08/02/2007, 00.00
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Mumbai: new probe into the deadly riots of 1993

by Nirmala Carvalho
A new inquiry is set to find who was responsible for the death of some 900 people in December 1992 and January 1993 during riots between Muslims and Hindus. Human rights activist demands that those who have not be held accountable be brought to justice.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – With the trial of the March 12, 1993, bombings in Mumbai that killed more than 250 people at an end, one other matter of crucial significance is taking centre stage: the sectarian riots between Muslims and Hindus that preceded the blasts which the Srikrishna Commission had investigated.

The 1993 blasts traumatised this multiethnic city, with sectarian cracks appearing in what had until then been a peaceful community. Although the attacks have not been fully elucidated, the bombs were seen by many as a Muslim response to previous Hindu attacks.

Justice Srikrishna, then judge at the Bombay High Court, was appointed to probe the riots.

The brief given to the Commission he headed with regard to the bomb blasts was specific: examine the circumstances and immediate cause of the bomb blasts and find out whether any common link existed between the riots and the blasts and whether the two were part of a common design.

After five years of investigation the Commission found that the “serial bomb blasts were a reaction to the [. . .] events at Ayodhya and Bombay in December 1992 and January 1993.”

The Supreme Court indicated yesterday that it may order a new investigation just as it did for the 2002 Gujarat carnage in order to find out why and who was responsible for the 1992 violence in Mumbai.

The court said however that it would only give a general direction on the matter in view of the alleged lapses on the part of the Maharashtra government in taking action against the perpetrators of the violence.

The Court stated that it could not pass any order on the basis of the findings made by the Srikrishna Commission of inquiry, but did say never the less that the petitioner, the ‘Action Committee for Implementation of Srikrishna Commission’, and other co-petitioners could file a comprehensive affidavit detailing the specific instances of lapses reportedly committed by the government.

This affidavit should detail the number of cases registered, specific cases not registered despite complaints and first information reports, discharge of accused persons, failure in conducting the prosecution and any other glaring lapses that allegedly allowed the accused to go free.

Despite three successive reports by the government in 1998, 2004 and 2007, the real instigators and perpetrators have gone free because of their political influence, this according to the petitioners.

The sectarian violence in 1993 left 900 people dead. In the course of its probe the Srikrishna Commission found that several political leaders and police officers provided active support or at least tacit approval to those who fomented the communal incidents that led to the carnage.

The Commission concluded among other things that there was a “common link between the riots and the blasts,” one of “cause and effect,” but that there was no evidence “to indicate that the riots and the blasts were part of a common design.”

John Dayal, human rights activist and chairman of the All India Catholic Union, has called on the authorities to punish the culprits “who are still freely walking the streets of Mumbai.”

“Muslims and Hindus guilty in the Mumbai bombings were tried and sentenced,” he said, “whilst the killers of hundreds of Muslims and others in riots roam free. It is now time for justice.”

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