RTI  Investigation into the promises made by the Congress- NCP Combine to punish the policemen indicted by the Justice BN Srikrishna Commission Report, February 1998.

We are reproducing it today considering its relevance.

Bombay Riots

Santosh Bane, Bombay 1993
Ten policemen have been exonerated in the Democratiic Front Government’s Affidavit in the Supreme Court (2000 September)

Rajendra Bhoi – expired.

RD Tyagi, Joint Commission of Police, (later police commissioner, Mumbai)

Srikrishna Commission’s findings:
“After carefully examining the evidence on record, the Commission is of the view that the story of the police does not inspire credence…The Commission feels that the police were very much influenced by the floating exaggerated rumours of attacks from sophisticated firearms… The result – deaths of nine innocent persons in the Suleman Bakery and adjoining premises. The evidence on record in no way bears out the policy story that they were terrorists, much less with deadly arms; nor does the evidence suggest that it was necessary for the police to carry out such an extensive firing as they did. 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. The responsibility for the incident must squarely fall on Joint CP, RD Tyagi who was overall in charge of the operation and API Deshmukh

DF Govt Affidavit:
“No action was proposed against RD Tyagi, then Jt Commissioner of Police, Mumbai for the reason that he had since retired on October 30, 1997 and service rules say if the event in question has taken place more than four year before action is precluded.” Further, the committee exonerated Tyagi while indicting two junior officers under him for the incident: “The Committee did not find that it was feasible to launch a prosecution against him, as the act was done in the discharge of his duty”. Departmental enquiry has, however, been ordered against Lahane and Deshmukh who were members of the Special Operation Squad (SOS) headed by Tyagi!

Dattaray Dhawale, Police Inspector, Nagpada police station

Srikrishna Commission’s findings:
“Police Inspector Dhavale overreacted by firing at a mob of 10-12 miscreants…resulting in injury to a two year old child… The Commission would have been inclined to pass off Dhawale’s case as an unfortunate incident, but a closer examination of the case papers in this case discloses peculiar features.” It is clear that the reason why the Judge recommended penal action against this policeman was because he has tried to tamper with the evidence and show that the mob was 100-120 strong rather than of just 10-12 persons.

DF Govt Affidavit:
“The firing was not unjustified and the injury caused to a 2-year-old child was accidental.”

Subhash Salvi, inspector and Vishnu More, sub-inspector, MRA Police station

Srikrishna Commission’s findings:
“In view of the Commission, Police Inspector Salvi, Police Sub-Inspector Mor and PC 24242 Vidyanath Raghunath Shelar are squarely responsible for virtually handing over Babu Abdul Sheikh to the mob resulting in his being virtually hacked to death.”

DF Govt Affidavit:

“They had done their duty by handing over the constable, Vidyadhar Shelar while in whose custody the injured person was attacked. A departmental inquiry has been initiated against Vidyadhar Shelar, police constable.”

VB Shinge, Shivgaunda Patil, Bhausaheb K Gaekwad, Antop Hill police station

Srikrishna Commission’s findings:
VB Shinge, Shiv Gaunda Patil, Bhausaheb Gaekwad “failed to protect the lives and properties of the Muslim victims”. From January 3, 1993, when a group of 15-20 Shiv Sainiks move around tin Pratikshanagar identifying and marking out Muslim homes with a white chalk mark, to January 9, 1993 when the physical attack took place on Muslim homes, including the burning alive of three Muslims in a car, all incidents took place within striking distance of the Pratikshanagar police chowky.

On April 20, 1993 Vinayakrao Raosaheb Patil was dismissed from service “for developing relationship with criminal elements”. The commission states that the conduct of other policemen from the Antop Hill police station, including VB Shinge, Shivgaunda Patil and Bhausaheb Gaekwad was not above aboard and the ‘massive operation launched by Hindu miscreants in Pratikshanagar was testimony

DF Govt Affidavit:
Committee: “As regards police inspector, police sub-inspector, VB Shinge, Shivaji/Shivgaunda Patil, Bhausaheb K. Gaekwad all working at the Antop Hill station at the relevant time, the committee came to the conclusion that the charge against them that they closed offences as ‘A’ summary (refused to pursue criminal case) and that they could have protected lives and property of Muslims was of a general nature… hence no departmental inquiry was necessary against them.

