Dhule clash: Cops let it escalate, targeted Muslims, claim activists (Hindustan Times)
“The local police allowed violence to escalate in Dhule during a communal clash on January 6 and then systematically targeted the Muslim community, killing six people, claimed a report by a team of activists. On Sunday, a team comprising — social activist Shabnam Hashmi from ANHAD, New Delhi, Ram Puniyani of All India secular Forum, professor Apoorva Anand of Delhi University, advocate Nihalsing Rathod of Human Rights Law Network, and several others — visited the town to investigate the violence, the third in the region since 2008.
“‘Based on our interaction with victims, leaders, locals and officials, there is no doubt about the police’s connivance in the violence,” alleged Hashmi. “All six who died were Muslims, and the police shot people above the waist, with a clear intention to kill rather than disperse the mob.’ [...]
“As per testimonies collected by the team, the incident was triggered after a Muslim auto driver was beaten by the owner of an eatery in Macchi Bazar. ‘When the driver went to the police station to file a complaint, the officials were hostile and did not register his complaint, following which a mob gathered and people started pelting stones,’ said Hashmi. ‘It was not a Hindu-Muslim issue, but the police only let the violence escalate,’ she said.”
Police Complicit in Dhule Riot: Fact Finding Report by Concerned Citizens (January 19, 2013):
“There were differing versions of the cause of violence on 6 January. We were told that it was largely a result of the insensitive handing of a minor quarrel by the police. It was clear from the statements of both Hindus and Muslims that tension could have been diffused easily had police taken proper steps to diffuse the tension, which was building up. It did not intervene and told the people to settle the dispute by themselves. The police allowed crowds to assemble from both sides. One can see from the recordings that mobs which assembled started confronting each other with stones. We were also told that the first incidence took place at around 2 to 2.15 pm and mobs from both sides started assembling soon after that. It is clear that both Hindus and Muslims had indulged in stone throwing. What is perplexing is that the police decided to move into the Muslims areas with Hindu mob behind them. Police started firing indiscriminately at Muslims. [...]
“Forty-two people suffered bullet injuries, six died. Legs of two of the injured had to be amputated. None of the injured went to the civil hospital. We were told that the Muslims avoid going to civil hospital due to their experience of experience of the 2008 riots. In 2008 Muslims were attacked by Hindus when they tried to go to the civil hospital as it falls in a Hindu-dominated locality. Due to the experience of 2008 this time, all the injured were taken to private hospitals.
“It was reported that none of the injured was taken to the hospital by the police. We were also told by the relatives of those killed that they were not allowed to lodge FIRs. They were told that the deceased had already been made accused and were treated as rioters. The injured have not been able to muster courage to file FIRs, nor have the owners of the damaged property been able to do so.
“More than 35 Muslim houses were looted, burnt and destroyed. Destruction of these houses was complete. All of it seems to have been done with clinical precision. We also found four Hindu households burnt, one of them burnt totally. While Muslims are ready to name the attackers, Hindus told us that they did not want to name anybody although they know the attackers.
“The looting, burning and destruction of Muslim houses was done by mobs under the protection of the police. In one of the recordings, a senior police officer is seen exhorting the mobs to move forward and attack. The police is also seen standing silently while houses are being burnt. What the police did was to drive away the Muslims by firing, leaving their houses unprotected and vulnerable.”