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Back to the future

Author: Varsha Bhosle
Publication: Rediff on Net
Date: September 23, 2002
URL: http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/sep/23varsha.htm

Two weeks ago, columnist Dilip D'Souza sent me a mail, asking me to correct a mistake in Towards Balkanisation: Adivasis. I didn't, and the same mail came back! I realised, he's gonna keep forwarding the damn mail till I "correct." So, I apologise for having to take you back a decade -- to the Bombay riots of 1992-93 -- just to get him off my back. But before you get any ideas: this is the last time I'll "correct" anything in the fear of being swamped by recurring demands I've ignored. I write on stuff that tickles me at the precise point of writing, and the more someone goads me towards a subject, the more I shy from it. Five words: I will not be controlled.

So why'm I bothering with Bombay 1993? Well, because of Gujarat 2002. Though the manifestations of the two riots are markedly different, the underlying conditions are remarkably the same -- the Babri, the Hindu fury, the "secularist" reaction to Hindu deaths, the pinko propaganda. Should a report on the Gujarat riots be initiated now, learning more about the Report of the Justice B N Srikrishna Commission on the Mumbai riots of 1992-1993 would be a trip back to the future...

"It's not true that the Radhabai Chawl massacre happened on January 7. Nor is it true to suggest that it caused Bombay to burn. The Sena has effectively spread that last lie to cover its own crimes from before that day," is the gist of Mr D'Souza's message.

The date thing is easy: Volume I, Chapter II, Section 1.11, paragraph 1 of the Srikrishna Report states: "During the wee hours of 8th January 1993, at about 0030 hours, some of the Hindu residences in a chawl popularly known as Radhabai Chawl in Jogeshwari jurisdiction were locked from outside and set on fire by miscreants."

I suppose, people who go for a 10 pm movie are perfectly right in saying, "Oh, we came back from the cinema the next day!" But silly me takes 12:30 am as midnight and so I wrote, "On the night of January 7, 1993..." So sue me.

The second part is complicated. I stated -- and not "suggested" -- that Bombay burned after the Radhabai arson; the contrary theory -- as set forth by the Commission -- asserts that the Shiv Sena instigated and indulged in the rioting and murders. Indeed, the NGOs, "secularists," etc, have founded an entire industry based on laying all the evils at the door of Hindutva for destroying the derelict structure that was imposed on temple land. Which evil was pushed as the root cause of the Bombay riots then -- and is for the Gujarat unrest, now.

That Hindus -- including Dalits and Adivasis -- unaffiliated to political organisations can rise in anger is an event rejected by pinkos. This denial serves two purposes: One, to lull the submissive Hindus into thinking they are the nice-nice majority segment of Hindus while the rest are the "rabble" brainwashed by Hindutva; and, two, to keep the minorities believing that they never are at fault and that communal riots are spawned and perpetrated by the few rotten fundamentalist Hindus. How I wish.

It's futile going over the Radhabai Chawl massacre afresh; if you're interested in the sleights I perceived, read Selective leaks, Postmortem, Other myths to "internalise." I, for one, applaud then chief minister Manohar Joshi's statement in the Maharashtra assembly while presenting the Action Taken Report: "My government is outrightly rejecting the observations for the simple reason that they are not impartial. The commission appeared to be anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim, which is not acceptable to my government under any circumstances."

Even so, following are excerpts from the Srikrishna Gita, which backup my conviction about when Bombay burned and why:

* Volume I, Chapter II, Term No. (I), Section 1.7: iv) The last week of December 1992 and first week of January 1993, particularly between 1st to 5th, saw a series of stabbing incidents in which both Hindus and Muslims were victims, though the majority of such incidents took place in Muslim-dominated areas of South Bombay and a majority of victims were Hindus.

* ix) On the night of 5th January 1993 a Mathadi worker... was set upon by miscreants who stabbed him to death. Three more Mathadi workers who came out of the godown to help him were also stabbed to death... Huge meetings were held which were addressed by leaders of Mathadi Unions. Speeches were made during this meeting to condemn the police and Government for their ineffectiveness with exhortations that Hindus might have to pick up swords to defend themselves...