Shrirang Patade, Tardeo police station

Srikrishns Commission’s finding:
“Shrirang Pathade, popularly known as Richard Hawaldar was openly collaborating with the Shiv Sainiks in looting and violent activities.”

DF Govt Affidavit:
Committee: “There was no substance in the charges against him and hence no departmental inquiry was recommended.”
RTI as Tool of Investigation (Meena Menon)
First RTI application in Dec 2004 rejected under section 8.
  • First appeal rejected in Jan 2006 but second appeal allowed by CIC .
  • May 2007 replies from Mumbai police- eight cases against Thackeray, four withdrawn, two closed for lack of evidence and two cases had chargesheets delayed

CIC order
  • Second appeal heard by CIC and his final order in October 2010 saying text of orders withdrawing the case etc can be given to me
  • More delaying tactics and repliesstarted in January 2011, seven years after my RTI. Almost 20 cases under 153A of IPC.
  • In 2000 Home dept asked for all cases against Thackeray. Till date no permission for prosecution

Tahir Wagle case
  • Fourth investigation report in 2012 disbelieves eye witness evidence and says no case made out against police for the death of Shahnawaz Wagle in January 1993 outside his home. His sister Yasmin saw him being shot but no complaint was made andthis brazen cover up as Justice Srikrishna called it, will remainexactly that.

Crime and No Punishment
  • In the case of Suleiman Bakery , Supreme Court upheld the trial court and high court conclusion that none of the policemen though armed had fired a single bullet.
  • In the case of Star Metal works, the TADA court acquitted accused for lack of evidence. Nine people including two children were burnt to death

Missing Persons
  • Outside Vile Parle station, sandwiched among vegetable vendors, Rashida Kotawala has been mending bags ever since her husband went “missing” in the riots, along with his brother,   never to return. “If I had sat still hoping for his return, we would have gone hungry,” she says.

No Hawking License
Today her elder son Hussain is studying to be a surgeon while the younger one is doing ayurvedic medicine. Interest free loans from her community, the Bohras, helped her  educate her children. Her only fear  is the civic demolition squad which keeps confiscating her bags and other materials, since she doesn’t possess a hawking license.
RTI 2007
Guilty Policemen Unpunished Colaba Agripada
Srikrishna Commission Report
 Colaba: SI (subinspector), Vasant Madhukar More, API (assistant police inspector) Sahebrao Hari Jadhav, police constable PC-3181 Suresh Pandurang Ithape, PN-985 Shivaji Govindrao Kashid, PN-2238 Hanumant Pandurang Chavan and HC-3649 Gopichand Shaitram Borase. These police personnel were responsible for allowing the violent mob to hack to death one Abdul Razak alias Aba Kalshekar (CR No. 13 of 1993).

RTI findings by Teesta SetalvadAll these policemen were acquitted on November 18, 2005. Before this the policemen had simply been transferred.

Srikrishna Commission Report
Agripada: PC-23960 of LA-IV Ashok Naik and Rajaram K. Bhoir were arrested while indulging in rioting and violent activities (CR No. 98 of 1993). Ashok Naik was arrested by NM Joshi Marg police.
RTI findings: There has been no prosecution of these two policemen. Earlier, one of them was transferred and thereafter one has passed away.

Guilty Policemen Unpunished Byculla
Srikrishna Commission Report
Byculla: Sr PI (senior police inspector) Patankar, PI (police inspector) Wahule and SI Ramdesai. Their conduct during the riots was extremely communal. They refused to record complaints in which Hindus were the accused and harassed and ill-treated Muslims. Their conduct indicated attempt to shield miscreants belonging to the Shiv Sena (CR No. 591 of 1992). The government should also institute an impartial inquiry into the cold-blooded murder of one young boy, Shahnawaz Hassanmiya Wagle. The inquiry conducted by deputy commissioner of police Surinder Kumar is just an eyewash.
RTI findings: One trial, against PI Wahule, is pending. The other policemen have been exonerated without trial. There has been no fresh inquiry into the murder of the young boy, Shahnawaz Wagle, as directed by the commission.

