Director: Madhusree Dutta
Duration: 00:25:55; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 35.293; Saturation: 0.042; Lightness: 0.354; Volume: 0.033; Cuts per Minute: 7.753; Words per Minute: 19.440
Summary: This is a collection of shots from the rushes of 'I live in Behrampada', a documentary on a Muslim ghetto in the context of the Bombay riots, an aftermath of the Babari Masjid demolition. I was 8 years old during the Bombay '92-93 riots. My only memory of the time was an unscheduled two-month holiday from school, though the adult talk about stray dead bodies and destruction remains stored in some corner. Later various other incidents of violent identity politics and representations of the Bombay riots in films etc. made a constant a reference point. Going through the rushes after 15 years has also been a process of coming to terms with my own city and its black holes.
The documents signal to the popular sentiment and the street culture of that time. What the newspapers were writing, what were the writings on the wall, who were the people killed by the police, what were the foregrounded images of the city…. The images raise many more questions than they answer.
This map was hung in the room of Madhukar Zende, the Inspector in charge of Nirmal Nagar Police Station. The area consists of the mixed neghbourhoods and govt. offices, starting from Bandra station to Kherwadi, on the west side of the Western Express Highway. The Behrampada slum and the adjacent Hindu colonies(MIG, LIG and Railway) come under the jurisdiction of Nirmal Nagar police station. The map shows the religious institutions (temple 25, masjids 12 and Gurudwara 2, Buddhavihar 2 etc.), social institutions such as schools, colleges, clubs, pandals /mandals – public bodies who organize public celebrations of social/religious occasions. Contrary of the popular belief of that time that the area was dominated by the assertion of Islamic fundamentalists, the map shows 25 temples and 12 masjids. Though due to the dense population at the Muslim majority Behrampada, the Muslim population is more than that of the Hindus in this area.
Jurisdiction of Nirmal Nagar Plice Station.
Nirmal Nagar police station
Bandra Kurla complex
Map of Bombay to the scale. Only line drawing with marking of major locations. The Bandra east area is marked in detail. It shows the market pressure that the area was under during the riots of 1992-93. Next to Behrampada were the under construction Bandra Terminus, proposed Diamond market and growing Bandra Kurla complex. When we write this text the Bandra terminus has become a prime transport hub and the Bandra Kurla complex, popularly called BKC, has become a business district of a monstrous size. Behrampada has shrunk in order to make space for the terminus. But they are still hanging from the cliff and have not got completely erased. Though the rentals and the prices of the shanties have grown almost 500 times. This phenomena can be connected with the increasing demand of menial work in BKC. But the reason that Behrampada still exists on the map can be several. Primary among them are Behrampada's political clout in electoral politics and the opening of the land belonging to closed textile mills for commercial purposes which reduced the immediate pressure on the Bandra east area.
A special magistrate's court in Mumbai court has convicted senior Shiv Sena leader Madhukar Sarpotdar and two others in a 1993 Mumbai riots case.
Magistrate RC Bapat Sarkar has convicted Sarpotdar along with two Shiv Sena activists -Ashok Shinde and Jaywant Parad - for making inflammatory speeches and causing enmity between religious groups during the riots. Sarpotdar was later granted bail by the court.
He has been sentenced to one-year imprisonment and fined Rs 5,000.
"I will not comment on the court's judgement. It has to be honoured. It was not a political procession but a religious one. My party will stand by me. I will appeal against the judgement," Sarpotdar told CNN-IBN.
On Friday, a key witness in the case had identified Sarpotdar as the person who gave a provocative speech on December 27, 1992, near a Ganesh Temple in Bandra.
However, the sentence for all three convict including Sarpotdar has been suspended till August 16 on an application filed by the defence lawyer. They will now approach the Sessions Court against the conviction.
Other co-accused Umesh Pawar, Shantaram Sarvantar and Pradeep Khanvilkar were acquitted due to lack of evidence.
