16 yrs after Hari Masjid firing, riot accused acquitted
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Accused number 35 in the Hari Masjid firing case, Mapkar was the only one to have waited this long for the final closure of the case. Sessions court Judge C M Salunke had separated his trial from that of the other accused after he raised objections during the trial.
Mapkar considers that as his first step to activism. With several letters filed before the police and demanding a FIR against Kapse, Farooq finally moved the High court seeking a CBI inquiry.
Mapkar, who was booked for unlawful assembly and rioting inside the Hari Masjid, was acquitted after the court observed that the prosecution failed to make out any case against him and there was no evidence against any of the accused booked in the case. The court also observed that the serious discrepancies on the part of the police.
On January 10, 1993, when Mumbai was burning in the communal discord, Hari Masjid was one of the first targets. A group of 5-6 men allegedly led by Kapse had entered the Masjid and fired at the people indiscriminately. Farooq, who was offering Namaz, was fired on his abdomen when he tried to escape. Six other men were fired at along with Farooq and then dragged to the R A K Marg police station. According to the police, Mapkar was rioting at the Masjid and so was fired by the police.
However, the police was unable to prove where he was picked up from and what time the incident had taken place. The investigating officer in the case failed to support Kapse's claim of how he had ordered fire following the mob violence. Mapkar, who was shot from a point blank range revolver, had spent a week in jail with bullet wedged in his abdomen before he secured bail. "I have since the beginning maintained that the police had indiscriminately fired at the men offering Namaz. Today our stand is vindicated. Though we didn't except anything from the state, we have expected that the judiciary would help in surfacing the truth. Even after 16 years, it's a great sense of pride for me and my family," said an evidently jubilant Mapkar.
For Mapkar's lawyer Shakil Ahmed, it's another step ahead. "We have thousands of such case pending. We hope that the state will not treat the victims as accused and drag the case for so long," Ahmed said. "The special court though have picked up a handful of cases, many cases have been forgotten. If the state wants to offer any compensation, they should reopen the cases and ensure that justice is done," said Ahmed.
Justice Srikrishna commission set up to look into the riot cases had indicted Kapse's team for opening fire without any provocation. However, a departmental inquiry found that the police were not at fault.
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