Myth of the Hindu Backlash: When Bombay Burned

Written by Teesta Setalvad | Published on: January 7, 2016
interpreted that the killing was done by a Muslim.
  • The Mahaartis launched by the Sena-BJP combine from December 26, 1992 added to the communal tension, endangering the fragile peace which had been established. Some of the Mahaartis were later used as occasions for delivering communally–inciting speeches; the crowds dispersing from the Mahaartis indulging in damage, looting and arson of Muslim establishments on the way. The Mahaartis continued unabated with no restriction on them being imposed by the police throughout January 1993 and came to an end only by the first week of February 1993.
  • There were also several stabbing incidents carried out by professional criminals in different areas of the city, with the intention of whipping up communal frenzy, in which the majority of the victims happened to be Hindus The stabbings appeared to be executed with professional accuracy intended to kill the victims. The killers had not been then identified in several cases, though it was presumed, at least in the cases where the Hindus were victims, that the killers were Muslims. The motive for the stabbings appears to have been to whip up communal frenzy between Hindus and Muslims. Some of the Muslim criminal elements operating in South Bombay, like Salim Rampuri and Firoz Konkani, have been identified as the brains behind the stabbing incidents. That they were criminals was underplayed by Hindus; that they were Muslims was all that mattered, and a cry went up that the Muslims were bent upon a second round of riots.
  • On January 1, 1993, an article appeared in the Shiv Sena organ edited by Bal Thackeray, Saamna, under the heading “Hindunni Akramak Vhayala Have” (Hindus must become aggressors), openly inciting Hindus to violence.
  • On January 2, 1993 a number of Muslim hutments in M.P. Mill compound within the Tardeo jurisdiction of south Mumbai were set on fire. On the same day, there was an incident in Dharavi where two Muslims were assaulted with iron rods.
  • On January 3, 1993 there was an attack on a Muslim in Dharavi jurisdiction with a knife. On the same day, several persons claiming to be officials of MHADA, and alleged to be Shiv Sainiks, went around Pratiksha Nagar in Antop Hill jurisdiction surveying the residences of Muslims there.
  • On January 4, 1993 a big mob of Hindus, led by Shri Gajanan Kirtikar, Shri Ramesh More and other Shiv Sena activists, took a morcha to the Jogeshwari Police Station complaining of lack of security for Hindus. Some of the people in the morcha attacked Chacha Nagar Masjid and the Muslims in the vicinity and injured them. Several Muslim huts in Magdum Nagar in Mahim jurisdiction were set on fire by Hindus.  
  • On the night of January 5, 1993 a Mathadi worker employed in the godown of Vijay Transport Company who was sleeping in the godown went to the street to relieve himself. Suddenly, he was set upon by miscreants who stabbed him to death. Three more Mathadi workers who came out of the godown to help him were also stabbed to death. The murders of the Mathadi workers created tremendous tension in the area. The Mathadi Workers’ Union called for a bandh. Huge meetings were held which were addressed by leaders of Mathadi Unions. Speeches were made during this meeting to condemn the police and Government for their ineffectiveness with exhortations that Hindus might have to pick up swords to defend themselves if the police failed to protect them. At the time when these murders of Mathadi workers took place, neither the police, nor the public, had a clue as to the identity of the killers, which came to be established much later. Nonetheless, the Hindus spearheaded by the Shiv Sena kicked up a furore that the murders had been committed by Muslims, virtually giving a call for arms. On January 5 –6, 1993 the Mathadi workers gave a call for bandh of wholesale markets, which also gave immense publicity to the murders of the Mathadis, allegedly by Muslims.
  • On January 6, 1993, the situation in Mahim went out of control at 9 p.m. Hindus attacked Muslims in Muslim pockets in Mahim area led by Shiv Sena Corporator, Milind Vaidya, and a police constable, Sanjay Gawade, openly carrying a sword. There were serious riots