First anniversary of madness in Mumbai
by S N Ganesh on 11 Aug 2013 5 Comments

Today marks the first anniversary of the Muslim protests against the riots in Assam and Myanmar, protests that turned very violent! The riots were between Bodos and illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam, and Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar. But the protests were in faraway Mumbai, where innocent policemen, journalists on duty, and bystanders were made the objects of irrational ire. Obviously, the soft target is the best target.


The protest was organized by Raza Academy, a cultural organisation, supported by the Sunni Jamait ul Ulema and Jamat e Raza-e-Mustafa, who took permission to hold a meeting of 1500 persons at Mumbai's Azad Maidan. About 50,000 attended.


During the protest, TV broadcasting vans were set on fire, media men roughed up, the Times of India office building damaged, women constables molested, two SLR’s and one service revolver snatched. It was probably the first time that one saw Mumbai policemen run for their lives.


The Amar Jawan Memorial in memory of those who died in the Samyukta Movement was kicked. A photo in Mid-Day that captures this incident is no longer on the paper’s website. But some evidence survives of the extent of violence and the damage caused to the city


Mumbai Police have to this day not explained why they gave permission to the Raza Academy to hold a protest march in the city, when former Police Commissioner MN Singh is on record that the Raza Academy does not have a good reputation and other Muslim organizations are unknown (Times Now


Moreover, in 1988, Raza Academy had organised protest against Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Then too, the crowd went out of control and 10 persons died. Ironically, the Raza Academy now claims that they did not organize the protest. Then who did?


The State Government first tried to play down the incident, but due to a huge public outcry, it was forced to replace the city Police Commissioner. Subsequently, two journalists filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court.


At a hearing on May 7, 2013, the State Government told the High Court said that it will take about eight months to complete an inquiry to assess the extent of damage of public property.  Note that over eight months after the incident took place, the State Government wanted another eight months to complete the probe!


Probably sensing the Government’s attitude to the probe, the High Court at the next hearing stated, The Bombay HC on Wednesday directed the State to file an affidavit stating when it would complete its inquiry into last year's Azad Maidan riot.”


A July 28 report in Mumbai Mirror states that the recovery of damages of Rs 2.7 cr in Azad Maidan protest case could take another year. This is because when officials from the Mumbai City Collector’s office sent out notices to the prime accused Ahmed Raza Shaikh and Sayyed Noori, the post was returned as the addresses provided by the Mumbai police could not be traced. A new address has been provided.


The manner in which the case is being handled gives the common man a sense that the State Government is not keen on pursuing the legal process to its logical conclusion.


Mumbaikars have got used to this attitude of the State Government. After all, nothing is known of the convictions in the 2003 twin blasts, trials in the 2006 train bombings are moving at snail’s pace; the 2011 multiple bombs in Opera House and Dadar are festering somewhere. Further, nearly five years after 26/11, contracts for the installation of 6,000 CCTVs in Mumbai are yet to be awarded.


Sadly, the two branches of the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party are also silent. With elections soon approaching, no one wants to lose votes.


At this pace, Mumbai will retain its reputation as India’s most bombed and beaten city.


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