Mumbai’s festering wound
By the end of next week, the judge hearing the 1993 bomb blasts case will, in all likelihood, deliver his last sentence. But as one ghastly chapter in the city’s recent past comes to a close, the repercussions of another carnage continue to fester.
Time and again, as they have taken the stand, many of the 123 accused in the bomb blasts case asked the court why the state had failed to implement the Srikrishna Commission report on the riots that preceded the bombings. In the two rounds of rioting that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, 900 people died — 575 Muslims and 275 Hindus.
This week, for example, when the death knell sounded for Zakir Hussein Shaikh, he lost control. “Muslims will always be hanged,” he shouted. “Our houses and shops were looted, but we will always be given the maximum punishment. What kind of justice is this?” In all, the court has handed death sentences to 11 people.
The Srikrishna Commission found that “the irresponsible act of the Hindutva parties in celebrating and gloating over the demolition of the Babri structure was like twisting a knife in the wound and heightened the anguished ire of the Muslims.” It indicted key politicians and 31 policemen, including R. D. Tyagi, who was then joint commissioner of police, for killing nine men inside a south Mumbai bakery.
They are all free.
For most of the city’s inhabitants, either caught up in eking out a living or exulting in the soaring share market and booming economy, the riots have faded from consciousness.
But the anger within the trial courtroom is now spilling out, re-opening old wounds. Minority groups and sections of civil society want to know what the government will do about the Commission report — at least now.