Thursday, 15 November 2012

Bombay's 27th Feb 2002

From Srikrishna Commission Report

9 Yuvraj Mohite

9.1 He is another journalist working as senior reporter of the Marathi eveninger Mahanagar edited by Nikhil Wagle, and an active social worker of Rashtriya Seva Dal.

9.2 As a part of his reporting duty, he is required to cover the affairs in Bombay Municipal Corporation. He used to regularly visit the headquarters of the Bombay Municipal Corporation and get inputs from several senior officers there and was well–acquainted with the then Mayor Shri Chandrakant Handore.

9.3 On 8th January 1993 at about 1900 hours he had visited the office of the Bombay Municipal Corporation. While was in the office of Bombay Municipal Corporation, he learnt about trouble erupting in the city and, therefore, decided to leave early. Before leaving the Bombay Municipal Corporation office, he peeped into the Mayor’s cabin and the Mayor, Shri Handore, who was sitting alone, invited him to come in. He started a discussion with the Mayor Shri Handore about the riots and what could be done. Shri Handore appeared to be restless and was unsure of what should be done. He was also pained by the violence seen around him. He mooted the idea that the leaders of all parties like Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Muslim leaders should issue a joint appeal to the people to exercise restrain and maintain peace. He had discussed this idea with Chief Minister Shri Naik who welcomed it and asked him to go ahead. He expressed a desire that he should meet the leaders of Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Muslim community and obtain their cooperation in making a joint appeal. Mohite suggested to Shri Handore that instead of making a verbal appeal, it would be better if a memorandum was jointly signed by all the leaders of the different parties and given wide publicity. At the instance of Shri Handore, Mohite prepared one draft in his hand–writing which was finalised with some alterations by Shri Handore. Since it was late in the evening and no typists were available, the final draft of the memorandum was also prepared in hand–writing by Mohite, with a carbon copy. While Mohite was writing out the appeal, Shri Handore telephoned to the offices of different newspapers informing them about what he proposed to do. After the memorandum was completed, Shri Handore took charge of both the original and the carbon copy. He then invited Mohite to accompany him. Mohite thought that it was a good opportunity to get news on sensational matter and agreed to accompany him.

9.4 Handore took his personal assistant and Mohite in his official car and first went to the house of Haji Mastan. After some discussions, the signature of Haji Master was taken on the memorandum of appeal. From there, all of the them went first to the Mayor’s Bungalow at Shivaji Park. Shri Handore instructed the telephone operator to contact the residence of Bal Thackeray and give him information about his arrival to meet Bal Thackeray. He went inside, changed his clothes and came out. Thereafter, all three of them went to the residence of Bal Thackeray. While proceeding, Handore cautioned Mohite that, while in the bungalow of Bal Thackeray, he should not reveal his identity as, if he did so, there might be some problem. He also said that if someone asked him who he was, he should keep quiet and Handore would take care of it.

9.5 Because of the official car in which the party was travelling, there was no difficulty in entering the bungalow of Thackeray. Handore, his P.A. and Mohite were ushered into the room in which Thackeray was sitting. Thackeray was dressed in a saffron shirt and lungi and greeted them with a Jai Maharashtra. All three were made to sit down. The time was around 2130 hours.

9.6 There were discussions between Thackeray and Shri Handore about the riot situation during which Shri Handore was trying to impress upon Thackeray that he should find a way out. In the meanwhile, there were several telephone calls received and answered by Thackeray. From the conversation which could be heard by Mohite, which he has reproduced in extenso in his affidavit, it was clear that Thackeray was directing the Shiv Sainiks, shakha pramukhs and other activists of Shiv Sena to attack the Muslims, to ensure that they give tit–for–tat and ensure that "not a single landya would survive to give oral evidence". He also said that the riots had started from the bastis of "landyas" and that he would deal with them properly and put an end to their arrogance. While this kind of instructions were being given by Thackeray on telephone, Shri Ramesh More and Shri Sarpotdar also came in and reported the situation in their respective areas. They were also given similar instructions. Thackeray also told the vibhag pramukh of Mazgaon, Madhukar Desai, on telephone to ensure that the Bohries residing in Shirin Manzil were not troubled. He also told someone from Jogeshwari to catch hold of A.A. Khan (Additional Commissioner of Police, north region) and send him to "Allah’s home" at once and to finish off "that womanizer" Mundkur, but to take precautions while finishing them off.

