Dhulia Firing: Fact Finding Report
By All India Secular Forum
07 June, 2010
Fact Finding on May 6th 2010 Police Firing And Reaction at Dhulia, Maharashtra
Fact finding team (All India Secular Forum)
Dr Suresh Khairnar( Nagpur),
Mayatai Choure (Kamptee),
Ranjit Pardeshi (Dhulia),
Adv. Karim Salar (Jalgaon),
Rahul Wagh (Dhulia),
The Team visited Dhulia city on 12th May, 2010 for fact finding the incident of police Firing and the following community reaction on 6th May and its aftermath.
About Dhulia: Dhulia city, 300 Kms north-east of Mumbai, has about 5 lakh population out of which 40% are Muslims, mostly engaged in power loom industry, known as Ansaris. The rest of the population is engaged in agriculture and allied industries. Sugarcane, Banana, groundnut, Cotton and of late grapes are the major crops of the region. Quite a few ginning as well as sugar mills are located in the region.
Though Dhulia and Malegaon are twins for many reasons, unlike the latter which is situated at a distance of a mere 50km, Dhulia is historically a peaceful city from the communal point of view. However, people started feeling communal tension since the Ram Janmabhoomi movement launched by the Sangh Parivar in the early 90s. A number of smaller skirmishes were reported in the years followed from Nandurbar, Sakri, Navapur, Pimpalner… which are on the borders of Gujarat and Madya Pradesh.
Prior to the recent incident, the last big Hindu-Muslim riot in the city of Dhulia took place in October 2008 over the controversial Afzal Khan-Shivaji poster, in which about 10 people lost their lives. A separate enquiry report on this riot was released by AISF then.
The Enquiry: The fact finding team visited the city of Dhulia to investigate the recent incident that took place on 6th of May.
Incident: On the day of unrest, May 06, 2010, when the administration was busy conducting MHT-CET exam, someone pasted a computer generated cartoon of Prophet Mohammed on the district Collectorate notice board. Creating images of Prophet Mohammed is considered to be a blasphemy by Muslims. One Bilal Ahmed who happened to visit the Collectorate, on seeing the poster, rang up to Mr. Sawaal Ansari, NCP Corporator and informed him of the mischief. Sawaal Ansari, in turn informed one Mr. Harshawardhan Kadam Bande, Ex MLA and NCP leader. A delegation led by these two leaders called upon the District Collector who in the presence of the Superintendent of Police, assured the delegation that that the culprit(s) would be arrested within one hour. However, hours passed without the police arresting any.
Meanwhile, a crowd of Muslims numbering few thousands had gathered at Assi Footi Road, Tiranga Chowk. The crowd demonstrated against the blasphemy and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits. It is reported that the crowd had turned violent and pelted stones on ST Buses. According to the media 14 buses were damaged which the Muslim representatives refuted saying only two buses were damaged. Police force was deployed on the scene. The SP Mr. Himmatrao Deshbhratar appealed to the crowd to disperse peacefully, assuring them that the culprits would be arrested soon. He even requested Mufti Mazood Ahmed (35 years old) to appeal the crowd. Standing on top of the Police Vehicle, Mufti appealed to the Crowd to disperse.
When the Fact Finding Team asked about the happening the Muslims told that, heeding the appeal of the Police officer and the Mufti, the crowd dispersed peacefully, and as it was time for Namaz they went to Namaz Subhani Masjid. However, they further said, when the Namazies came out of the Masjid after offering Namaz they found themselves surrounded by RAF Commandos and local police who started firing indiscriminately on the crowd without warning, and unleashed frightening attack on people and property. As a result three persons were grievously shot. The names of the injured persons are:
Shiraj Ahmad, age 35, works at Seva Automobile, hit on the back and paralyzed, being treated at a private hospital
Adil Ahmad, age 17 years, 12th pass student returning from CET exam, hit on the hip from the back, being treated at a private hospital.
Shoeb Ahmad Hussain, age 25 years, hit on the back, now in police custody.
Mufti Mazood Ahmed who was requested by the Police to appeal to the masses to maintain peace, was also brutally attacked by the Commandos, his two fingers are fractured and is now in bandage.
The eye witnesses told, immediately after this firing without warning, the police launched an offensive in the Muslim bustie, forcefully entering into houses, hurled abuses on the women of the houses, beating whoever was found including women and children, breaking furniture and throwing about utensils in the kitchen and arresting about 40 Muslims from their homes.
The fact finding team visited Taj Transport Garage which according to the eyewitnesses was ransacked by 15-20 Commandos who beat up the owner Mohd Alim and picked up 6 employees of the garage. Similarly the Commandos broke open another shop, Maharashtra Battery Works which was closed then, and raged the shop to the ground. The batteries were also smashed beyond repair. Another Engineering worshop run by Haji Mohammed Shafi Ramzan Shah, was also raided and his servant Shafique was brutally attacked and taken to custody.
S.P Mr. Himmatrao Deshbhratar, when contacted, stated that he was planning to arrest 5000 Muslims. When asked how can he maintain law and order with the arrest of so many people, he replied that the Guardian Minister Mr. Abdul Sattar had told him that these people (referring to Muslims) understand only the language of sticks.
Habib Kha a senior citizen told that, his grand son Naseem Kha S/O Yusuf Kha was beaten up by police when he went to Pan Shop at assi footi road, and arrested. There are over 25 younsters (all below the age of 25) still in custody. Yusuf Kha managed to get his son released in two days, however Naseem Kha was taken to custody once again.
Incidentally the sitting independent MLA of Dhulia Mr Anil Gote had called for Dhulia Bandh on the 5th May, a day before the incident, in protest against the physical attack waged by the hands of his political rival Mr. Harshwardhan Kadambande. Mr. Anil was away from the constituency on the day of the incident. Mr. Kadambande states that ‘local political rivalry is the root cause of the trouble in Dhulia. (Anil Gote is the second accused in the Telgi Stamp Paper Scam)
Muslims claimed that police seemed to come with the plan of damaging our properties. Over 20 cars and more than hundred houses were damaged. Police on the other hand says that the Muslims themselves damaged the property and put the blame on the Police.
The arrested people have not been released till today.
The Hindus say that it is a clash between police and Muslims. There is no communal bad blood in it.
Over 25 Muslim youth (below the age of 25) are still in police custody charged with criminal allegations.
The property, particularly vehicles were vandalized. The Fact Finding Team could see over 15 vehiles some of them costly ones, still remain in damaged condition in Muslim Mohella.
Three Muslims are grievously injured in Police Firing.
The Superintendent Claims that ‘Muslims understand only the language of the Canes, and the attack on them had contained the unruly masses and averted a possible communal riot.’
The indiscriminate attack on Muslim Masses suggest that the police came with a pre-determined mind to ‘teach a lesson’ to Muslims.
Communal Prejudice among the police is a very strong.
Many Muslims abstained from responding to the query by the Team as they think it might bring them to Police’ vindictive attention, as they themselves opined.
Even those responded, requested to keep their name undisclosed.
Police has created a fear psychosis among the people for no obvious fault of them.
All India Secular Forum