Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Safar\Rabi-Ul-Awwal 1424 H
May 2003
Volume 16-05 No : 197
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Investigation


Tyagi Goes Scot-Free


Tyagi Goes Scot-Free

Tyagi with eight other policemen, accused in the 1993 Suleman Bakery firing case go scot-free.

By A Staff Writer

R D Tyagi

Mumbai: R.D. Tyagi, former city police commissioner and prime accused in the 1993, Suleman Bakery firing case, was discharged from the case along with eight other policemen by a sessions judge on the grounds

that they were discharging their official duty and that there was no evidence to frame charges against them.

The discharge means that Tyagi and the others will not be tried and are no longer accused in the case. The police had filed an FIR against Tyagi and 17 other policemen in 2001, accusing them of murder and attempt to murder.

Tyagi was facing trial, in connection with the murder of nine innocent Muslims in a firing at Suleman bakery on Mohammed Ali Road during the January 1993 post -Babri Masjid demolition riots. He masterminded the Suleiman Bakery operation, which resulted in the death of nine people in 1993.By the time the policemen, led by Tyagi, left the mosque and the abutting Suleman bakery, where they had entered to “flush out” suspected rioters, nine people lay dead. All the nine were “shot point-blank and in cold blood”, said Justice B.N. Srikrishna, in his report on the Bombay riots of December 1992 and January 1993, laying the blame squarely on Tyagi, who had overseen the “operation” in one of the biggest minority pockets in the financial capital.

“I can never forget that Sunday, when police entered my shop and my staff were killed,” said Abdus Sattar, owner of Suleman Usman Bakery, referring to former police commissioner R.D. Tyagi’s raid during the 1993 communal riots.

Five people from his bakery on Mohammed Ali Road were shot dead during the raid. “Of the 79 people arrested, 40 were from my bakery,” said Sattar. But even after he bailed out all his workers, none of them wanted to return. “Nothing would bring them back to the bakery. The fear of death was so strong.” According to Sattar, at around 10.30 am on January 9, 1993, police broke down the wooden door leading to the bakery workshop on the first floor. An iron door has replaced the wooden one now. “Curfew was on and the shop shut. The staff was on the first floor when the police arrived in two vans. They even took some of the equipment used to make bakery products, claiming they were weapons,” said Sattar, who was at his residence when the raid occurred. Five workers at the bakery were shot dead in the raid. Police then raided the adjoining mosque, where another four people were shot.

Abdullah Qasim, a student at the Madarsa Dar-Ul-Uloom Imdadiya, whose father was shot dead when the police entered the madrasa adjacent to the bakery, still hears the thud of police boots, the crash of broken panes, the torrents of abuse, the crack of automatic fire and the searing screams of victims. For the last ten years, Abdullah, now 23 and studying Arabic at the same madrassa, has been fighting the sound and the images stuck in his mind. But the memories of death, especially of his crippled father, are hard to shake.

The embers of anger still shoulder beneath the business-as-usual surface. Abdullah said, his eyes flashing in anger, “When the policemen who are supposed to protect you kill your father, the officers responsible should be hanged if the state cannot kill them the way they killed my father”. “The policemen under Tyagi broke through the door to the bakery, only to “shower” people inside with fire.They entered on the pretext that the bakery was harboring rioters and anti-national elements, but failed to seize a single weapon inside or outside the bakery,” he said.

The Special Task Force (STF) prosecuting agency appointed by the State government, also has on videotape the Suleman Usman Bakery and its surroundings to show how impossible it is to accommodate 90 people inside the bakery at a time, as former police commissioner R D Tyagi claims. STF sources remarked that the bakery is so congested as to make it impossible to move if 80-90 people are inside. “This proves that the claim of the accused that there were 88 persons inside the bakery and that some of them were actually firing at police using sophisticated weapons, is completely false,” said STF sources.

Neither the police, nor the state, nor even the opposition are interested in taking action against those indicted by the Justice B.N. Sri Krishna Commission. So a weak representation by the prosecution shows that those indicted by the Commission go scot- free and justice denied to those who suffered. By letting wrong-doers get away with their crimes, governments store up trouble for the future and allow public resentment to grow. A particularly harsh view should be taken of law-enforcers who break the law.

Mumbai Aman Committee, All-India Milli Council and Lawyers Legal Aid Committee, the litigants in the case filed before the Supreme Court, have alleged that the Democratic Front (DF) government is not serious about implementing the Srikrishna Commission on the communal riots that shook Mumbai in December 1992 and January 1993.

“Maharashtra state has declared time and again that it has fulfilled its election promise of implementing the Srikrishna Commission report, but those who have been closely involved with the supreme court litigation feel that the government is misguiding the public,” said representatives of the three organisations while speaking to Islamic Voice.

The organisations charged that the manner in which the special task force (STF) is acting, reflects the government’s intention of not respecting the findings of the Commission. “The STF sits in judgement over the Commission’s report and has taken pains to nullify the findings of the report “.

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