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1993 Mumbai Riots: 9 Muslims killed, will ‘Key’ evidence against Police play in court?

 

Mumbai: Two audio cassettes from 1993 Riots and also a recorded evidence on the chronology of events occurred on January 9 will be taken out from ‘valuable properties’ sections of Mumbai Police after 15 long years to determine the course of the trial against seven Mumbai policemen.

The 1993 communal riots saw slaughtering of nine Muslim men at the hands of alleged accused policemen at Suleman Bakery in South Mumbai.

The 1993 audio cassettes will be once again checked to find whether or not they are in working condition. These cassettes have recordings of wireless messages from 1993 received by the main police control room from 1993 riot areas and the chronology of evidences that occurred that day.

According to reports, back in 2003, one of the two sides of tapes A and B was heard in the court in the presence of all parties following which the cassettes were sealed and kept in a “strong room at 6 pm” on April 9 that year.

However, records are not clear if the filed chargesheet were verified and compared with the audio evidence.

Earlier in 2016, the defence advocate has submitted in the trial court that ten other accused policemen were also discharged from the case on various grounds in connection with the FIR registered in 2001.

The sessions court on Thursday made it clear that Pydhonie police where the FIR was registered against 17 police officials, will be responsible for the equipment to be brought that will help to listen to the cassettes in the court premises again.

If that compliance is not made, it is hereby directed that concerned official of sessions department shall compare contents of aforesaid audio cassettes with transcripts, if any relating to the same in presence of APP (prosecutor), defence counsel and concerned police person of Pydhonie police station, and submit report whether transcript is in line with contents of those audio cassettes…,” the court said.

“As per records, the cassettes were recorded over 25 years ago in 1993 and have been kept in an envelope for the past 15 years. It may have been kept safely but whether or not it is still in working condition will have to be determined since these audio cassettes are old and would require a cool, dust-free environment to be preserved,” said the sources linked to the case.

According to initial reports, the alleged incident took place on January 9, 1993 but the FIR was only filed in 2001 after the incident’s witnesses which include bakery workers, students and teachers of a nearby madrasa have filed affidavits before the Justice B N Srikrishna Commission that investigated the riots.

Seventeen (17 ) policemen, including the then joint commissioner of police (crime) R D Tyagi, were named in the FIR initially, but now only seven policemen identified as Kalyanrao Vidhate, Sahebrao Phad, Sudhir Bane, Mohan Bhise, Purshotam Naik, Chandrakant Mohite and Ramakant Motling are facing trial on various charges, including murder.

The trial court had discharged the other 10 police officials including Tyagi observing that there was no evidence against these officials, but the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court, both upheld trial court’s discharge orders.

Srikrishna Commission, back then observed that the log book entry of the control room “further obfuscates the picture” and that the conversation between Tyagi and the control room “does not indicate any sense of urgency”.

The wireless messages recorded pertaining to this incident is from 12.31 pm to about 1.49 pm that day. One of the messages from Pydhonie states: “Public is firing on the police from Suleman Bakery, Minara Masjid”, and that it injured four people but the Commission observed while the messages show four people were injured none of the statements were recorded.

The policemen in their defense claimed that they had only opened fire in response to the firing from within the bakery and had reportedly taken 78 people in custody among while nine had died.

The Commission called the policemens claims as “utterly trigger-happy”, and said that they were “very much influenced by the floating and exaggerated rumours of attacks from sophisticated firearms and consequent fear psychosis which caused them to shoot to kill”.

Only two months ago, the trial court had issued directions to summon the witnesses but one of the accused in the case filed a plea urging the court to put a hold on examination unless the documents relied upon by the prosecution are not supplied.

The court has directed a compliance report to be submitted on November 21.

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