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Farooque Mapkar - Story of a lone fighter

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     Farooque Ahmed Mapkar

He was shot, jailed, charged with rioting, declared absconder but Farooque Ahmed Mohammed Kasim Mapkar never gave up and finally he got last week what he had been fighting for since 1993 – a ray of hope for justice in Hari Masjid police firing case during Bombay riots.

The Supreme Court on 30th July 2010 upheld the Bombay High Court order for CBI enquiry into the Hari Masjid firing case, in which six persons were killed and many injured. The apex court also dismissed the Maharashtra government appeal against the High Court’s 2008 directive for a CBI enquiry into the case. The federal investigation team is already probing the case. The Supreme Court has given it 6 months time to file its report.

Farooque Mapkar was shot in his back while rescuing an injured person in Hari Masjid, situated in Mumbai, but he was charged for unlawful assembly and rioting in the mosque. He fought the case for 16 years and finally pronounced innocent by the sessions court on 18th February 2009.

Relieved by the decision Farooque Mapkar, who had filed an FIR against an assistant police inspector Nikhil Kapse for firing in Hari Masjid, termed it as a “New Beginning” and expressed apprehension that, “Bringing back all the witnesses again will be a complicated job.” But he is determined to do it. He said “Justice must be done at any cost and guilty must be punished.”

The Srikrishna Commission set up to look into the Bombay riots cases had held Kapse "guilty of unjustified firing" and "inhuman brutal behaviour".

A peon in Kokan Mercantile Bank, Farooque Mapkar’s story reflects the condition of Muslims in India who not only bear physical and monitory losses during riots but also get booked under the false cases. The long time commission of enquiries takes in formulating their reports and the government's apathy to implement their recommendations is another black side of the gory picture.

But in this over all gloomy scenario the case of Farooque Mapkar gives some hope. He fought back every time he lost and fought more strongly. His zeal of activism never let him rest. He recollects that he was an activist when he was young, “I participated in the agitation against Salman Rushdie’s book in 1983 where police had fired at the crowd and many were killed but I escaped unhurt.”
His enthusiasm never waned. An SSC failed, Mapkar’s another passion is to lend a helping hand to the victims of atrocities who are falsely arrested. He advises them on the legal front, helps in finding good lawyers and legal aids and sometimes volunteers himself as a guarantor where no activist ever will try to get involved.

Remembering the riots of Gujarat in 2002, he explained, “I reached Ahmadabad very next day of the riots. It was a horrible journey that reminded me the riots of Mumbai. I was alone there in the night, fearing for life. On the street of Ahmadabad I had witnessed the brutality very closely but only for a day and I had to return because there was no one I knew. When I boarded the train for Mumbai there were very few people.”

When asked what happened in Hari Masjid, he recalled the incident and stated, “In the afternoon of 10th January 1993, around 12.40 p.m. I went for Zuhar Prayer in Hari Masjid which was near my home. Sub Inspector Nikhil Kapse, along with his team, came and started firing indiscriminately into Hari Masjid that killed 6 and injured 7 Musallis.” Whereas Police claimed that there was a firing from inside the mosque, Mapkar said: “Forget firing there was not a slightest of provocation and that is why court has acquitted all of us.”

He continued, “There was a panic among Namazis, some went to toilet and some got refuge in the Imam’s room. We were near the place where Imam leads the Prayer and saw a young man got injured with the bullet. I went to rescue him and suddenly a bullet hit me in the back. There was blood all over and everyone was shocked. We heard a CRPF man who was saying inspector Nikhil Kapse to stop firing.

Farooque said, “When firing stopped an injured man called Shamshuddin came out from Imam’s room with a bullet injury on his leg, Sub Inspector, Nikhil Kapse, saw him and shot a bullet in his chest. We all got frightened and then they took 15 of us to R.A. Kidwai Marg Police Station. A mob was already present there in front of the Police Station and was shouting “Jisko chahiye Pakistan usko bhejo kabrastan (Those who want to go Pakistan, send them to graveyard).”

He added, “Police personnel recorded our name and address. They took four of us, who were injured, to the KEM Hospital but a mob of people started following us there and abused us. I refused to be treated there and then taken to the lockup. Finally I got bail on 25th January 1993 and on 27th I got the bullet removed at Blue Cross Nursing Home, Byculla.”

But misery never ended for Farooque Mapkar. His case started in the session court in Sewri and then in CST. He appeared there for 16 Years. He evoked an incident that took place during the trial. Police brought a witness Shravan Killari who, according to police, was injured in the firing by Muslims. But Shravan Killari refused and alleged that he was injured by Police Firing.

Farooque also complained about the state government, “When Srikrishna Commission was formed the government said that it will be difficult for them to bring the witnesses due to lapse of time but they brought four new witnesses against me in 2007.”

“Congress-led state government that came to power with the promise of implementing Srikrishna Commission Report is going against its recommendations that found Nikhil Kapse guilty” said Farooque Mapkar. He further demanded, “Now Congress-NCP government must help us in CBI enquiry and should not protect the guilty.”

As forwarded to us by Br. Abdulhamid Haju. Also available on http://www.twocircles.net/2010aug07/farooque_mapkar_story_lone_fighter.html

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