(CNN-IBN, July 09, 2008)
Sorpotdar officially got convicted after 15 years.
a) On the night of 1st February 1993, as the rest of the city had restored some kind of resemblance of peace, the huts in Behrampada went on flame. 65 huts got destroyed in the fire which the Behrampada residents believed was caused by the fireballs thrown from the terraces of the adjacent buildings where the Hindu middle class people resided. Ofcourse there were no arrest made by the police. Ironically a Hindu temple in the vicinity too caught fire, though the attack was meant to harm the people of Muslim religion. Abbas, a Muslim boy in Behrampada along with others climbed on to the roof of the temple to douse the fire. Maybe the act was prompted by a respect for a religious institution or maybe it was only to prevent the fire from spreading. But the rescuers were fired upon – again from the terraces of the adjacent building. Whether the bullet was fired by the Hindu cadres or by the partisan police never got cleared. Abbas died of bullet injury. Some others got injured.
b) The Shivsena leader Madhukar Sarpotadar was the local MLA for the Bandra east constituency. In the right wing chauvinist party of Shivsena he grew from the henchman to the elected representative. The area was also known for the residence of the Shivsena supremo Bal Thackrey. Inspite of being the birth place of Shivsena the area has never voted for the Shivsena. Till 1993, infact till even 2008 – the time of uploading this material, Shivsena never won the Loksabha (parliament) election. They blamed the many slums in the area which were densely populated by Muslim majority for their ill fate in election. But the Shivsena fared better in assembly election as that comprised of a much smaller constituency of Bandra east mainly structured around various Marathi Hindu middle class colnies (Kalanagar – art colony, Sahitya Sahawas – commune of literati, MIG –middle income group, LIG – lower income group. Govt, colony etc.) and thus Madhukar Sarpotdar got elected as MLA. Sarpotadar led many attacks on Muslim slums, Muslim owned commercial establishments and Muslim commuters on the road during the riots of 1992-93. The partisan police force of the Nirmal Nagar police station looked the other way and even facilitated his (mis)adventures at times. But after much harm was caused, under tremendous public pressure the Govt. deployed army to bring peace in the city. The understanding was since the army is not a local outfit they would not be party to local politics and politickings. The army arrested Sarpotdar, the elected member of legislative assembly, for carrying illegal fire arms.
c) The headlines are self explainatory. While the whole country and specially Bombay was reeling under the violence unleashed by the Hindu fundamentalist mobs, Shivsena mouthpiece and some other Marathi papers systematically campaigned against Behrampada, the Muslim majority slum. While other papers write 'the Babri Masjid is Demolished', Samna writes ''Enraged Hindu Ocean has taken over the Ramjanmabhoomi'. Unfortunately Samna is a popular newspaper as it is adrenalin driven and is also cheap in price.
a) Death of a Martyr.
b) Sarpotdar Held Under NSA.
d) Collage of front page of the leading newpaper during the riots. Samnaa, the mouthpiece of Shivsena: (in Marathi) 'Enraged Hindu Ocean has taken over the Ramjanmabhoomi'.
Times of India: Kar Sevaks Destroy Babri Masjid. Maharashtra Times: (in Marathi) 220 victims of countywide violence, 46 killed in Mumbai.
Indian Express: 220 Killed as Babri riots rock nation. The Independent: The Continent of Failed Hope. Maharashtra Times: (in Marathi) Toll 760, 145 killed in Mumbai. Mixed response to Bandh.
Other: Bullets and Bigotry (photo of people with designer's hair style with 'Ram' inscribed on heads).
Samnaa (in Marathi): Two more dead bodies found in Behrampada!
The Daily: Fragile Peace Shattered in Behrampada. Other: (in Marathi): Pakisthani involvement in Behrampada riot.
The Afternoon: Fresh Rioting claims six in Behrampada.
Samna (in Marathi): (Be)harampada bomb company limited.
Other: Why Behrampada is a hot shot.
Navbharat Times: (in Hindi) Inspite of the army and police alertness / Incidents of fire and violence increase in Bombay.
Other: Under the shadow of death.
Mid Day: Violence Unabated.
Times of India: Ten Days that Shook Bombay.
Times of India: Riot tolls mount to 500.
The Independent: 22 more killed in city riots.
Nirmal Nagar police station
high rise buildings
low rise slum
member of the legislative assembly
times of India
Photos collected from several news photographers. The photos were collected during the making of 'I Live in Behrampada'. As at that time it was highly risky to be involved in making a film on behalf of the residents of Behrampada, the photographers requested anonymity. Hence the sources are not mentioned here.