9.7 He also told Shri Handore that he should tell the Chief Minister to control all the Muslim mohallahs and confiscate their arms, dismiss Shri Javed Khan and transfer the two scoundrels A.A. Khan and Mundkur and then only he would see what could be done. He also called Shri Vijaysinh Mohite Patil (then a Minister of the State Government) and conveyed his view that Shri Sharad Pawar was behind the riots and because of his encouragement the "landyas" had become bold. He also said that despite his calling up the Chief Minister once, no cognizance had been taken of it and that he would not meet the Chief Minister, but that the Chief Minister may telephone him if he wants.

9.8 Shri Handore then suggested that a meeting could be called at the Mayor’s bungalow where the Chief Minister could be invited and Thackeray could frankly convey what he wanted to say. Shri Thackeray was annoyed with Shri Mohite Patil who was on telephone and told him that he should convey to the Chief Minister that his police were butchering Hindus only, that Khan should be removed from Jogeshwari otherwise he would not be responsible, they could do what they wanted, even put him (Thackeray) behind bars and whatever was to happen, may happen once for all. Thackeray put down the receiver and told Shri Handore that not a single person was in his senses, and criticised the kind of administration those ‘rascals’ were running. Thackeray said that Shri Pawar had sent military which was moving with white rags on their vehicles and Shri Handore may tell them to take his dhoti as well.

9.9 While all this talk was going on, Mohite was clandestinely making notes about what he had heard. Initially, he was making the notes openly, but later when he found that Shri Sarpotdar kept looking at him, he carried on his noting down surreptitiously. In the meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray came into the room carrying a child, noticed that Mohite was scribbling something and asked him not to write anything. Thackeray asked Mohite his name, which he disclosed. When he asked him whether he was related to Vijaysinh Mohite–Patil, Mohite turned to Shri Handore and Shri Handore hastily replied that Mohite was with him.

9.10 On the appeal of Shri Handore to maintain peace, Thackeray was inclined to sign the memorandum, but when he saw that the memorandum bore the signature of Haji Mastan he got annoyed that Shri Handore had approached Haji Mastan (‘landya’) and cautioned him that they had no alternative except the Shiv Sena. Then Thackeray read the memorandum and told Shri Handore point–blank that he would not make any such appeal for peace, but would rather wait and watch the Government policy for the next four or five days after which he would take a decision. He said he would merely sign in token of receiving the memorandum and signed it.

9.11 The memorandum signed by Thackeray was taken by Shri Handore and Shri Handore and Mohite left that place. Thackeray, Shri Sarpotdar and Shri More came to see them off. While travelling in the car, Mohite made hasty notes from memory of what he could not note down after he was told to stop writing. Shri Handore told him to forget whatever he had heard. Shri Mohite insisted that he would tell his editor, Nikhil Wagle, about what he had heard. Shri Handore replied that it would be better for both to forget it, as otherwise both would be in difficulty.

9.12 Shri Handore thereafter dropped Mohite near his office at Mahim at about 2315 hours. The editor, Nikhil Wagle, was not in his office. He came to the office around 0200 hours along with other colleagues. Mohite narrated the entire incident in detail and was advised by Nikhil Wagle and his colleagues that they should approach the Chief Minister at once. Mohite telephoned to Shri Handore and talked to him about the suggestion made by his editor and other colleagues, but Shri Handore was not ready to go to the Chief minister and said that he would not be responsible for whatever might happen. Thereafter Nikhil Wagle talked to Shri Handore on phone, but Shri Handore declined to go by saying that it was his mistake that he took Mohite to the house of Thackeray. Nikhil Wagle then telephoned the Minister of State for Home, Shri Babanrao Pachpute, and apprised him of what he had learnt. Shri Pachpute replied that it was serious and he would take urgent steps.

