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Chapter 9 : Police's Pilot Plan
“When the bomb blasts took place, we arrested 5 persons within a couple of hours. We found that Habib was being manhandled by some people in a crowd, when some police officials were passing through that location.
After questioning them, we took them all into the police station and subjected them to further questioning. We allowed the others to go with the warning that whenever we wanted them they should come to the police station for further questioning”.
“We found that Habib was very intelligent and wanted to retain him, since for the past 6 months or so we had been working on some plans on a pilot basis. This pilot plan was the idea of the commissioner of Mumbai police”.
“As per this plan, some volunteers from the muslim society were to be selected and associated with the police for carrying out various types activities in the society to create harmony between the Hindu and the Muslim communities”.
Before he could continue, Habib’s father asked Kulkarni why were the people manhandling Habib?
Kulkarni said, “The crowd was suspecting that Habib was siding with the Hindus, when they - all of them were muslims - were suspecting that the police would arrest whichever muslim person was found to be running anywhere at that time. So they were angry with Habib and were trying to beat him thinking that he was acting against the muslims. All he was doing at that time was to tell the muslims that they should remain calm and should not create any troubles to the others”.
“So we took Habib to our special cell for the time being, telling him that he was retained there due to the disturbance caused by him! It was actually to protect him from others. We immediately contacted the commissioner and told him about Habib and suggested to him that Habib could be persuaded to act as the volunteer for the pilot plan”.
“The commissioner, after getting the background information about him said that it was OK and asked us to go ahead and inform Habib about our plan and to ask him whether he would be ready to work as the volunteer for the pilot plan”.
“Accordingly, after a few hours we briefed him about the plan and asked for his opinion. But he was quite confused about it and frankly he did not believe us. He asked us many questions as to whether only muslims would be taken as the volunteers. He felt that the police suspected the muslims only as the troublemakers and that’s why he wanted to ask us whether hindus would also be taken in as volunteers for the plan”.
“We told him that people from all the communities, whether hindus or muslims or christians or sikhs, were going to be taken as volunteers for this pilot plan and that already a number of hindus and other community members had joined as volunteers. Some meetings had also taken place as a part of the plan etc. But everything was going on in a very quiet manner without any publicity”.
“He said that he would like to discuss the issues with you (parents) before he could come to any decision about it, but we persuaded him to keep this as a secret, since it is a new type of initiative and we did not want any mistakes to happen”.
“He was very apprehensive about it, but the commissioner personally met him and convinced him that the scheme is very special and he need not have any worries about it. The commissioner explained to him that since he was taken from a spot where there was some trouble and people who had seen him being taken away in a police van would have thought that he was arrested. So the commissioner told him that let the people think that he was arrested and hence he was in police custody”.
“But as per this plan we wanted to approach the muslims to tell them that some of them had been arrested wrongly due to so many wrong concepts or suspicions in the minds of everyone including the police and so it becomes necessary for all community members to discuss every aspect of community relationships in all frankness to remove all misunderstandings between the communities, so that in the future, nobody becomes a victim to any rumours or wrong propaganda about any other community and create disturbances”.
“The commissioner also told him that this plan was a secret and was known only to a very few police personnel and that was another reason for him to remain with the police for the time being. So to carry on with the project, the police would announce to the public that he was one of the arrested persons in connection with the bomb blasts case and kept in the special police premises, which was something like a guest house”.
“After a lot of hesitation he agreed to the plan. Once some order was restored following the bomb blasts, we started meeting various people in different wards of Mumbai”.
He called a constable to bring a photo album giving a number. After a few minutes, it was brought to him.
Kulkarni showed it to Habib’s parents and they saw various photos fixed in the album. All of them showed Habib with some persons in different flats of people. In some of the photos he was seen talking animatedly with the flat members seen in the photos.
There were also some photos showing certain roads, some buildings and some localities. All the photos had date stamps on them showing that they were taken during the past 2 and a half months.
All the people assembled there went through the album and were discussing various points among them and went on asking various questions to Kulkarni. They could not make out the significance of those photos and waited for the inspector to explain the same to them. ****
(To be continued)
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