* Section 1.8: i) On 6th January 1993 there were several cases of stabbing... in which the victims were innocent pedestrians who were stabbed after ascertaining their identity... In all, 18 cases of stabbing were reported by the evening of this day... These stabbing cases resulted in 1 Hindu, 1 Muslim and 2 others being killed... Mob violence accounted for the deaths of 7 Hindus and 1 Muslim... [Killed: 8 Hindus, 2 Muslims]

* Section 1.9: Curtains went up for the second phase of the riots in the city.

*Section 1.10: i) The violence and riots spread to several parts of the city... The stabbing incidents resulted in deaths of 16 Hindus and 4 Muslims... 11 cases of mob violence occurred... killing 2 Hindus... 7 cases of arson were reported... [in which] 2 Hindus were killed... Violent mobs of Hindus and Muslims kept attacking each other... [Killed: 20 Hindus, 4 Muslims]

* Section 1.11: i) During the wee hours of 8th January 1993... [6 residents of] Radhabai Chawl in Jogeshwari jurisdiction were locked from outside and set on fire by miscreants...

* ii) The Hindu 'backlash' commenced. The communal riots spread... 66 stabbing cases were reported... [by which] 11 Hindus, 15 Muslims and 2 others were killed... 48 cases of mob violence occurred in which 6 Muslims were killed... 31 cases of arson were reported... A dargah and mosque in Pydhonie jurisdiction, a kabrastan and a madrassa in Jogeshwari jurisdiction and a temple in Byculla jurisdiction were attacked... [Killed: 17 Hindus, 21 Muslims]

* iii) That the rioters had become defiant and the authority of the police was considerably eroded, appeared clear when a crude bomb was hurled at the police commissioner's car... Curfew was imposed...

Do you see the difference in the figures of the stabbings, arson and mob violence before and on January 8? Do you see which community suffered more violence on January 8...? And I haven't yet gone into the killings from January 9 to 12! These are the bare figures, as per the Report:

* January 9: 57 cases of stabbing, killing 8 Hindus and 18 Muslims; 97 cases of mob violence, killing 1 Hindu and 6 Muslims; 73 cases of arson, killing 3 Hindus and 6 Muslims.

* January 10: 81 cases of stabbing, killing 10 Hindus and 39 Muslims; 25 cases of mob violence, killing 2 Hindus and 9 Muslims; 108 cases of arson, killing 1 Hindu and 5 Muslims.

* January 11: 86 cases of stabbing, killing 11 Hindus and 44 Muslims; 129 cases of mob violence, killing 4 Hindus and 19 Muslims; 93 cases of arson, killing 2 Hindus and 12 Muslims.

* January 12: 56 cases of stabbing, killing 3 Hindus and 27 Muslims; 71 cases of mob violence, killing 1 Hindu and 6 Muslims; 70 cases of arson, killing 2 Muslims. To top that, "The army column, detailed to rescue a group of besieged Muslims in Antop Hill jurisdiction is attacked by a violent Hindu mob."

Yes, they attacked even the army! This is what the undamming of repressed anger, a backlash, is all about. Such a backlash isn't caused by incitement from politicians -- it's triggered by inequities fostered by "secularists."

Now for the third part -- the Sena's lie to cover its crimes before January 8. To answer that, I have to go into the first phase of chaos: from December 6 to December 12, 1992.

On December 6, at 4:40 pm, a cycle rally of about 300 local Sainiks went on the road in Dharavi, passing through Muslim areas and terminating at a meeting addressed by local leaders. Obviously, they rejoiced at the liberation of the Ram Janmabhoomi. Which is pinned by the Report as "the irresponsible act of the Hindutva parties in celebrating and gloating over the demolition of Babri structure."

Point to ponder: How does ONE rally in Dharavi, in Mumbai North, cause stabbings in South Mumbai...?