Guilty Policemen Unpunished Dongri Mahim
Srikrishna Commission Report
Dongri: Joint commissioner of police RD Tyagi, assistant police inspector Deshmukh and police inspector Lahane of the Special Operations Squad are guilty of excessive and unnecessary firing resulting in the death of nine Muslims in the Suleiman Bakery incident (CR No. 46 of 1993).
RTI findings: RD Tyagi was discharged on April 16, 2003, state did not appeal the decision; sole witness Maulana ___appealed in the Supreme Court that shockingly discharged Tyagi in 2007. In  October 1995, under the SS-BJP regime, Tyagi was elevated to the post of commissioner of police, Mumbai
Srikrishna Commission Report
Mahim: Police constable Sanjay Laxman Gawade was openly indulging in riots and violent activities while carrying a naked sword along with Shiv Sena activist Milind Vaidya. Though the constable was placed under suspension and the sanction of the government was sought for his prosecution, the sanction has not yet been granted. The commission recommends that such sanction should be granted.
RTI findings: This is the only case where an accused policeman was dismissed from service, on August 20, 2003.

Guilty Policemen Unpunished LT Marg MRA Marg
Srikrishna Commission Report
LT Marg: Assistant police inspector Kamath, for utter dereliction of duty by not acting against the miscreants in the Diamond Jubilee Compound incident (CR No. 25 of 1993).
RTI findings: API Kamath’s increments were stopped for some months. There was no prosecution.
Srikrishna Commission Report
MRA Marg: PC-24242 Vidyadhar Raghunath Shelar, police inspector Salvi, police subinspector (PSI) More. Babu Abdul Shaikh had been taken into custody by them. But because of their conduct he was attacked and murdered by Hindu miscreants (CR No. 579 of 1992). Though the accused, all active Shiv Sainiks, have been arrested, the conduct of the police personnel is not beyond reproof.
RTI Findings: PC Shelar was kept on minimum pay scale for a year; no action was taken against PI Salvi.
Guilty Policemen Unpunished Nagpada Tardeo 
Srikrishna Commission Report
Nagpada: Police inspector Dhavale overreacted by firing at a mob of 10-12 miscreants throwing stones, resulting in injury to a two-year-old child. Constable Sanjay Bhosale was part of the miscreant mob which broke open and looted articles from the shop ‘Cat’s Collections’.
RTI findings: PI Dhavale was exonerated during trial; the state government did not appeal his exoneration.
Srikrishna Commission Report
Tardeo: PC-7783 Shrirang Pathade, popularly known as "Richard Hawaldar", was openly collaborating with the Shiv Sainiks in looting and violent activities.
RTI findings: PC Pathade was simply transferred and exonerated of all wrongdoing.

Guilty Policemen Unpunished RAK MARG ANTOP HILL
Srikrishna Commission Report
RAK Marg: Police subinspector NK Kapse’s act of unprovoked firing at Hilal Masjid [Hari Masjid] killed six Muslims (CR No. 17 of 1993).
RTI findings: PSI Kapse did not appear before Justice Srikrishna but was simply exonerated through a departmental inquiry on November 20, 2002. He has since been promoted.
Srikrishna Commission Report
Antop Hill: Inspector BB Shinge, subinspector Shivgonda Patil and constables AM Ghadi, AY Kamble, PS Dukare, DR Phadtare, SP Patil and BK Gaikwad failed to protect the lives and properties of the Muslim victims.
RTI findings: Charges were not proved against BB Shinge; Constable Ghadi was compulsorily retired; Kamble was kept on a minimum pay scale for two years; Dukare was suspended and kept on a minimum pay scale for one year; Phadtare was transferred and put under suspension while Patil and Gaikwad were transferred and exonerated.

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1. Mockery of Justice