Police claim acid provoked Dhule firing but not in their FIRs

Two FIRs filed by Dhule police in connection with the January 6 riots make no mention of the acid attack that they have claimed provoked them to open fire, killing six people, all Muslims.

"A mob of 2,000-3,000 Hindus and 3,000-4,000 Muslims were attacking each other. Stones, bricks, iron rods, iron pipes, sticks, glass bottles, tiles, bottles filled with kerosene were liberally used," Dhule deputy SP Monika Raut said in her FIR, filed on January 6.

In her two-page statement in the FIR, accessed by The Indian Express, Raut says that when police carried out a lathicharge, the mob started attacking the police. "After conferring with Senior Police Inspector Mohan Pawar, an order to open fire on both sides was given... Five policemen opened fire," the statement says.

The second FIR, filed by Inspector Deepak Koli, puts the blame directly on the Muslims. "Caught between the two sides, we were requesting to maintain peace. However, the Muslim side marched aggressively towards us. Policemen were injured due to massive stone pelting, they were indulging in arson. Tear gas and lathicharge had no effect. To disperse the mob, we opened fire on both sides," he says in his statement.

Dhule SP Pradeep Deshpande insisted that acid was used to attack the police, but could not explain why the two FIRs did not mention it. "We were in a hurry to file the FIR as the report had to go to our higher officials. There was no attempt to hide or alter any facts," Deshpande said.

State Home Minister R R Patil had taken note of the accusation of acid being used by rioters. During his visit to Dhule after the riots, he said the state would shift battery manufacturing units out of the densely populated areas of the town.

The CID on Saturday arrested 11 people from Dhule for their role in the riots. The Dhule police had arrested one Kishore Wagh on January 7. Six policemen too were arrested after they were found to have been involved in looting a shop during the riots.

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