Bombay experienced its worst communal riots in December 1992 and January 1993. Justice B. N. Srikrishna headed a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to understand the background of the riots, what happened during the riots and how to prevent similar riots in the future. After examining 502 witnesses and 2,903 exhibits, the Commission submitted its report on February 16, 1998.
Important Links Related to the Justice Srikrishna Commission
- Full Text of the Justice Srikrishna Commission Report – Volume 1
- Full Text of the Justice Srikrishna Commission Report – Volume 2
- Action Taken Report on the Srikrishna Commission Report by Government of Maharashtra
- Teesta Setalvad’s take on the Srikrishna Report.
- Information on 1992 – 1993 Mumbai Riots and Justice Srikrishna Commission
Terms of Reference of the Justice Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry
At the instance of Indian Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, the Government of Maharashtra constituted a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the violence and riots that occurred in Bombay in December 1992 and January 1993.
Ad verbatim from the Srikrishna Report:
By a Notification, Home Department No.FIR–5693/Bombay–1/Appointment/SP–2, dated 25th January 1993, the Government of Maharashtra constituted this Commission of Inquiry with the following Terms of Reference:
i) The circumstances, events and immediate causes of the incidents which occurred in the Bombay Police Commissionerate area in December 1992 on or after the 6th December 1992 and, again in January 1993, on or after the 6th January 1993;
ii) Whether any individual or group of individuals or any other organization, were responsible for such events and circumstances;
iii) The adequacy or otherwise of the precautionary and preventive measures, taken by the police preceding the aforesaid incidents;
iv) Whether the steps taken by the police in controlling the riots were adequate and proper and whether the police firing resulting in deaths was justified or not; and
v) The measures, long and short term, which are required to be taken by the administration to avoid recurrence of such incidents, to secure communal harmony and also to suggest improvements in law and order machinery.
When the Shiv Sena – BJP came to power in Maharashtra in March 1995, they expanded the terms of reference of the commission to include the following (taken Ad verbatim from the Srikrishna Report):
vi) The circumstances and the immediate cause of the incidents commonly known as the serial bomb–blasts of the 12th March 1993, which occurred in the Bombay Police Commissionerate area;
vii) Whether the incidents referred to in term (i), have any common link with the incidents referred to in term (vi) above; and
viii) Whether the incidents referred to in term (i) and in term (vi) were part of a common design.
Justice Srikrishna Commission’s Findings And Conclusions on Mumbai Riots
Justice Srikrishna Commission Report contains Justice B. N. Srikrishna’s findings on all the 8 terms of reference of the commission. To view all 8 results, please visit this link for the FULL SRIKRISHNA REPORT.
On the important second term of reference “Whether any individual or group of individuals or any other organization, were responsible for such events and circumstances”, the Srikrisha Commission states (ad verbatim):
1.1 December 1992
i) As far as the December 1992 phase of the rioting by the Muslims is concerned, there is no material to show that it was anything other than a spontaneous reaction of leaderless and incensed Muslim mobs, which commenced as peaceful protest, but soon degenerated into riots. The Hindus must share a part of the blame in provoking the Muslims by their celebration rallies, inciting slogans and rasta rokos which were all organised mostly by Shiv Sainiks, and to a marginal extent by BJP activists.
1.2 January 1993
i) Turning to the events of January 1993, the Commission’s view is that though several incidents of violence took place during the period from 15th December 1992 to 5th January 1993, large–scale rioting and violence was commenced from 6th January 1993 by the Hindus brought to fever pitch by communally inciting propaganda unleashed by Hindu communal organizations and writings in newspapers like Saamna and Navaakal. It was taken over by Shiv Sena and its leaders who continued to whip up communal frenzy by their statements and acts and writings and directives issued by the Shiv Sena Pramukh Bal Thackeray. The attitude of Shiv Sena as reflected in the Time magazine interview given by Bal Thackeray and its doctrine of ‘retaliation’, as expounded by Shri Sarpotdar and Shri Manohar Joshi, together with the thinking of Shiv Sainiks that ‘Shiv Sena’s terror was the true guarantee of the safety of citizens’, were responsible for the vigilantism of Shiv Sainiks. Because some criminal Muslims killed innocent Hindus in one corner of the city, the Shiv Sainiks ‘retaliated’ against several innocent Muslims in other corners of the city.
ii) There is no material on record suggesting that even during this phase any known Muslim individuals or organizations were responsible for the riots, though a number of individual Muslims and Muslim criminal elements appear to have indulged in violence, looting, arson and rioting.
For Term of reference V, the commission states states (ad verbatim) “police personnel were found actively participating in riots, communal incidents or incidents of looting arson and so on. The Commission strongly recommends that Government take strict action against”. The commission goes on to list these police personnel.
Attempts to Thwart and Prevent the Srikrishna Commission
- On January 23, 1996, the Maharashtra Home Department sent a notification (No.FIR–5696/Mumbai–1/Appointment/JC) to disband the commission on the grounds “that it had taken unduly long time to produce its report and that its report, even if produced, was only likely to open old wounds which had healed”.
- During the two weeks in 1996 that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister, he sent a letter to the Maharashtra Shiv Sena Chief Minister, Manohar Joshi, to revive the Commission. Subsequently the Commission was reconstituted on May 28, 1996.
- The Justice Srikrishna Commission’s Report was on submitted on February 16, 1998 and placed in the Maharashtra assembly on August 6, 1998.