Azad Maidan riots: State yet to bring culprits to book
A year has passed since the tragic Azad Maidan riots which killed two people, injured over 50 others and caused colossal losses to public property, the state government and the police seem to have done precious little to either compensate those injured or bring the guilty to justice.
On Saturday, Mumbai Police Crime Branch officials said they had filed a 3,384-page charge sheet against all the 57 accused. On August 11 last year a rally organised by the Mumbai-based Raza Academy to protest riots in Assam and the alleged failure of the Central government to protect the interests of religious minorities in Assam, ended up in a deadly riot, killing two and injuring at least 55 others.
The accused have since been booked for murder and four of them have been chargesheeted under Section 354 (molesting women police personnel during the riots) of the IPC. A Myanmarese immigrant named Yusuf Hussain Khan (26) and an externed criminal, Salim Lightwala, have been named as the main conspirators.
According to the police, 47 panchnamas were conducted, 851 witnesses statement recorded, among them 29 journalists. “We have filed chargesheets. The damage caused to public property is being recovered by the collector’s office,” Joint commissioner of police, Crime Branch, Himanshu Roy told SUNDAY MiD DAY.
Raza Academy’s version
Speaking to SMD Saeed Noori, founder-president of Raza Academy, said, “Last year during the rally we were invited to join in the protests. The rally was conducted by another NGO altogether. Asking us to pay for the property loss is not right. Those who caused the damage were not part of the NGO that organised the rally.”
One life lost
Constable Santosh Hande (36) who was grievously injured in the riots, died after a month. His wife was given a job in the state police force. Speaking to SMD, Rajaram Hande, brother of Santosh Hande confirmed that his sister-in-law had got a job on place of his brother. On the day of the riots, Hande was with DCP zone -1 Ravindra Shisve, at the Azad Maidan ground. Though he was discharged from the hospital after being treated, he complained of headaches and neck pain soon. A month later infection spread to his brains and died soon after.
MiD DAY photographer Atul Kamble recalls the day
It’s been a year now; legal procedures are still in process. I have still not received any compensation. The police perhaps forgot that not all the people there had come to protest. Some were doing their job and were caught in the riots. Hopefully such an incident will not occur again. I feel proud that the pictures that I clicked helped police officials nab the culprits who were responsible for destroying public property. I am thankful to my colleagues at MiD DAY and our editor Sachin Kalbag who stood by my side in the difficult times. I am also proud of the fact that my pictures have received more than a million likes on Facebook and were also discussed in the Parliament.