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Home > News > Interview

The Rediff Interview/Yusuf H Muchala, advocate

'Mumbai won't burn if Srikrishna report is implemented'

October 25, 2007

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Yusuf H Muchala, a senior advocate in the Bombay high court, has been fighting for the victims of the 1993 Mumbai riots for many years. He has filed a petition in the Supreme Court that the Maharashtra government should act on the Justice Srikrishna report which probed the December 1992-January 1993 riots following the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The report had been rejected by the then Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena-led government that had come to power soon after.

In a recent interview with Senior Associate Editor Onkar Singh, Muchala rejected the plea that the implementation of the report would set Mumbai on fire.

The BJP-Shiv Sena government had rejected the Srikrishna report outright.

That's right. We have gone to the Supreme Court against the decision.

But the Congress-led state government says it wants to implement the report.

If what they say is right then they should stop associating themselves with the decision of the earlier government. They should categorically say that the decision of the previous government was wrong, but they are not willing to disassociate from the previous decision.

Is it true that the police has harassed the riot victims instead of helping them?

Instances have been brought before the public about the prejudice of the police and the state government to harass the victims. I had cited the case of the Suleman Bakery in which the Special Task Force had said a police officer was guilty of nine cold-blooded murders and to cover that up they filed a case in 1993 implicating innocent people.

The administration is not serious about prosecuting those who have been found to have wrongly implicated innocent people. On the contrary, they are opposing their application for discharge. It is a clear case of victimising the victim.

What is the status of your petition in the Supreme Court?

We have challenged the earlier action taken report in the Supreme Court and we want this to be set aside. We have argued that they (the BJP-Sena government) rejected the Justice Srikrishna report to avoid political embarrassment to their parties.

You say there is prejudice against the victims. Have you been able to establish it?

There are many such cases where the prejudice of the police and the state administration is clearly established. But in the Suleman Bakery case it is very evident. Nine innocent persons were murdered and the Special Task Force which reinvestigated the matter in 2000 said the action was totally unnecessary and called them cold-blooded murders. The action initiated under false FIRs (First Information Reports) is still continuing. In cases where action is being taken against policemen, there is no proper prosecution.

There is an impression that no government in Maharashtra wants to take action on the Srikrishna report as it would set Mumbai on fire.

This is a misplaced fear. I don't think the situation in Mumbai is that dangerous. After the Justice Srikrishna report there have been many bomb blasts in the city. Civil society has had the courage to stand together. Muslims have worked with other communities shoulder to shoulder to provide succour and relief to the victims.

Earlier Interview: 'Don't look at it as a Hindu-Muslim problem'

Are you saying that those who talk of Mumbai burning are in fact trying to get out of a tight corner?

I am not a political analyst. My reading of the situation in Mumbai is that the civil society is fairly strong and would not allow such a thing to occur. The present government lacks the political will to act against people who talk of Mumbai burning.

The Congress-led government has been in power for some time but have they dug up the Srikrishna report now because the Gujarat election is round the corner?

It is wrong to say that the state government has dug up the report. The NGOs who have been working in the field have kept the issue alive. Given a chance they (the government) would have buried the report a long time back.

When the government says it would implement the report in toto, would you say they are making a deceptive statement?

Absolutely deceptive because they say one thing but their actions are totally different. They may have the courage to implement it or they may lack the courage but we as civil society will keep on fighting for justice and for the rule of law to prevail. Our petition before the Supreme Court comes up in the last week of October.

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