Suryavanshi, Medha Patkar, M.B. Shah, J.G. Khairnar,  Gopinath Landge, Shyam Patil, Avinash Patil, Vinod, Sandeep Barve


A team of concerned citizens investigated the  communal riots in Dhule which erupted 9th October after 16 odd years, the previous one having taken place in 1992. The brutal attacks by  outside mobs of communally charged youth equipped with arms have shaken the people of Dhule. The damage both in terms of human life and property is enormous. Most of the survivors are mill workers and daily wage laborers or small traders from poor households. No high ranking Govt. official or political leader visited the area and could promise them of building their future. Shocking revelations of the violence against minorities were witnessed. The team gives horrid details of the violence and makes many recommendations.



Background: The communal riots in Dhule which erupted in October 2008 after 16 odd years, the previous one having taken place in 1992, that too for a very brief period have shocked not just the progressive community of socially conscientious individuals and organizations, but also the average peacefully living and peace loving citizens and common people of Dhule and elsewhere who could never even imagine the ourburst of violence. The brutal attacks by strong mobs of communally frenzy youth equipped with arms have shaken the people of Dhule who always believed that their city and district was not ‘riot – prone’.


It is not the curfew, but the communal tension that suggested to the various organizations and the people of Dhule, the need for the administration and civil society to be pro-active with short term and long term measures and processes that need be planned. It was this that made our group take up a visit of the various communities  in the riot – affected areas, the relief camps and also meet the concerned Government officials. The team of the below mentioned social activists and eminent citizens  had visited various parts of the Dhule district on the 9th of October, 2008 in order to understand and assess the situation and make recommendations for action.


Context and brief history of the violence: The communal tensions in Dhule though sparked off with an incident on the 5th of October, were silently brewing for some time, with provocative posters of the Hindu Rakshak Samiti that were pasted all over the district by Hiraman Gavali of the Samiti  and local Corporator, Mahesh Mistry. Some organizations especially Movement for Peace and Justice and some eminent persons had a delegation to the Superintendent of Police, Dhule with a plea that the poster be removed. There was no prompt action as it had to be a political decision. We are also told that on the 5th, Mr. Sabri Sheik Bangarwal of Congress (I) had a welcome procession of hundreds of Muslims on his return from Haj and when it reached the Prabhakar Talkies, someone allegedly pelted a stone at the one of the banners of the Hindu Rakshak Samiti over there.  It was immediately presumed that some one from the Muslim community must have done this, quickly snowballing into violent attacks against the Muslims. Some of the Hindus invited a group from a nearby place where they had gathered. This was followed  by a clash among the two groups leading to a series of shops of the poor Bora (Muslim) community (crackers’ shops) on the Agra Road being burnt.  Subsequently, there was the violence in Gajanan Colony which then spread to other parts of the city the same day.  Houses in Sitaram Chawl, Sonya Maruti Chawl and localities near railway station were brunt on the same day.


Gajanan Colony is an area with a majority of the population belonging to the Hindu community, while there is a significant Muslim population immediately next to it at Gaffoor nagar. One of the apparent reasons for the clashes to intensify may also have been the common ground in between Gafoornagar and Gajananad Nagar, which was used by both the communities for the morning ablutions, over which and there used to be some frictions earlier as well, we gathered.


Gajanan Colony and Gafoornagar resembled a virtual war zone, with the (imaginary) lines of fear and hatred clearly drawn. We could clearly witness strong communal feelings against the Muslims. The community has still not settled down in peace and has not yet started to think about accepting the neighbours. They in fact did not allow us to visit the Muslim locality next door. People were demanding police chowkies at Gajanan Colony and strict action against the criminal actors. Some also pointed but to a man moving in the next community as one who was involved in the crime but could not name anyone. Most of them, supporters present, all Hindus were in a revengeful mood but the local people who lost everything were in pain and anguish.


