A top Thane police official, who retired from service on September 30, claimed that the communal violence at Rabodi could have been dealt within 15 minutes and with just half the number of policemen deployed if the police were given a free hand in the matter. “Half the police strength and 15 minutes were all that was required to contain the situation, provided the police had been given a free hand without any political interference,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Thane) Madhu Shinde, who was injured in his leg while dealing with the clashes that broke out on September 29.
“The morale of the police force has hit an all time low. Right now the police are working under immense stress and always hesitate to act boldly as they fear action against them,” said Shinde. He claimed that human casualty and damage to property could have been reduced had there been no political interference.
The riots left one person dead, 62 people injured and property worth several lakhs damaged. Moshim Khan (21), a resident of Kranti Nagar at Rabodi who was killed in the police firing, hailed from Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh and was working as a cleaner in a truck. Several people were deprived of their livelihood due to the violence. Zainul Sheikh, who lived beside Rabodi police station, returned home after fleeing from a mob with his family, only to find it gutted. “All the cash kept in the house has been reduced to ashes and the jewellery worth Rs 50,000 was missing,” Sheikh was reported as saying. Several families had to flee from their homes in fear and are now living with their relatives.