Home Minister RR Patil has said his department would not oppose a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the police firing that killed seven people in a Wadala mosque at the height of the 1993 communal riots.
Among the deceased was 24-year-old student Nisar Ibrahim. In Wadala on January 10, 1993, to visit a friend, he had taken refuge in the Hari Masjid.
His family, which owns a small bakery in Parel, does not even know of a possible CBI investigation. Father Mohammed and sisters Abeda, Aziza and Rashida only want "Ibrahim's killer" to face a criminal trial.
Patil's stand may signal the first real hope for the Ibrahims.
Despite the deaths, the state has taken no steps so far to try the policemen. The Srikrishna Committee, which looked at the 1992-93 riots, concluded in its 1998 report that the Hari Masjid firing was "unprovoked and brutal".
The state only subjected Nikhil Kapse, the sub-inspector who led the police team at Hari Masjid, to a departmental inquiry that absolved him in 2002. But the state charged 39 local residents with rioting, even when the Srikrishna Committee had found the police explanation for the firing "fabricated".
Shot — point-blank by the police, the student told his family — in the back, Ibrahim was in KEM hospital for six months. He died on July 24, 1993.
The Ibrahims, who also saw a mob burn the contents of their bakery as the police watched, recall: "The doctors would not treat Nisar properly, operate, or remove his bullet… The Wadala police even claimed they never admitted him, and tried to make us change our statement… We had to wear bindis to the hospital to hide we were Muslims."
Lawyer Nilofer Bhagwat, who helped Rashida and over 20 witnesses depose before the Srikrishna Commission, said on Saturday a CBI probe was necessary: "The firing showed police culpability. It must be properly probed."