There are hundreds of children, women and men and children in each of these camps. Most of the survivors of the violence are mill workers and daily wage laborers or small traders from poor households, while a handful are employees with the Government all of whom are completely destitute with the attack, with tears in their eyes and anguish in their hearts. The complaint we heard was that no high ranking Govt. official or political leader visited the area and could promise them of building their future. No compensation has been decided for the material losses, even by the Chief Minister. There are about 200 houses badly destroyed in Gajanan nagar and the losses would run into crores (millions) of rupees and must be compensated for by the State Government.


Destruction of houses of Muslims and violence against them in different areas: Whilst the destruction of houses of the families belonging to the Hindu community, having taken place at a stretch at two or three places, is more visible and may arouse hard feelings against a certain community in the minds of some people.  But one only has to look a bit deeper to realize the fact that the Muslim community has as well been deeply scarred by the mob violence. The impacts are visible at numerous places, in a scattered manner though. Apparently, even the media had not covered the attacks on the Muslim colonies as much as they had covered the attacks on the Gajanan Colony.  We had visited these areas where the homes of Muslims were burnt.


At Sitaram chawl, we also saw the relief being collected by the Hindu residents for their Muslim brethren all of whom expressed anguish that their decades old neighbors were attacked. These ordinary mill workers were in fact against this violent communalism. Many denizens of the area, told us in unison that the local people, whether Hindu or Muslim, simply don’t have the physical capacity or mental inclination to inflict this gruesome violence and that too on this scale. They are in fact absolutely against violence and would never resort to it. We had also met Rameshrao Dabhade, neighbor of Jaffer Mistry who too had helped save the family of his neighbor, but not his house and hence was very sad. Jafferbhai, Rameshrao and his family members narrated that there was a total amity among the two communities and in fact they had set up Ganapati and celebrated the festival together. Some of the locals had in fact tried to rescue the Muslim women and took them to their relatives’ houses. “It is surely the work of some groups from outsiders”, they said, who came in mobs of hundreds in trucks and vandalized the houses.


Relief camp at the National Urdu School:


We reached this camp in the afternoon where more than 3000 people from the Muslim community were staying. The men were staying on the ground floor and the women and children on the first floor. The people were upset that neither the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister nor any official had visited them thus far. However, when we asked the Collector about the visit of officials to the affected areas, she said that she had personally visited the National Urdu School Camp and had put the DSO and Dy. Collector on the job. Women and men at the camp came from various village communities where houses of the minorities were burnt and staying in those villages became impossible against violence and threats. and  also included those from Dondaicha and other villages, who were wanting to go back, but without security could not think of going back.


At the Sarvajanik Hospital: Shocking Revelations of the Violence inflicted against minorities. We encountered a series of gross cases of violations upon our visit to the Sarvajanik Hospital at Azad Nagar which is being  managed by the Muslim community since decades. The Sarvajanik Hospital was started by the Bohra community and has been rendering medical services for persons from all communities, beyond religious lines, for many years. We were shocked to see  that all the beds in the male and female wards were full of injured, beaten up and burnt patients and felt that the Hospital was seriously falling short of adequate beds and resources. Though the Hospital has specialists like orthopedics, it requires more resource support. There are patients both from the city as well as from different villages such as Mohadi. Some women were admitted and more were coming in with fractures and wounds from beatings.


One grave and repeated complaint which  we heard from all of them was that the patients of the minority community were not only not being admitted at the Government  Civil Hospital but also not being treated properly and fully. They were in fact being beaten up for 2-3 days and driven away. The same treatment was being meted out to social workers who were attempting to admit the sick and injured. “The Dean at the Civil Hospital is not even lifting the phone and even if he lifts it, he is callously putting it aside”, they burst out. All those who were driven away or discharged from the Civil Hospital told us that the doctors inside were stopped from treating them by a crowd of some fundamentalists, who threatened everyone and also took to beating a few.


