Three survivors of police firing on Saturday’s riot were not even part of the Raza Academy meeting held in the Azad Maidan grounds. All three victims said they had come to the area for their own work and were caught in the middle.
The youngest victim, Junaid Shaikh (22), who repairs mobile phones at Manish Market and had gone there on Saturday afternoon for some work at his uncle’s shop. Accompanying him was a friend, Ashiq Ali.
Shaikh said, “We were there for about 5 to 10 minutes before we left. We climbed on to the JJ Flyover ramp when we saw the traffic jam on the southbound lane. Our lane was clear. We halted the bike on the side of the road on top of the flyover to see what had happened.”
Looking behind, Shaikh and Ali noticed a massive mob of people destroying buses and cars outside the CST exit. The mob was being pursued by hundreds of policemen.
Shaikh added, “I heard loud popping noises, like firecrackers. I didn’t realise police were shooting at the mob. In the melee, I recognised two kids from our area running towards our bike, along with the mob.
They asked me to save them. I had one kid sit on the motorcycle tank and placed the other between Ali and myself. I then started the bike and sped off.”
Shaikh had ridden the bike only a few meters ahead when he realized he’d hurt his right leg. “It didn’t occur to me that I was shot. We’d gone about half a kilometre ahead and I tried to slow down by braking and my foot slipped off the foot peg when I tried to brake.
I then realized I was seriously hurt. I lowered the bike’s side stand while in motion and squeezed the front brake to stop. Ali and I swapped places and he rushed all of us to JJ hospital.”
According to his doctors, the bullet entered his ankle and missed his bone by just half an inch before exiting. “I feel extremely lucky. If the bullet had hit my left leg, I wouldn’t have been able to drive the bike away,” he added.
Saviour gets shot
Akbar Mohammed Ali Khan (27) works as a maintenance manager for a travel agency. His grandmother was admitted in Nair Hospital for amputation of her arm owing to diabetes complications.
On Saturday, Khan had gone to purchase new clothes for his grandmother at Fashion Street, when he found himself caught in the riot.
“I’d left my car at the hospital so my relatives could use it and came to Fashion Street by taxi at about 3.00 pm. I was outside the CST bus depot when I saw the rioters.
In the crowd I noticed a boy writhing in pain at the depot and went to help him. I don’t know where the bullet came from but it hit me in my left upper thigh. By this time, the boy had died.” The boy Khan tried to rescue was later identified as Altaf Shaikh. Both the men were brought to St George Hospital, where Altaf was declared dead.
Khan was shifted to JJ Hospital. “The bullet broke into two as it hit me and exited from the front,” he added. Though Khan was aware of the Azad Maidan gathering owing to the SMSes circulating in the days leading up to the riot, he insisted he had nothing to do with the meeting.
Out of the blue
Nazar Mohammed Siddique (36), a truck driver based in Kurla had gone to Masjid Bundar for bank work. Like Junaid, he was on his way back via the JJ flyover along with a friend when a bullet hit him in his buttocks.
“I was riding my bike and had no idea where the bullet came from. I put my hand on the wound and realised I was bleeding and I’d been shot. I stopped about half a kilometre ahead. My friend, who was also riding his bike then took me to JJ Hospital.” Siddique claims the bullet destroyed his motorcycle’s seat.
The three men have now filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court through their advocate Ejaz Naqvi, demanding action against police and state authorities.