1. A group of Army point guns to an old multi-storied building on the other side of the road.
I live in Behrampada
long distance train
2. Black smoke comes out of a ruin – which looks like a godown. Stationery cabs in the front and a highrise building at the back forms a back drop to the smoke.
3. Burnt taxis in front of a row of shanties.
4. A burnt shanty. A high rise building is seen in the background behind a compound wall. This photo is taken on 2nd February 1993 at Behrampada. 65 shanties were burnt by an intentional fire on the night of 1st February. The building at the back is Gulmohar building in the MIG colony.
5. A person, dead or severely injured, being carried in what looks like an ambulance by the policemen. The police uniform and the gun are visible.
6. Burnt cars in the foreground and thick smoke coming out of some huge fire in the background. The source of the smoke must have been some large scale destruction. During the riots large volume of timber stocks belonging to Muslims at Mahim were burnt.
7. A group of policemen in front a residential area in the South Bombay (can be identified by the old style architecture of the neighbourhood).
8. A man holding a white flag converse with the policemen. Why does a white flag needed to converse with the policemen?
9. An old woman with a cloth bundle and a plastic bag – looks like someone on the run with all her movable belongings and an army man with gun and walkie talkie. The shutters of the shops in the background are shut, the road completely deserted, windows of the houses closed. Looks like a curfew time. The woman is asking for shelter? For direction? Why is she out on the street during the curfew? Has she approached the army man? Or has the army man caught her?
10. People fleeing Bombay. Over crowded long distance train in Bombay Central station.
11. Bombay central station foyer. Large crowd waiting to flee – they feel safer in the public place of the station than in their familiar homes and neighbourhoods.
12. Large crowd at the foyer of the VT station. The train services too were disrupted. But the large crowd preferred to wait at the station inspite of all the uncertainties than going back to their homes in the city. The point to note is that almost nobody is carrying any identifiable Muslim look – such as beard or burqa. In normal days there would more people sporting beard or burqa on the street of Bombay.
13. Shot of the back of a policeman with a gun hanging from his shoulder in the foreground and an old Muslim man with white beard and checked lungi squat against a wall in the background. Is he pleading? Is he scared of the policeman? Or does he feel secured in presence of the police?
14. Top angle shot of uniformed firemen in the middle of a burnt to cinders interior. Some severely burnt objects vaguely resemble furnitures. The roof has completely disappeared. Was it a shanty with non-concrete roof? Has the bomb or the fire ball came from top – thrown from a height of some building in the vicinity? The story seems familiar. (Please see other events on Behrampada in this site).
15. Police and civilians carry a rotten dead body – looks like the body is digged out of a gutter.
Studio photos of people, mainly women and children, of Behrampada who were injured or killed in firing by Police and /or Shivsena cadres. Some of these photos were taken in a neighbourhood photo studio as per the requirement for the compensation claim.
1. of brother (5 yrs) and sister (9yrs). They were injured in the firing after the Friday namaaz on 15th January 1993.
2. Shot of a woman with her infant. She too was injured on 15th January firing.
3. The brother of photo no. 1.
4. The sister of photo no. 1 with open back to document the wound.
The police's reasoning for the firing was that the assembled namaazis were about to launch an attack on the Hindu colonies from the masjid and the police had to open firing on them in self defense. But the women and children, who got injured in this incident, are not allowed to take part in the public namaaz of Friday afternoon.
5. Neelam Bano – passport size photo. She died in direct police firing as she and her friends tried to argue with the police at the boundary of the slum.
6. Middle aged woman in hospital bed.
7. Unidentified man (passport size photo)
8. Teenage boy with steel rod fixture on the thigh. Another victim of the police firing of 15th January.
Old passport size photos, must have been taken for some utility reason such as photo identity or ration card, are the only documents available of these people.
a) A passport size photo of elderly Khudaey Khan who died on 15th January, 1993. On that day the police and the Shivsena cadres encircled Behrampada from four sides and attacked them soon after the Friday (jumma) afternoon namaaz. They positioned themselves on top of the apartment buildings and on the Railway overbridge. Since Behrampada was a low rise settlement it was easy to aim at them from the vantage position of the high rises. 15 people died on that day.