People at the hospital also complained to us that the parents and relatives of the dead are not able to see the bodies of their deceased dear ones for 3-4 days. We have also heard that some doctors were persecuted, in particular, for treating Muslim patients. The Hospital of Dr. Mobin Siddiqqui, for instance, was completely razed to the ground and burnt down. The driver of the Civil Hospital ambulance, Masood and Muzaffar, who used to assist with welfare work in the hospital was badly beaten up as well.


Some more incidents of atrocities and violence perpetrated against Muslims:


There are many cases of attacks by violent mobs as well as by the police. From the kind of cases of police violence we heard, one of the conclusions we could draw was that the police had entered the first few houses in every row and tried to terrorize and intimidate the people. There are glaring incidents of people being shot, beaten up, dragged on the road, pulled out from their homes, workplace, acid thrown upon them etc. We were also told that in quite a few cases the police merely witnesses as mobs ransacked the houses and beat people.


We recount herewith a few of them:


We were informed of a shocking incident that a 26 years old Muslim youth, Saleem Murteja Ansari was shot right in his fore head, by an unnamed police official at Azad Nagar who caught hold of Ansari’s collar and fired right into his forehead. The complainants, who spoke to us at the Sarvajanik Hospital, told us that the Post Mortem revealed a bullet injury in the forehead.


Nazir Hasan of Garibnawaz nagar who had gone to the Dutt Mandir, Devane was badly beaten up and his mother-in-law and three young daughters were taken away and he was brought to the Hospital by some good Samaritan. Their whereabouts are not known till date.


Nisar Ahmed (30 years), who along with constable Salem was moving to take shelter was brutally beaten up by a mob of 15 – 20 people and was dragged for an hour, during which he had become unconscious, but was still dragged. In a critical state of injury, he was admitted just for day at the Civil Hospital and was discharged.


Mohd. Farhan, a 5 year old child had gone to Devpur to participate in the Id and today has ended up with a fracture in his hand.


The President of the Dhule District Minority Cell of the NCP was as well badly beaten up when he was in fact trying to help the police control the violence.


Saleem was beaten up near the emergency ward and had acid wounds. He said goondas who had come to the Hospital were in the car of the local Corporator Mahesh Mistry and that he may also be able to identify them.


Many Muslims, men and women were beaten up and driven away by the SRP and police when the people were in their daily chores or work. Some of the relatives of the patients are in jail / police custody and their whereabouts are not known. The relatives were/are not informed of the details of their arrest and detention, which is against law and Supreme Court Guidelines.


It also appears to us that the Muslim community was threatened by the police on the 2nd and the 3rd day, which can be a communal reaction within the police force. It is significant to note that there were no complaints from the Hindu community of any atrocities or excesses by the police, where as we happened to listen to umpteen number of grievances against the police from the Muslim community.


Role of the media:


Many victims of the violence reported that some sections in the media, indulging in biased reporting and did not / could not cover the full facts or repeated the telecast of ill-based reportage, which is actually increasing the

violence and causing it to spread like wild fire. In particular, they pointed out the Ekvira Channel of Mr. Sharma for indulging in this.


Interface with the District Collector:


Subsequent to the visit to the various areas impacted by the violence and the relief camps, the citizen’s team had an interface with the District Collector Ms. Prajakta Lavangare and a team of senior officials for about an hour on a range of issues and the future course of action that needs to be taken and concerns that must be addressed on a war-footing. The Collector informed us that doctors from the Municipal Corporation are asked to take rounds of various camps. She assured that there shall be no discrimination in health- care treatment. She also assured that the State Commission for Women would be urged to intervene in the matter to ensure that the specific concerns of women are addressed.


We also impressed upon the District Collector the need to immediately hold a meeting with all the organizations and concerned citizens interested in communal harmony in Dhule and ensure that those who are keen to re-establish peace and provide relief assistance must be allowed entry into the affected areas and the camps. The administration and relief groups must reach out to the various camps.