9.13 Mohite produced at Exh. 3412(C) the first draft he had made of the notes taken down by him, at Exh.3413(C) a second draft when it was tentatively decided that he should file an affidavit before the Commission. The first draft was prepared by the first week of February 1993. He thereafter prepared the second draft and gave the Marathi material contained in Exh.3413(C) for translation to Prabha Desai, a lecturer in Patkar College, Goregaon, somewhere towards the end of February 1993. She returned the translation to him after about two months. Thereafter he gave the entire matter to advocate Shri M.P. Vashi for preparing an affidavit to be filed before this Commission. The affidavit was prepared only sometime in October 1993, though the papers were lying with Shri Vashi from or about April 1993. By that time, the deadline given by the Commission for filing affidavits had expired and Mohite did nothing in the matter. However, when the Commission extended the time for filing affidavit, he went back to Shri Vashi, obtained the affidavit, and filed it before the Commission.

9.14 Predictably, this witness has been subjected to lengthy and pointed cross–examination to challenge the veracity of his testimony. Though numerous details have been elicited from him with regard to the topography of the Matoshri building (residence of Thackeray), as it stood before renovation and details of Mohite’s career as a journalist, there is very little cross–examination with regard to the crucial contents of his affidavit. Apart from a suggestion that Mohite had given false evidence against Thackeray at the instance of his Editor, Nikhil Wagle, because of bad blood between Wagle and Thackeray, there is hardly any material in the cross–examination brought forth to discredit the testimony of this witness.

9.15 That Shri Chandrakant Handore had met Bal Thackeray in his residence at Matoshri bungalow is corroborated by the entry in the Central Zone Police Wireless Log Book at 2127 hours on 8th January 1993. The Senior Police Inspector Kherwadi’s mobile gave a message to Control Room "Mayor Handore had come to meet Balasaheb. There is no problem".

9.16 There is further corroboration of the probability of the truth of Mohite’s testimony in the documents produced by him. The drafts at Exh.3413(C) and Exh.3414(C) bring out in graphic detail the conversation being carried on by Thackeray with the others on the telephone within the hearing of Mohite. Mahanagar had carried an editorial in its issue dated 6th April 1993 in which it was said that the conduct of Shri Handore as Mayor was shameful. It was also said that on 8th January 1993 in the evening Shri Handore had gone to Shiv Sena Pramukh Balasaheb Thackeray’s residence for taking his signature on the appeal for peace at which time Thackeray was busy in whipping up the riots; there were telephones from various Shakhas and Thackeray was giving instructions for attack on Muslims; all this was being listened to by Shri Handore like an idiot without any attempt to stop Thackeray; on the contrary, Thackeray took Handore to task and that also, Handore accepted with a sheepish grin. All this came to light because Shri Handore did the ‘stupidity’ (‘gadhavpana’, a word actually used by Shri Handore) of taking Mohite for the meeting with Thackeray. The editorial also said that the full details of the incident would be published in Mahanagar issue at the appropriate time. Apparently, Shri Handore was annoyed with the disclosure of these crucial facts about his activity and because of that he threatened witness Mohite. In a news item published in Mahanagar dated 7th April 1993 the fact about threat to Mohite was also published (Exh.3415–C).

9.17 The Commission had issued a notice under section 8B of the Act to Bal Thackeray on 9th December 1996 which was served on him on the same day. No reply to the notice was filed by Bal Thackeray. When the evidence of witness Mohite was taken up on 22nd June 1997 an application vide Exh.3401–SS was made by Shiv Sena objecting to the examination of Mohite, and in the alternative, seeking six weeks’ time on the ground that as several allegations had been made against Bal Thackeray and instructions were to be obtained from him. Presumably, after obtaining appropriate instructions, this witness was extensively cross–examined by Shri Adhik Shirodkar on the next date of hearing. There is no contrary evidence adduced by Shiv Sena or Bal Thackeray. The Commission sees no reason for not accepting the testimony of this witness.

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