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1993 riots case: Prime witness identifies Sena leader Sarpotdar
June 06, 2008 21:11 IST
A prime witness in the 1993 riots case identified Shiv Sena leader Madhukar Sarpotdar before a special riots court in Mumbai on Friday.
Police Inspector Madhav Khanolkar told the court that he was on duty on December 27, 1992, when a mob of people from the Ganesh Utsav Samiti Mandal gathered near the Ganesh temple in suburban Kherwadi area of Mumbai. He said that Sarpotdar, one K P Naik and Ramesh Pawar from the Sena were present with the trustees of the Mandal.
The trio had given inflammatory speeches after taking out a procession in the area.
Khanolkar, now retired, was a police inspector at the Nirmal Nagar police station when the case against Sarpotdar was registered.
"I cannot tell the exact words of their speech but these speeches were regarding the demolition of the Babri Masjid and they said that the government was siding with Muslims and harassing the Hindus," said Khanolkar.
He said that some of the slogans on the placards carried by the mob stated 'Mandir Wahin Banega', 'Is desh main rehna hain toh Vande Maataram kehna hoga'.
"The speeches were instigating and inflammatory to the two religions," he added.
Defence lawyer J P Bagoria, however, cross-examined him, asking if Khanolkar was aware that an application was made seeking permission for the processions, which the latter was not aware of. Bagoria presented copies of the application before the court, stating that the procession was religious in nature.
Khanolkar denied it saying that the procession was for political intent under the garb of religion and it violated the orders of the Commissioner of Police, restricting the assembly of more than five persons, for security reasons.
Bagoria then brought to the court's notice that the station diary entry on December 27 did not include any untoward incident. The offence was registered after two days.
Khanolkar is the last witness to be examined in the case. Five witnesses, who have already deposed before the court, turned hostile with one police constable even claiming that he has suffered memory loss and thus cannot remember the incident.
Pandurang Tayde, the police constable, entrusted with the duty of making a diary noting all the political activities in the communally tense areas of Nirmal Nagar, told the court last month that he had met with an accident in 2004, following which he lost his memory.
On December 27, 1992, former Member of Parliament and senior Shiv Sena leader Sarpotdar, along with other party leaders, led a mob of more than 200 people towards a Ganesh temple in Bandra.
According to the prosecution case, Sarpotdar made a derogatory speech against Muslims, following which the mob turned violent. A case of stone pelting and inciting the mob was filed against seven persons.
The court has adjourned the matter till June 23, as the officer from the State Home Department, who gave sanction for prosecution in this case, will appear before magistrate R C Bapat-Sarkar