There is no doubt that the whole process of political interactions to instigation that seems to have led to the riots is complex and complicated. Unless, this is dissected and put forth, neither the co-operation of communities can be enlisted nor the Govt. or society would be guided on the right path of communal harmony.


Multi Member Judicial Commission to be appointed:


It is, therefore, necessary that a Multi Member Judicial Commission under a former Judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court is appointed to independently investigate and report on the cause, effects and further actions to be initiated, within a fixed time frame. The Commission must also comprise of senior social activists working on issues of communal harmony, peace and justice and senior law enforcement official/s of proven track record of human rights compliance and secular credentials. The Commission must also be provided the full assistance of a Special Investigation Team, comprising of doctors, lawyers, social workers, experts and police.


Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Commission must include investigating into the causative factors and forces behind the communal riots, the sequence of events and resultant impacts and recommending future course of action for the state and civil society with various civil and political organizations.


Violence by communally frenzy mobs


There are grave concerns of many human rights violations of people belonging to both Hindu and Muslim communities impacted by the violence and strife. Cases must be registered on the basis of complaints received from each and every victim/survivor. All such persons, whose names are being suggested by the victims as being responsible or indulged in the violence or instigation, must be immediately summoned for investigation and action initiated as per law.


All those how had indulged in communal violence and caused destruction of life, limb and property must be dealt with as per law, no matter how so ever high or influential.


We also heard many allegations and counter allegations of women from either community being raped and molested by men from the other community. We could not hear such complaints, prima facie, from women though.  The Women’s Commission and the police must urgently investigate into the veracity of all the complaints and initiate appropriate legal action and render justice to the women, wherever necessary.


Atrocities and excesses by the police:


We recommend that all the police atrocities and excesses as narrated by the victims/patients/survivors/ and their relatives, young and old, male and female, be urgently registered and inquiries made. Towards this end, it is urgently necessary that all the complaints of both the communities are lodged by the police specially camping at the relief camps/hospitals, which should forthwith be converted into FIRs. If the specific officials who are being accused cannot be identified, the Officer(s) in charge must be held responsible and action initiated.


We also demand that the Guidelines of the Supreme Court of India in the D.K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal must be fully complied with.


It is necessary that security is provided by establishing a police station at Shivaji Nagar and police chowkies at Gajanan Colony as per people’s demands.


The police must be given special trainings on the appropriate laws, D.K. Basu Guidelines, communal harmony and secular mandate of their occupation.


All the victims of the violence must be provided free legal aid by the District Legal Services Authority.


Right to food and other amenities at the relief camps:


Adequate food grains and food supplies must be ensured at all the relief camps, belonging to or run by any community as per the Interim Orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in W.P. No. 198/2001 (PUCL vs. UoI). In particular, the order of 35 kgs of rice per person must be immediately implemented.  All riot affected persons must be provided Antyodaya cards for the next few years.


Necessary amenities such as toilet blocks, and water facilities must be made available so that no community conflicts erupt.


Violence in medical treatment and health care:


The serious complaint of many patients of the minority community not being admitted at the Civil Hospital and not being treated, or treated adequately or unfairly discharged as also being beaten up has shocked us.  We were appalled to learn that the number of Muslim patients at the Civil Hospital can be counted on fingers, though the casualties and injuries amongst Muslims is equally, if not more high. We also received complaints of social workers, who had taken Muslim patients to the Civil Hospital being roughed up.


The administration must urgently address these gross violations and ensure that any one from any community is given proper treatment at the Civil Hospital.


Social workers should be appointed to not just help into admission, but also for follow up of their social and economic problems with the administration. They must be provided a sense of guarantee that neither they nor the patients they bring would be ill-treated or tortured.


A team of the district administration, headed by the Collector and accompanied by the health and police department officials must visit the Sarvajanik Hospital at Azad Nagar.


