Aligarh Riot 2006
Aligarh Riots put lock on the lock industry : article by A. U. Asif.
ALIGARH POLICE SHOT TO KILL
by Seema Mustafa
New Delhi, April 12: Seven Muslims were shot dead and 18 others of the same community were injured in the police firing in Aligarh on clashing mobs. All the dead were shot above the waist in a case of excessive police action, with a fact-finding mission by the Minorities Commission confirming this in a report which will soon be presented to the government with a list of recommendations.
In a damaging revelation for the district police and administration, the inspector-general, Kanpur range, who had been sent by the state government to inquire into the incident, has said that the police firing was not necessary and there was no justification for it. He has said that he had sufficient evidence to prove that the situation could have been brought under control without the police resorting to firing if the administration had acted with a little intelligence and responsibility. The Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh, worried about the political fallout of the firing, has acted quickly to transfer the district magistrate, the senior superintendent of police as well as the SP, City, and the additional district magistrate. This, informed sources said, was in itself prima facie evidence that the state government was aware of the situation and had accepted the findings of the official inquiry committee that innocent persons had lost their lives because of a "clear case of high-handedness" and totally avoidable action by the police.
The Minorities Commission fact-finding mission has confirmed that all the shots were fired above the waist, hitting the victims directly on the upper parts of the body in what is then described as an intent to kill. The police at that time had justified the action to visiting reporters, insisting that there was no option left but to open fire. Of course, the fact that the victims had died because the police had not kept to the well-specified regulations is being kept a closely-guarded secret, with no government-level confirmation, although the news had spread like wildfire at the time through the streets of Aligarh.
At the time of the incident the crowds were merely pelting stones at police vehicles, with the top-level inquiry now maintaining that the situation could have been brought under control without the excessive action. The sources said that all the dead and injured belonged to one community, suggesting a communal angle in the Aligarh administration's action.
The tension in Aligarh has now acquired a Muslim-versus-police hue, with the Mulayam Singh Yadav government hoping to defuse it with the action taken against senior officials at both the city and district levels. The latest instructions call for the police to use rubber bullets to control mobs, as these will incapacitate victims for a while but not kill or maim them. Police sources said, however, that rubber bullets are always in short supply and are almost never available for use.
The sources said that the officer in charge is directly responsible for the order to fire, and pointed out that even today the police manual does not limit the firing to below the waist as has been recommended by several committees appointed to look into police excesses in the past. In fact, the phrase still used is to "fire to effect", although the new instructions have directed the use of rubber bullets for controlling unarmed mobs.