Has the Mecca Masjid probe gone cold?


New Delhi, March 31: The Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee may have filed it report on the police firing that killed nine persons following the Mecca Masjid blasts in Hyderabad, but Vicky Nanjappa feels the matter appears to have gone in to cold storage.

The Mecca Masjid bombing at Hyderabad was a turning point in the social dynamics in Hyderabad many would claim. The case took many twists with the Harkat-ul-Jihadi being blamed at first, before the Central Bureau of Investigation was brought, in who finally concluded that it was an act committed by an extremist Hindu outfit.

The blame laid on the Muslim community at first was not too well-received, with a large section of them asking one question, “Why would our own people bomb a mosque?” However that sentiment has now calmed down among the community in Hyderabad, and they appear to be happy that the truth has finally come out.

However, the burning issue today is the police firing subsequent to the bomb blasts of May 18 2007. Immediately after the blasts, there was chaos around the mosque. The police claims that there was stone pelting protesting the blasts, and hence they had to open fire.

A commission of inquiry was set up and was headed by Justice Bhaskar Rao. The Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee which has been spearheading this cause to bring out the real picture says that the commission report which is of extreme importance appears to have gone into the cold storage.

Lateef Mohammad Khan, convener of this committee, said that it is clear that the police had acted out of spite and had fired indiscriminately at the mob which was just trying to help those injured in the blast.

“The government fears that if the report by the commission, which was handed over when K Rosaiah was the chief minister, will bring about the downfall of many, if it were to be made public,” he said. The commission worked for nearly three years trying to find out the reason for the firing, with the government spending crores of rupees on the investigation.

Although it is not clear what was said in the commission’s report, here are some records to show some preliminary reports:

The special branch of the Hyderabad city police and the state intelligence bureau in their preliminary reports had stated that the police firing on the protestors was ‘indiscriminate and unwarranted’. The reports admitted that the police had shot both at the protestors as well as panic-stricken people who were present around the mosque at the time of the incident.

Further, the commission also relied upon the post mortem reports which indicated that the police firing was indiscriminate. The report also went on to state that the bullets were fired from self loading rifles which are normally used in battle against extremists such as terrorists and Naxalites.

The commission also had a report from the City Security Wing, which stated that 90 rounds were fired by the police at that time. Six constables of the Quick Response Team of the city police had fired 72 rounds, three constables of the City Armed Reserve had fired 11 rounds, and three constables of the west and north zone task forces had fired seven rounds at Punch Mohalla and Charminar bus stop near the Mecca Masjid.

Khan goes on to state that the policemen were chosen specifically for the job by the then additional commissioner of police (crime branch). The commission, in its fact finding report, had also indicated that there was a connection between the blasts and the police firing.

“When the commission submitted its report to the government, the Congress government as usual dumped it in cold storage,” alleged Khan. “The government fears to place the facts before the people,” he added.

“We expected the report to be presented during the budget session, but that was not done. What was worse was that even the Muslim representatives in the assembly did not make any noise about it,” he said.

Khan said that many families who lost their loved ones in the firing are badly affected by the incident and it only makes it worse when the report is not acted upon. “We will continue with our demand, and fight until the report comes out in the open,” said Khan.