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Protests turn violent in Mumbai

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Two Circles reported on August 9:

A group of Muslim NGOs are castigating the Congress-led UPA government in the centre for its inactiveness in regard to Assam’s ethnic violence and Muslim genocide in Myanmar. They strongly condemned violence in any part of the world, appealed for peace and urged the Indian Govt. to act urgently to control the month-long ethnic violence in Assam in a press conference today at Mumbai’s Marathi Patrakar Sangh.

Maulana Mahmood Daryabadi, general secretary All India Ulama Council, Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, director Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre, Dr Azimuddin, president Movement for Human Welfare, Mr. Farid Shaikh, president Mumbai Aman Committee, Maulana Ejaz Khashmiri, Maulana Anis Ashrafi and Mr. Dawood Khan addressed the press meet and criticized the United Nations Organization and Amnesty International for their failure in controlling the genocide in Myanmar.

The leading Muslim NGOs of Mumbai have called for a mass agitation against Assam ethnic cleansing and Myanmar holocaust in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan on Monday –13th August from 1 pm onwards. They urged all other humanitarian NGOs and public to take the call positively and registered their protest against ‘the crimes against humanity’ being committed in Assam and Myanmar. By all means ‘we stand by the oppressed people’, they said.

Right now, around 3:30 PM on August 11, news comes from many sources including Z News that the protest turned violent:

The protest by several Muslim organisations at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan against the recent riots in Assam and alleged attacks on Muslims in Myanmar turned violent on Saturday.

Reports said the protesters set on fire several vehicles, including an OB (Outside Broadcast) van of a Hindi news channel.

Police had to resort to lathi-charge to disperse the violent crowd.

The protests, led by Raza Academy, an organisation working to promote Islamic culture, were supported by other organisations like Sunni Jamaitul Ulma and Jamate Raza-e-Mustafa.

Sporting black badges, hundreds of members and activists of these organisations, converged at the Azad Maidan and expressed concern over the massacre of the Muslim community.

Earlier, Maulana Syed Moinuddin Ashraf, president of Jamia Qadriya Ashrafiya, urged the Central and state governments to intervene.

“It is the responsibility of the Congress government to protect the Muslims, and for that matter each and every citizen,” said the Maulana, who is also known as Moin Miyan.

“With regards to the massacre in Myanmar, we understand it is an external problem and that certainly should be taken care of, but what is happening in Assam reflects on the state of affairs of the country,” he added.

At 4:30 PM the police says the situation is under control. The state Home Minister, Mr. R. R. Patil, is reported to be on the way back to Mumbai from Sangli. The violence actually harms the cause of the protest, so it is not clear why and how the it started.

IBN Live confirms:

4.26 pm: Police say situation is now under control. RAF has been deployed at the site, Mumbai Police Commissioner and other senior officers are also at the site.

There have no reports of injuries so far.

An earlier report from Newsbullet stated:

An OB (Outside Broadcasting) van of ABP News and some other TV channels were set ablaze as protest against Myanmar, Assam violence turned violent in Azad Maidan today in Mumbai.

Police had to use tear gas shells to disperse crowd. Angry protesters damaged camera equipments and also attacked media persons.

Police resorted to air firing to control the chaotic situation.

According to reports, some miscreants from the protesting crowd instigated the violence. Also, many police vehicles and BEST buses were torched.

At least 50,000 protestors were present at Azad Maidan.

That could have turned into a disaster. The police seemed to have controlled the situation pretty well by 5:15 PM. However, trains to the nearby suburban terminus of CST are reportedly disrupted, with large parts of the suburban central line temporarily halted. With public transport from the CST-Azad Maidan area non-functional, the outflow of pedestrians from the disturbed area is apparently disrupting traffic, perhaps temporarily.

HT has just managed to get a story online:

Police are still verifying what agitated the crowds. The State Reserve Police and riot control police were pressed into action to bring the situation under control.

The investigation will be interesting to follow, just because the violence seems so meaningless.

By 5:20 PM the train services have reportedly resumed, and protesters as well as the usual crowd of commuters from south Mumbai are leaving the area.

12 August, 2012

Counts of the injured and dead are now arriving, although the numbers are fluid as they always are in India. The count of the injured has ranged from 44 to 61. DNA reports:

Two people were killed and 61 injured on Saturday as the protest in Azad Maidan, against the violence in Assam and alleged attacks against Muslims in Myanmar turned violent. Of the 61 injured, 44 are policemen and three are mediapersons.

Mohammad Umar (22) and Altaf Shaikh (18) were brought dead at state-run St George Hospital. It is being suspected that they were killed in the police firing, but the doctors maintained that the cause of death could be ascertained after the post-mortem reports.

Of the five civilians admitted in JJ Hospital, three sustained bullet injuries.

Seven policemen of the 22 policemen admitted in St George’s Hospital were admitted with grievous head injuries. Two civilians and 23 policemen were rushed to GT Hospital.

Riot control police personnel Hanumant Darekar was admitted in Bombay Hospital and he is critical.

