Although numerous riots have occurred in the City of Mumbai, India (Bombay) since Independence, the Bombay Riots usually refers to the riots in Mumbai, in December 1992 and January 1993, in which 900 people died. This was followed by the 12 March 1993 Bombay Bombings, allegedly orchestrated by ganglord Dawood Ibrahim and his D-Company syndicate, in which 250 people died.
The riots started as a result of communal tension prevailing in the city after the Babri Mosque demolition on 6 December 1992. It is commonly believed that the riots occurred in two phases. The first was mainly a Muslim backlash as a result of the Babri Masjid demolition in the week immediately succeeding 6 December 1992 by Hindu nationalists in the city of Ayodhya.
The second phase was a Hindu backlash occurring as a result of the killings of Hindu Mathadi Kamgar (Workers) by Muslims in Dongri (an area of South Mumbai). This phase occurred in January 1993 (most incidents reported between 6 January to 20 January).
Overall around 900 people were killed in these riots. Arson, killings and the destruction of property occurred in distinctively different kinds of areas. The areas of Pydhonie, Dongri, Agripada, Gamdevi, V.P.Road, Byculla, Bhoiwada, Nagpada, Kherwadi, Nehru Nagar, Dharavi, Ghatkopar, Kurla, Deonar, Trombay, Bandra, Vakola and Jogeshwari were largely affected amongst others. Violence affected not only slums but also apartment blocks and chawls.
As a direct result of the riots a large number of Hindus migrated from Muslim majority areas to Hindu majority areas in the city and vice versa. The demographics of the city changed drastically on religious basis. Reports widely indicate more than 200,000 people (both Hindus and Muslims) fled the city or their homes during the time of the riots. A large number of them relocated back due to economic compulsions. However separation and mistrust between the people on religious grounds was widely believed and reported until more than a year after the riots.
The Mili Gazette an urdu eveninger says that according to Shrikant Bapat, the then Police Commissioner of Bombay said that the first phase of the riots started near Kadaria Masjid in Dharavi when incident of stone pelting was reported while a “Victory” cycle rally was taken out on the evening of December 6
Justice Srikrishna, then a relatively junior Judge of the Bombay High Court, accepted the task of investigating the causes of the riots, something that many of his colleagues had turned down. For five years till 1998, he examined victims, witnesses and alleged perpetrators. Detractors came initially from left-secular quarters who were wary of a judge who was a devout and practicing Hindu. The Commission was disbanded by the Shiv Sena led government in January 1996 and on public opposition was later reconstituted on 28 May 1996; though when it was reconstituted, its terms of reference were extended to include the Mumbai bomb blasts that followed in March 1993.
The report of the commission stated that the tolerant and secular foundations of the city were holding even if a little shakily. Justice Srikrishna indicted those he alleged as largely responsible for the second phase of the bloodshed and to some extent, the first—the Shiv Sena.
The report was criticized as “politically motivated”. For a while, its contents were a closely guarded secret and no copies were available. The Shiv Sena-government rejected its recommendations. Since under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, an Inquiry is not a court of law (even if it conducts proceedings like a court of law) and the report of an inquiry is not binding on Governments, Srikrishna’s recommendations cannot be directly enforced. Till date, the recommendations of the Commission have neither been accepted nor acted upon by the Maharashtra Government. Many indicted policemen were promoted by the government and indicted politicians continue to hold high political office even today.