Apart from that, a series of incidents occurred on the same day, like the decapitation of a Ganesh idol, stone/bottle throwing, attempted arson and firing in Muslim-dominated areas in Jogeshwari, Chembur, Minara Masjid, Bhendi Bazar, Mohammed Ali Road, etc. That is, all over Bombay.

So far, the only nit Justice Srikrishna could pick against Hindus was the cycle rally... About the next day, facts forced him to state: "From 7th December 1992 onwards there was a qualitative transformation in the situation. Large mobs of Muslims came on the streets and there was recourse taken to violence without doubt. This time the Muslim mobs appear to have come out with the intention of mounting violent attacks as noticed from their preparedness with weapons of offence. There were violent attacks on the policemen in Muslim dominated areas..."

But that's not what infuriates me; it is what follows: "The jurisdictional areas affected were mostly Muslim dominated or mixed localities in which the misguided and irresponsible Hindu youths aggravated the situation by engaging the rioting Muslims..."

Excuse meeee? Since when is it "misguided" and "irresponsible" to defend oneself against an armed mob with an intent to kill???

Here's an example of violence that he wanted us to ignore: "Two Constables in Deonar jurisdiction were killed with choppers and swords by the rampaging Muslims. While one lay on the ground bleeding to death, the body of another was dragged and thrown into the garbage heap from where it was recovered seven days later."

On December 8, the rioting spread alarmingly and attacks on places of worship continued: "Eleven temples in different jurisdictions were damaged, demolished or set on fire." (Police records show 42 temples and 4 mosques destroyed.) But by December 10, things calmed down and, two days later, the first phase was over.

Then, the Report picks up from January 2: some Muslim hutments in Tardeo were set on fire, and two Muslims in Dharavi were assaulted with iron rods by Hindus; on January 3, a Muslim in Dharavi was attacked with a knife; on January 4, Hindus led by Sainiks attacked Chacha Nagar Masjid and the Muslims in the vicinity.

Thing is, in Volume II, none of these event are mentioned in the details of the respective police stations. While the Report bundles the incidents between January 1 and 5 as "a series of stabbing incidents," it remains silent on the details where "a majority of victims were Hindus" -- which stabbings were going on before the Radhabai killings. Even the statements of then Commissioner of Police, S K Bapat, are conveniently brushed off with: "the memory and information of Shri Bapat is either selective or that he had been selectively fed with only such material..."

Then, on January 5, "There was a sudden spurt in attendance at Friday namaaz in mosques." The Hindus replied with Maha-artis "ostensibly to protest against the namaaz on streets and calling of azaans from mosques" -- which Justice Srikrishna assumes to be "no more than minor irritants."

Oh yeah? Ask the non-Parivar Hindus who live near mosques with loud-speakers, and office- goers who had to circumvent bodies blocking the pavements. How disgusted Hindus were can be gauged from the fact that even the elite, non-Hindutvawadi, non-Marathi people of Pedder Road - - who do not read Saamna -- attended Maha-artis at our nukkad. Section 1.13, paragraph ii says: "Even normally law-abiding citizens seemed gripped by the communal frenzy and were seen attacking members of the rival community..." That's what the Hindu backlash was like. But, only the views of the Red thugs were considered...

With January 6, we go back to 18 stabbings. The stabbings, says the Report, "appeared to be executed with professional accuracy intended to kill... Some of the Muslim criminal elements operating in South Bombay, like Salim Rampuri and Firoz Konkani, have been identified as the brains behind the stabbing incidents."

Hel-lo!! Konkani was arrested for the murder of BJP's Ramdas Nayak in 1995! Such, then, were the professionals on the scent of Hindu blood. Therefore, what "cover its own crimes from before that day"? Armed Sainiks patrolled areas and saved Hindus from being murdered. And, they didn't need to lie about Radhabai -- the fact that Hindus were on the receiving end is evident from the Report itself. No namaaz on the streets = no Maha-artis. No Muslim killers = no Sena protectors. There's no "mistake" for me to "correct." Geddit?

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