“Darekar was beaten up badly by the mob. Someone even snatched his revolver,” said a police constable.

Also, photographers from Marathi daily Sakal and national English daily The Hindu were assaulted by the mob while they were trying to capture photographs. “The mob was angry that the media wasn’t providing enough coverage to their issue. They charged upon us and assaulted us. They even snatched my gold chain,” said Prashant Sawant, photographer from Sakal.

The theft of a gold chain and a police revolver seem to be the work of professional criminals mingling with the crowd. More believable counts of the crowd’s strength are given in IE:

A 15,000-strong crowd is estimated to have assembled at the Azad Maidan for the protest organised by the Raza Academy and joined by two other organisations.

A very interesting part of the same report is the following:

While tension had started brewing 1 pm onwards with some shops reportedly vandalised at the protest site, Patnaik said it was around 3 pm that the crowd turned violent, after some protesters showed “provocative photos” of the Assam violence. “Some people started raising slogans against the police and media. They set fire to police vehicles,” said Patnaik. “As we tried restraining the crowd, a scuffle broke out between the protesters and police.”

This seems to indicate that some people had come prepared to instigate an incident, and were partially successful.

13 August, 2012

IE reports:

Twenty-three persons arrested for Saturday’s riots were remanded in police custody till August 19 after they were produced at the Esplanade Court on Sunday afternoon.

Seeking their police custody, the Crime Branch argued that it was necessary to interrogate the accused to ascertain if the attack was pre-planned as well as to identify others involved.

According to the police, two self-loading rifles (SLRs) and 160 rounds of 7.65 mm were stolen during the riot along with a service revolver and 10 nine mm rounds. While the police found the two SLRs abandoned near Azad Maidan, the revolver is still missing.

“As many as 19 7.65 mm SLR rounds were later found during a search in Mumbra, which indicates that people from the area were involved in the riot,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy.

Asian Age reports:

The rioters had also sto-len two rifles, a pistol and 160 bullets from the policemen. “We have recovered two SLRs, one of which was in a broken-down condition, from the area where the violence took place, while the pistol is still missing,” said [JCP (crime) Himanshu Roy].

Another senior crime branch officer confirmed that the initial investigation indicates that it could be a well-planned riot. “The GRP has captured CCTV footage of mobs boarding from Kurla and alighting at CST. We also have CCTV footage of the mob carrying petrol cans and also spilling them on vehicles and setting them on fire,” said the officer.

Domain B expands on this:

Closed circuit TV footage suggests a conspiracy to trigger violence during the protest over the killing of Muslims in Assam and Myanmar. Police say CCTV footage shows a mob boarding a train from the Kurla station and alighting at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) armed with sticks, rods and chains. They believe this mob infiltrated the crowds at the protest, and a distinction is being made between the crowd that was already there and those that came later.

The violent elements set fire to media and police vehicles and damaged as many as 49 BEST buses. They also desecrated the Amar Jawan memorial dedicated to the ‘unknown soldier’ at the CST station.

The footage also shows the mob molested women, including women cops. Three police weapons – two rifles and a pistol – were stolen at the time of the clashes.

The police have decided to charge the arrested persons with murder. They suspect that one of the two youngsters killed, Aftab Aktar Khan, 17, a resident of Kasaiwada in Kurla (East), was shot with bullets that don’t belong to a police weapon. Officials are waiting for the ballistic report for a final confirmation.

The mob stole two self-loading rifles and a pistol from the police along with 160 rounds of ammunition. While the two SLRs were found in damaged condition, the pistol is yet to be recovered.

The crime branch, which is investigating the incident, has recovered a country-made firearm (katta) from the spot.

Mumbai Mirror had an illuminating little note on methods:

The Crime Branch,which is probing the case,has seized 63 bikes from the trouble spot outside the venue and next to the BMC head office as its first line of action. The cops are arresting those who are coming to collect the two-wheelers. So far, 23 people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the case.

Police said many bikers had taken the JJ flyover route to reach the venue and had planned to escape through the same way after the damage was done. However,as police resistance grew, they were forced to leave the vehicles. The investigators are also tracing the owners with the help of the registration number plates.


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

August 11, 2012 at 11:02 am

4 Responses

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  1. […] the fault lines in Indian society, and is trying to leverage these cracks to create a problem. It failed narrowly in Mumbai. It has not succeeded in Pune and Mysore. Has it begun to succeed in […]

  2. […] to the claims being made by extremist elements like the MNS, the police handled the attempt to provoke riots in Mumbai extremely well. The violence was contained in less than an hour, and no counter-provocation was […]

  3. […] demanded action against Home Minister R R Patil and Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik for not taking action against violence at Azad Maidan, orders have been issued for the transfer of the top cop – effectively turning him into a […]

  4. […] Mumbai the unsuccessful attempt to instigate a riot on August 11 led to a show of strength by the MNS. Rajdeep Sardsai blogged: Which is why the recent violence in […]

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