India: Decades in Convolution

Two Decades Ago


Allow me to introduce you to Madhukar Sarpotdar. On 11 January 1993, when Bombay was reeling after weeks of fatal rioting, an army detachment apprehended Sarpotdar in one of the worst hit areas of the city. He was in a jeep, along with nine other men including his son and someone called Anil Parab. Also in the jeep were several swords, sticks and two guns, one of them unlicensed: at the time, even carrying the licensed one in a riot-hit area was a violation of the law.

The army turned Sarpotdar and his pals over to the police. A huge crowd subsequently gathered outside the station and demanded his release. When the police backed down and let him go, he addressed the crowd and told them not to leave a single Muslim house in the area intact. Muslim residents reported that the policemen who were listening applauded, and made no attempt to stop the crowd from looting and burning several houses. The mob also stabbed several Muslims.

At a press conference held later, a reporter asked the police commissioner if the Anil Parab in the jeep was the hitman of the same name, known to work for Dubai’s infamous terrorist Dawood Ibrahim. The commissioner offered no comment, which was an answer in itself.


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