Post Babri demolition, the riots broke out in Mumbai in two phases: December 1992 and January 1993.
Mumbai: For Mumbai, the Babri Masjid demolition on December 6, 1992 was not just a crime happening in the distant town of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. The incident also triggered a chain of violent reactions in the country's financial capital, creating not just a communal devide, but also jeopardising information collection for the Mumbai police, which relied heavily on its Muslim khabaris.
Post Babri demolition, the riots broke out in Mumbai in two phases: December 1992 and January 1993. The violence culminated into the serial blasts that rocked 13 places on March 12, 1993, killing at least 257.
Former police officers recollect how the post-Babri violence changed a peaceful metropolis forever. A retired senior IPS officer describes how security during the 10-day-long Ganeshotsav changed from controlling traffic to maintaining security and communal harmony. He also adds that the riots made police presence inevitable outside mosques for Friday prayers.
The aftermath also ended up dividing the Mumbai underworld on religious lines, recollects former IPS officer P.S. Pasricha, who won accolades for working towards community building in the aftermath of the violence.
“Police took ‘street corner meetings’ with community leaders. However, the serial blasts took place later. All the gains were lost due to the explosions. The mafia, too, got divided on religious lines with Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan separating. The morale of the police was down,” recounts former police commissioner Mr Pasricha.
On March 12, 1993, two months after the Babri demolion, Mumbai was rocked by serial blasts, carried out by Tiger Memon at the behest of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
The main conspirators held several meetings in Mumbai and Raigad districts, which involved over hundred people. However, the Mumbai police did not get even whiff of the conspiracy.
Muslim community was convinced that the police was partisan and targeted Muslims during the two phases of riots in December 1992 and January 1993. This led to the complete collapse of police's informants network.
The violence also led to large-scale displacement of people, as several people were forced to take refuge elsewhere. "This was the onset of ghettoisation of minorities as both (Hindu and Muslim) communities started having their residential areas. This made the divide visible," says Shahid Latif, editor of Inquilaab, an Urdu daily.
The Ansurkar family, which stayed at Mahim, one of the worst hit areas where several Hindus and Muslims were zeroed in and targeted.
A person close to Ansurkar family recalls how the family fled their Mahim home and stayed at a hotel for over a month. After scouting for a safe haven, they found a new residence through a advertisement offering a flat in Borivali. They took a conscious call of staying in a Hindu-dominated area, unlike Mahim.
"The sellers were another tragedy-hit family in which two children had lost their banker mother in the serial blasts. While coming to terms, the family of four with their father and grandmother ended up selling their apartment to Ansurkars. The destiny connected the two tragedy hit families," recalls a family friend.
The burns of 1992-93 left a deep scar on the fabric of inclusive India, notes documentary maker Anand Patwardhan, adding that nothing much has changed on the ground for Muslims.
“The demolition of Babri was an uncalled for act. Before the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation, they had two seats in Parliament. After the violence, they got 180 seats and now they rule the country. Today there is no violence on the ground because Muslims are terrified,” says Mr Patwardhan.
While polarisation increased over the period of last 27 years, the routine life for both communities has largely remained normal.
“Technology has helped improve understanding between Hindus and Muslims. Intellectuals from Hindu community have always stood by Muslims,," adds Mr Latif.