Almost two months after the Bombay High court ordered it to probe a 1993 Mumbai riot crime, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday called Farooq Mapkar, the security guard who has been waging a lone battle for an unbiased probe into a fatal police firing in January 1993.
The contentious firing at the height of the communal riots in a central Mumbai mosque by a team of Mumbai policemen, killed seven men, and injured others including Mapkar. It marks the first crime from the communal riots--the two months of violence left an estimated 900 people dead--to be probed by the CBI.
However, the CBI’s Special Task Force in Mumbai—the team was entrusted the probe of crimes like the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai and is currently in charge of investigations like the 2006 bomb blasts in Malegaon—is yet to register a formal crime.
Head of the STF Sumeet Pandey said, “We only got the case papers two days ago from the Mumbai police. We have verified Mapkar’s complaint with him today, and will register the FIR within 15 days.”
Mapkar’s complaint—handed to the Mumbai police in August 2006, but never acted upon—accuses serving Police Inspector Nikhil Kapse of unprovoked and point-blank firing at devotees at Wadala’s Hari Masjid.
In December 2008, hearing a petition by Mapkar, the Bombay High Court had asked the CBI to take up the case urgently, and file a chargesheet against the accused within six months of registering a crime, observing that the probe constituted a larger public interest because, “This is a case, which involves the reputation of the Bombay Police and its officers in so far as the allegations are made against their conduct. The case also involves allegations against members of a political party and has under flowing communal currents.”
On Tuesday Pandey said, “The case is being given the topmost priority. All the papers are in Marathi, and we have to translate them. All this takes time.”
Kapse’s lawyer Shakil Ahmed maintained, “A strong chargesheet can be prepared if the CBI investigators work in an unbiased manner and inspire faith in the eyewitnesses to the firing. They should also look at the fabricated case against the men in the mosque which was drawn by the police after the firing to cover up their unprovoked act.”