15 days after five people were killed and several others injured in police firing after the Hyderabad Makkah (Mecca) Masjid blast, the Andhra Pradesh goverment has appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate into the events leading to the incident. The commission would be headed by Judge V Bhaskara Rao and submit its report within three months.
“The Government of Andhra Pradesh are of the opinion that it is necessary to appoint a Commission of Inquiry for the purpose of making an inquiry into a definite matter of public importance hereinafter specified. Now, therefore, in exercise of powers conferred by section 3 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 (Central Act No.60 of 1952), the Government hereby appoint Justice V Bhaskara Rao, Retired Judge, High Court of A.P. as Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the incident that led to opening of fire by police on 18.05.2007 near Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad,” according to the notification issued on Saturday and made public on Sunday night. [Rediff.com]
In a related development:
The Special Branch of Hyderabad City Police and State Intelligence had submitted their preliminary reports to the government admitting that the police firing on May 18 was indiscriminate and unwarranted. These reports pointed out that policemen had trained their guns on a panic-stricken mob running away from the blast site. The post-mortem reports too indicated that the police firing was indiscriminate, resulting in the death of five persons. The bullets were fired from Self-Loading Rifles normally used in encounters with Maoists or terrorists.
The City Security Wing, in its report, stated that as many as 90 rounds were fired by the policemen. Six constables of the Quick Response Team of the City Police had fired 72 rounds, three constables of the City Armed Reserve had fired 11 rounds and three constables of the West and North Zone Task Force had fired seven rounds at Panch Mohalla and Charminar bus stop near Mecca Masjid. The policemen used six SLRs, four .303 rifles and two pistols. [Rediff.com]
Using automatic weapons to shoot down panic stricken unarmed civilians is unlawful, shameful and further erodes trust in the ability of the police to act as a neutral force to control law and order situations. Hopefully the Commission of Inquiry will properly investigate the events leading to the killing of five people, fix responsibility and recommend action against the guilty.