b) Bakery is popular trade-occupation among the Muslims in Bombay. Many Bakeries were burnt down by the Hindu mobs during the 1992-93 riots. Famous among them was Suleiman Bakery in Nagpada where 11 people were killed by police firing from close range. The then DCP R D Tyagi was implicated for that case (for more detail see Shrikrishna Commission Report – www.hvk.org/specialrepo/skc/skcch1.html
) This young man Tasleem too had a small bakery in a market little away from Behrampada. The Muslims of the area faced a huge economic loss as they could not get out of Behrampada to attend to their trades or resume their jobs for close to two months. Tasleem could not take the agony any longer and went to see his bakery in the neighbouring colony - only to be killed on his way back.
c) Neelam Bano was the most unlikely victims of communal riots or of police atrocity in the situation of urban violence. It is generally the young boys who get beaten up and killed and the young girls become victims of sexual crime and/or get killed. This middle aged woman got killed as she and her friends tried to prevent the police from entering the settlement. Their action must have been provoked by the police's partisan role towards the Hindu right wing party Shivsena. But this incident is also an example of how the women are traditionally used as barricades by the more active and strategist members, mostly male, of the society. This kind of strategies are drawn with the general belief that women and children will not be shot at. But the recent developments in politics and history of social violence have proved that such strategies are no more effective. Infact today such strategies only make women more vulnerable.
d) The attack on the Jumma namazis was one of the most heinous crimes during the Bombay riots. This 18 years old boy used work as daily wager in painting of houses.
a) This is Khudaey Khan uncle. He got shot at on Friday. After the afternoon namaz he came home. His home is two storied and he was climbing up, saying – I am going to rest. As he was climbing the steps he was hit by the bullet at the back. The bullet came from behind the Gulmohar building and he died instantly.
b) This boy is called Tasleem. On December 20th when he was coming back from Jawahar Nagar he was stabbed. He was coming back after checking on his bakery and on the way back he was stabbed. It was on December 29th.
c) Her name is Neelam Bano, Neelam Imtiaz Bano.She was around 45 years old. She dies of police firing… she tried to stop the police from entering our neighbourhood by getting together a group of women…. They stood on the road and the police without showing any mercy pumped three bullets into her. As a result she fell into the gutter and after 10 minutes her body was pulled out of the gutter. Till then the police did not let us touch her body and as soon as the body was pulled out they took her away.
d) Name of this boy is Mohd. Mustafa. He too was shot on 15th January when he was coming back after the Jumma namaz. In police firing he was hit at the neck and he died due to that injury.
R D Tyagi
Shrikrishna Commission report
high rise building
low rise settlement
passport size photo
Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad
6th December 1992
Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad
Ayodhya municipal corporation
Babri masjid action committee
Bhartiya janata party
L K Advani
Ram charit manas
Viswa Hindu Parishad
a) Shivsena logo
b) (in Marathi)What discussion what evidence / there is only one answer – March to Ayodhya, 6th January, ABVP.
c) No begging, It's a battle now / On to war to finish! March to Ayodhya, 6th December, AVBP
d) We vow on the name of Ram / We shall make the temple at that site. March to Ayodhya, 6th December. AVBP
a) Wall of the Kalanagar (art colony), the resident of Shivsena supremo Bal Tackrey, compound. The colony is half a kilometer away from Behrampada. The heavily guarded entrance of the colony is adorned with the image of the ferocious tiger in red – the logo of Shivsena. Light and lazy or maybe extra cautious traffic pass by.
b) ABVP – Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party). An open call to march to Ayodhya on 6th December 1992 which would eventually demolish the 400 years old Babri masjid and change the social fabric of India forever. The Hindu chauvinists claimed that the mythic character Ram was born at the site of the masjid. As the argument about the feasibility of a mythic character being born in an earthly place instead of in abstraction of heaven gained popularity, they rendered call to give up all reasoning and embark on mindless communal violence in the name of belief in divinity.
c) A direct call to violence of the majoritarianism. As they say, the writing on the wall was clear. Yet our Govt., claimed to have been caught unaware when the Masjid actually got demolished and then followed by a countrywide carnage against the Muslims.
d) Taking vow on the name of Ram – was a very common tactic to provoke popular emotion in those days. To counter this slogan the secular minded group came up with 'Jis Mandir Mein Khun Bahega / Usme Kya Ram Rahega' (Will Ram reside in the temple / where so much blood would be shed).
