Hyderabad: As the city received the Supreme Court judgment on the Ayodhya case with calm, memories went back to the tumultuous events after December 6, 1992, when Hyderabad and undivided Andhra Pradesh remained relatively peaceful when compared to some of the other states.
The man of the moment then was former DGP M.V. Bhaskar Rao, Hyderabad police commissioner at that time. Mr Rao shared his memories with Deccan Chronicle about how the police effectively handled the situation.
“Our advance preparedness helped us a lot to minimise the damage. Though there were hundreds of deaths in other metros, Hyderabad reco-rded only two fatalities and that too in police firing.”
Rioting and clashes were quickly quelled. Mr Rao had taken the hot seat when Hyderabad was reeling under communal rioting and hundreds of people had been killed from September 1989 to the middle of 1991.
In this tinderbox atmosp-here came the killing of additional superintendent of police, Kris-hna Prasad, and his gunman by terrorists during a raid on November 29, 1992. Emotions still raw in a smouldering city, the unprecedented demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6 threatened to trigger a conflagration. The police in a sense began preparing just three days prior. “As soon as we received information of kar sevaks reaching Ayodhya in large numbers from across the country, we started our precautionary measures from December 3, 1992,” Rao recalls.
Police rounded up about 2,800 persons who had a history of communal rioting and each of them were capable of mobilising up to 50 people with just one call. These persons were distributed across 60 police stations in the city. They would ultimately stay in the police stations till normalcy was restored.
Three days later, when news of the demolition began filtering in, Mr Rao recalls being “really under tremendous pressure and tense.”
“We anticipated huge violence in the city keeping in view past experience,” he said. The day passed off in a sullen quiet.
The next day, at about 9.45 am, he received information over the police radio of a huge mob that had gathered in the Charminar area and was pelting stones. “I ordered firing at ‘12 o’clock’,” he said, referring to police-speak to fire at the chest rather than in the air. Two people were killed and the mob dispersed.
“Soon after the firing we imposed curfew, which continued till December 23,” Mr Rao recalls. Police exempted medical shops and gave one-hour relaxations every day from 5 am to 6 am so that people could buy milk and essentials.
“Officers were ordered to issue curfew passes preferable to women so that we could avoid having more men on the roads,” he said.
The police force was boosted in the restive south zone of the city which then had a population of more than 17 lakh Muslims. “I remained in my office in the Old City all those days,” he said.
By the time it all ended, a total of eight persons were killed in police firing and six others were stabbed to death in post-demolition riots. In the rest of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, the toll was about 15. The death toll across the nation was more than 1,100.
He said that after normalcy was restored, parliament appreciated then chief minister Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy, for maintaining law and order in Hyder-abad given its communal bloodletting just a year earlier.
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