Women police personnel reveal how they were targeted

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch on Friday filed a 3384-page charge sheet in the Azad Maidan riots case here, retaining the murder charges against all the 57 accused. Of the 57, four have been accused under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code for molesting women police personnel during the riots.

A Myanmarese immigrant named Yusuf Hussain Khan (26) and an externed criminal, Salim Lightwala, were named as the main conspirators. Police said more than 4,000 people participated in the violence. Fifty eight people were arrested in the aftermath of the riots; one of them was sent to a juvenile home. The police initially arrested 63 persons, of whom five were discharged due to lack of evidence.

The police said they still did not know how the two victims, who died of bullet injuries sustained during the riots, were killed. “We are investigating if they died due to firing from police weapons, or those police weapons which were stolen by rioters, or illegal arms that were carried by the rioters,” the charge sheet stated.

None of the 17 speakers present on the dais during the protest rally was chargesheeted. Sources said the police were initially investigating if any of the five maulvis who spoke during the rally made any provocative speech. But they could not connect the violence with the speeches. “The violence had erupted separately. None of those arrested for the riots heard any speeches,” a police official said on the condition of anonymity.

Mobs turned unruly on August 11 during a rally to protest violence against Muslims in Myanmar. The rioters injured the police and media persons, burnt public property, and media vans. The total damage was estimated to be Rs. 2.74 crore, of which more than 80 per cent damage was done to private property, including media vans. The cost will be recovered from the rally’s organiser, Madina-tul-ilm.

Of the 92 injured, 76 were police personnel, two fire brigade personnel, four journalists and 10 citizens.

Many women police personnel who were on duty were molested.

The charge sheet is divided into seven books. “We have relied on the statements of 851 witnesses. Of them, 736 are government employees, 86 are citizens and 29 are reporters. 47 panchnamas were conducted. We have taken CCTV footage from three sources — Times of India, Municipal Corporation and Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus. We have also gathered footage from other railway stations along the central and harbour lines. We have taken videographic evidence gathered by private individuals and journalists,” said Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy. He said the police also took around 47 video clips from YouTube.

“We have relied on 220 photographs,” he said, adding that more than 100 unknown persons were mentioned as wanted in the case. The accused themselves had digitally recorded the violence they allegedly perpetrated. The police used that evidence as well.

The charge sheet includes the statements of a few women police constables who were molested by the rioters. The statements reveal how the rioters targeted helpless women constables.