There is a pressing need for health care at all the relief camps, including psychiatric care and trauma counseling. Honorary doctors from the Civil Hospital many visit the camps and organize health camps providing specialist services. Some teams of Govt. doctors may also be posted at the large camps as in the National Urdu School.


Ascertain details of the life and property lost, ensure rehabilitation and compensation


Government must come out with clear statistics and details about the total number of deaths, injuries, properties burnt etc. at the earliest.


The Panchanamas of the houses burnt and property looted in many communities at Gajanandnagar, Sitaram Chawl, Pinjari chawl etc. should be written down at the earliest by law enforcement officials with the involvement and support of social activists and this must lead to appropriate disbursement  of fair and just compensation for the losses incurred at the earliest. While the Govt. has assured us that Panchnamaas are being made, we feel the process must be expedited in the best interests of peace and justice.


It has been the experience that listing always creates problems and the officials must go to the relief camps and hospitals and ensure compensation to every one.


Appropriate Compensation must also be provided to all those who have become disabled. (as per the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, in the case of persons who have suffered permanent injury/ disability).


Education for children must be provided at the camps.


Provocative literature and media mispropaganda to be stopped


We note with deep dismay that despite some concerned citizens, including some who, are part of this fact finding team, having made a written representation to the Superintendent of Police, Mr. Sunil Kolhe, (much before the violence erupted) to remove these posters on the grounds that they were objectionable and had inflammatory statements and were bound to lead to communal frictions, the SP merely said that he would remove ‘one statement’, which is objectionable, which too did not happen properly. Even today, we can see the posters, calling upon Hindus to ‘rise up’ against a certain community.


It’s very clear that the banners and posters erected by the Hindu fundamentalist organizations had very provocative and inflammatory statements instigating the Hindus to ‘rise up and fight’. We recommend that all these sign boards must be urgently removed and any provocative literature being displayed/distributed must be banned. Legal action must be urgently initiated. If necessary, the process of amendment of appropriate laws must also begin.


As mentioned, we have heard from people that biased reporting and CD’s shown in the villages by one or two channels have increased the strife in some areas.  The State must chart an effective media strategy to counter

rumors and play a role in spreading the message of communal harmony. The Press Council of India must ensure that the media does not contribute to the violence in any way, but only performs its role of reporting the facts.


Next Steps:


The communal violence has deeply scarred the peaceful atmosphere of Dhule and it would take quite a while before the town and its villages limps back to normalcy. There is a pressing need for relief materials, including blankets, medicines, clothes etc, for the families at the relief camps. After the preliminary assessment, we hope to reach some relief materials to some camps that require them most. We note with concern and dismay the fact that the visits of the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister have been very limited and did not include camps such as the National Urdu School, where thousands are staying and with very limited relief having been available from the district and state administration.


It would also contribute to peace and communal harmony, if political leaders visit all people affected by violence and not just victims from their own communities. For example, the Sarvajanik Hospital was visited by the Fisheries Minister Mr. Anees Ahmed and another Minister Siddiqqui, while the senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse visited the camps and colonies of the Hindus at Shivajinagar. Strict action as per law must be initiated against anyone who attempts to disrupt the secular fabric of the country.  Many of us, civil society organizations are planning for a Peace March of people of all faiths and communities. We urge the administration to as well actively support and participate in this process and play its constitutional role in ensuring peace and secularism.


Members of the team: Suryavanshi – Senior Advocate, Dhule District, Medha Patkar – National Alliance of People’s Movements, M.B. Shah – Littérateur, J.G. Khairnar – Principal,  Gopinath Landge – Senior Reporter , Prof. Shyam Patil – Narmada Bachao Andolan, Dhule, Avinash Patil – Social Activist, Anti-Superstition Campaign , Vinod – Rashtra Seval Dal, Sandeep Barve – Yuvak Kranti Dal visited the riot – affected areas on 09-10-2008.

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