HC Calls Suleiman Bakery Firing 'Cruel', But Lets Off Tyagi

HC Calls Suleiman Bakery Firing 'Cruel', But Lets Off Tyagi
The Bombay High Court today upheld a lower court's order discharging former Mumbai police commissioner Ram Deo Tyagi and eight others but said that firing in Suleiman Bakery by police during the 1993 Mumbai riots was "cruel and atrocious".

Justice Mridula Bhatkar upheld the trial court's conclusion that Tyagi--a joint commissioner at the time--and eight other policemen had no intention to murder.

Eight persons were killed and 12 injured in the firing inside the Bakery, in south Mumbai's Pydhonie area, when the city was ravaged by post-Babri demolition riots.

"The learned trial judge has rightly observed that the firing in the bakery was unnecessary. Indeed, it was a cruel and atrocious act on the part of the police. In the case of the communal riots a humane and sensitive approach is expected," Bhatkar said.

But at the same time, Bhatkar added that "there is no sufficient evidence against respondent no.2 (Tyagi) and other respondents that they had common intention to murder the inmates in the bakery."

On January 9, 1993, Tyagi and his team reached the spot when they were informed that some rioters were firing at police from terrace of the bakery.

Tyagi asked his men to break open the door of bakery and go in.

Incidentally during search, no firearms were found inside the bakery and the Justice Srikrishna Commission, which probed the communal riots, had held that firing was unwarranted.

The state government then filed cases of murder and other offences against Tyagi and 17 other policemen.

In April 2003, the trial court discharged Tyagi and eight others from the case.

Though the state did not appeal against the trial court judgement, one of injured filed a revision application in the High Court, challenging the discharge.

His lawyers, Yusuf Muchalla and others, argued that Tyagi's order to break open the door was unnecessary, as the bakery was 'peaceful', thus reflecting his intention to murder.

But the high court, while agreeing with trial court's order, observed that police's action must be examined in the context of events happening in the area.

"The entire area was charged with hostile emotions between Hindu-Muslim communities and the atmosphere was full of tension and distrust. Under such circumstances the order to break open the door was very much within the power of Tyagi," Bhatkar said.

The trial of those who were not discharged by trial court is still incomplete.

Tyagi, who went on to become Mumbai Police Commissioner, joined Shiv Sena after retirement.

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