Govt orders probe, 25 arrested

MUMBAI - About two dozen persons were arrested on Sunday in connection with the riots in south Mumbai a day earlier, in which two persons were killed, nearly a hundred injured and scores of vehicles destroyed.


Nithin Belle

Published: Tue 14 Aug 2012, 12:20 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:50 AM

The crime branch picked up 25 miscreants from across Mumbai and charged them with rioting, molestation and damaging public property. The state government has directed the police to conduct a probe into the rioting outside Azad Maidan on Saturday, in which several police personnel and journalists were attacked.

A few city-based organisations had called for a rally at the ground — the traditional place in Mumbai where rallies and demonstrations are held — to protest against the attacks on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar. However, some of the speakers gave provocative speeches and trouble-makers distributed images of violence in Assam, triggering off riots in Mumbai.

Police sources, however, maintained that the organisers led by the Raza Academy had nothing to do with the riots. Groups of youngsters, who were armed with sticks, had come prepared to create trouble. The provocative speeches led to these groups attacking the police and the media who were gathered outside the venue.

Some of the vandals also tried to molest women constables, while a few snatched weapons from the police. The authorities had not expected such a large crowd, as the organisers had said only a few thousands would attend. But more than 20,000 people had gathered at Azad Maidan and the police presence was inadequate to control the mob.

Initially the police caned the rioters. Later they warned them and finally opened fire, killing two youngsters. About a hundred persons were injured the riots, more than half of who were police personnel. Several police vehicles and OB vans of television networks were burnt and nearly a 50 public transport buses of the Bombay Electric Supply and Transport undertaking (BEST) were also damaged by the rioters.

However, the authorities sent in reinforcements and by Saturday evening normalcy was restored around CST station. The Maharashtra government has issued a red alert and rapid action force troops, along with other para-military forces are on patrol across Mumbai.

Himnashu Roy, joint commissioner (crime), told reporters on Sunday that the police were going over the records to identify the leaders who had made provocative speeches that led to the rioting. The authorities also plan to recover the cost of damage from the organisers. The crime branch is also scanning CCTV footage from the area to identify the culprits who indulged in rioting.

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