Babri Masjid was a Jaunpuri architecture made in 1528. Here is dateline sourced from the independent 'geocities.com'
"5,000 to 800,000
According to Hindu belief, sometime in ancient antiquity, their god/king Sri Rama, an Aryan prince and main character of the epic poem Ramayana, is born. No ancient accounts associate Sri Rama's birth to modern Ayodhya, India.
Indus Valley civilization (pre-Aryan) flourishes in Indus basin.
Aryans invade India, Dravidian civilization of Indus valley destroyed.
Aryan culture takes shape in Gangetic plains of North India. Rise of caste system, Vedic literature flourishes, no mention of Rama.
Valmiki writes Sanskrit Ramayana with Rama as an ideal human hero, embodiment of chivalry, loyalty, patience and justice.
Babar invades India, no historical evidence of him ever being in Ayodhya.
Mir Baqi, a Mughal governor, builds the Mosque in honor of Babar. No account of destruction of any Hindu temple or association of Rama with the site in all Medieval literature.
Tulsi Das writes popular Hindi version of Ramayana, Ram Charit Manas. Sri Ram is raised to the status of full deity, an Avatar (incarnation) of Hindu God Vishnu. Tulsi Das never mentions association of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya with Ram-Janambhoomi.
Raj Chaturman in his Chahar Gulshan (Four Gardens) first mentions of modern Ayodhya as a possible place of Sri Rama's birth, but no association of Babri Masjid with it.
Jesuit priest Joseph Tieffenthaler suggests the birth of Rama is believed to be in the vicinity of the Masjid. First mention of Masjid as possible place of birth, offers no reference or evidence. Several places in Ayodhya claimed to be Rama's place of birth.
Dec. 22, 1949
A statute of Sri Rama appears in the Mosque at night. Hindus call it a miracle. Report to police by the Mu'adhadhin. The Masjid is declared by the District Magistrate as a disputed property and is closed to Muslims.
Jan. 5, 1950
According to 145 Criminal Procedure code, the Magistrate K.K. Nair 'attaches' the Masjid, locking the doors and appointing Ayodhya Municipal Corporation as a 'Receiver.' Nair (a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) sympathizer and later MP on the Jan Sangh ticket) gives Hindus permission to worship and take care of their deity. Muslims forbidden to get closer than 300 yards to their own Masjid.
Feb. 1, 1986
Acting on the petition of U.C. Pandey, on behalf of Hindus to be able to perform public worship, Mr. K.M. Pandey the district judge, on recommendation of Mr. T. K. Pandey, the District Magistrate, grants Hindus the permission for general worship (without regard to the Muslims opinion). In full glare of media and publicity the Masjid is handed over to Hindus. Proceedings televised to mobilize Hindu public opinion in favor of Congress government. It is rumored that Rajiv Gandhi backed the action to win back Hindu support for Congress. Conflicts flare between Muslims and Hindus. Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) formed to claim Masjid back through legal process. Long arduous legal and political battles ensue.
Nov. 11, 1986
The Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) - Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) coalition lays foundation stone (Shilanyas) for temple on adjoining land claimed by Muslims as part of Waqf (Islamic trust). Bloody 'Rath Yatra' fuels hatred, incites anti-Muslim sentiments and provokes wide spread riots claiming 2000 lives. Dispute is pending before the High Court and the Supreme Court, both want status quo. Muslims declare their willingness to accept the decision of the highest court of India.
Oct. 7 1991
BJP government of Uttar Pradesh (UP) expropriates 2.77 acres of Muslim waqf land adjoining the Masjid and starts construction. Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, ignores many directives of the Supreme Court to stop the work.
July 23, 1992
Prime Minister comes to agreement with Sadhus (Hindu holy men) to stop construction to enable him to find a solution. Chief Minister of UP assures status quo and protection of Masjid.
Nov. 28, 1992
L. K. Advani, the BJP leader, asserts that work on construction of temple would continue irrespective of Supreme Court decision.
Dec. 6, 1992
BJP, VHP, and RSS decide for Kar Seva, 300,000 holy men and volunteers gather for Kar Seva. Police do not intervene. Babri Masjid, a place of Muslim Worship and a monument of history destroyed brick by brick".