A top police official branded Saturday's violence in Mumbai as
"pre-planned" and said there may have been an "holocaust" but for
the extreme restraint his force exercised.
Additional Police Commissioner Krishna Prasad told IANS that two
groups - one each from Kurla and Deonar - were particularly
aggressive among the thousands who took to the streets.
They were part of a procession which attracted an "unprecedented
turnout" to protest attacks on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar.
Prasad said that as the violence spread and though some policemen
were seriously injured, at least four in the groin, and some
policewomen were virtually molested by the mobs, police exercised
"Our men had become equally aggressive and wanted to retaliate,
but we stopped them. Despite the tense situation, we did not
become trigger-happy. Otherwise, there would have been a
holocaust," Prasad insisted.
"The organisers had said around 1,000-2,000 would turn up. Our own
estimates were upto 10,000. But the turnout was over 25,000" a
grim Prasad said.
Prasad blamed the organisers for not giving proper crowd estimates
to the police before the procession was organised.
"Even our intelligence network missed out on this point. Usually,
for such processions, appeals are made after the Friday afternoon
prayers. But this Friday the appeal was probably made in the night
and police did not get the tip-off well in advance," Prasad
He pointed out that some organizations had merely expressed
support but said they would not participate in the procession.
"The Raza Academy and others were in no position to check out on
these 'leaderless' groups who could have taken advantage of the
Insisting that the violence was pre-planned, he said that at least
one group had been noticed coming with sticks studded with iron
nail and iron rods, indicating their intention.
"When they started beating some of the mediapersons and policemen,
I went and called out to the Muslim maulvis and other leaders,
requesting them to come and stop their youth, but they were not
able to control them," Prasad said.
As the small mob became aggressive, there was a free for all
outside the main venue, Azad Maidan, on the main roads near the
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, with attacks on police and media as
well as public, private and police vehicles.
In the end, two people lay dead and another 100 were injured.
One of the two dead, Mohammed Umer (22) of Bandra, was shot dead.
He had a police record of three serious crimes. The second, Altaf
Sheikh (18) also of Bandra, was killed in a stampede, Prasad
Prasad justified the police firing, saying the rioters began
snatching police weapons and even dragged away one constable.
"Three weapons, including two automatic rifles, were missing,
while one constable was virtually kidnapped and dragged away by an
angry mob, beaten up and dumped far away. He was found in a bad
state and rushed to hospital later in the evening," said Prasad.
Prasad made it clear that stricter norms would be slapped on
organisers of all such rallies, processions or demonstrations,
especially in the congested and sensitive south Mumbai areas.