Post-visit, team blames police
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What started as a squabble for Rs 20 between a restaurant owner and his customer snowballed into a communal riot that left six persons dead, 44 houses burnt and several people injured on January 6 in Dhule, Maharashtra.
A fact-finding committee visited the Macchi Bazaar area where the incidents took place and on Friday released the 'Civil Society's fact Finding Report' in the presence of members of families of the deceased.
The report says, "While the stone pelting was done by members of both the communities, the police action was selective and directed against the Muslims only."
Member of the fact-finding committee and social activist Shabnam Hashmi said the police "allowed" the mob to gather and "did not make any primary efforts to disperse the crowds".
"This violence could have been prevented had the police acted in time.... All bullets were above the knee, majority of the bullets at the waist, many of them in the chest, neck and face. All six deaths were because of the police firing," says the report.
"The burning and looting of Muslim households and shops was done by the Hindu mobs in the presence of the police personnel and killings were done by the police," the report alleges. It also points out that "Fire Brigade was not allowed to come to the Muslim locality to douse the fire."
Besides Hashmi, the team comprised Prof Ram Puniya of All India Secular Forum, Prof Apoorvanand of Delhi University, Nihalsing B Rathod from the Human Rights Law Network and others. They visited Dhule on January 13 and 14.