A CNN-IBN investigation has uncovered that the 1992-1993 Mumbai riots were a well-planned pogrom during which policemen and politicians became rioters. The investigation found that successive governments in Maharashtra have not been serious about punishing the guilty politicians and policemen.
Who ordered and organised the riots and is there a chance that the guilty will be now brought to justice? Stench of Truth, a special show, conducted by CNN-IBN’s Rajdeep Sardesai in Delhi and Ruksh Chatterji in Mumbai asked this to a panel comprising a former police official, a social activist, politicians and lawyers.
The Srikrishna Commission indicted 31 police officials for the riots but none of them was given a severe punishment. How did this happen?
Social activist Teesta Setalvad and former Mumbai Police chief M N Singh said the police force was communalised during the riots but their version of how this happened differed.
“There is no doubt that during the riots the police force was communalised to an extent. There was complete communal polarization in the society preceding the demolition of the Babri Masjid and thereafter. If certain sections of the police force were also affected by the communal virus then I don’t it should surprise anybody. But these very few people—just a few constables—who were able to get hold of wireless sets and sent indecent messages to their colleagues. This doesn’t mean the entire Mumbai Police was communalised,” said Singh.
Setalvad rejected Singh’s theory that there were just a few bad cops during the riots. “The action of the police, from the top to the bottom, was complicit if not explicit in not preventing the violence. A small section of the police was responsible for the filthy wireless messages but communal behaviour was evident in large section of the force,” said Setalvad.
Singh agreed that top police officials didn’t do enough to stop the riots and should be held responsible for the actions of their junior colleagues.