Navi Mumbai Holi riots

Navi Mumbai Holi riots

The Navi Mumbai Holi riots was a series of violent incidents that took place around Navi Mumbai for about a week beginning the day after Holi (March 14) of 2006. The riots began in the Ghansoli node, and soon spread to other nodes, including Vashi and Koparkhairane. The feuding parties were Ghansoli agri/koli locals and mathadi settlers, with pre-existing "native vs. immigrant" political bad blood between the two communities serving as a tinderbox. The police were also criticized for excessive use of force, and thereby allegedly aggravating the situation. Police inexperience and lack of riot/crowd control vehicles and devices, as well as delayed police and special forces deployment also allowed to violence to spread. The rioting resulted in a curfew over various nodes, destruction of property including vehicles, several tens of injuries and three deaths.


The riots took place over about four days, and spread to various nodes of the city until they were quelled by police action and political appeasement.

Wednesday, March 15

There are two versions of how the riots began. One is that some Ghansoli agri forcibly applied Holi colours on a mathadi youth (in some sub-versions, a girl), resulting in a scuffle in the afternoon. Another version is that some agri harassed a mathadi girl. The evening saw invasions by both sides on each other's colonies, as well as a road blockade by the mathadi.

Thursday, March 16

Mobs of several hundreds each clash using iron rods, bottles, knives and stones. Mathadi leader Narendra Patil attempts to mediate, but his peace conference is attacked by a sword-wielding mob, resulting in injury to him and fatal injury to his bodyguard Chandu Bharugade. Police fire tear gas shells and run a lathi charge, then start firing at around 11:30 am, resulting in the deaths of two persons. The mobs retaliate violently and curfew is imposed in Ghansoli, seeing the deployment of the State Reserve Police Force and Rapid Action Force. 75 are injured by the end of the day, according to the hospitals, while the police claim the toll is only 17. The injured included a Deputy Commissioner Amar Jadhav and Inspector Shamsher Singh Pathan (who faced calls for resignation by the public), as well as numerous other police personnel. The mob also gutted several vehicles. The Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh declares that the situation was "under control".

Friday, March 17

Violence spreads to other nodes, beginning with Nerul in the evening, then Koparkhairane, Baundkare, Turbhe and Vashi. Police heavy-handedness results in protests and calls to accountability by residents. Police stations in Nerul and Koparkhairane are invaded by angry mob, and a mob attempts to set fire to a police chowky. Police extend curfew to Koparkhairane, Ghansoli and Vashi. A general bandh is called in the city - public transport grinds to a halt and shops drop their shutters. Eight were arrested for participating in the violence.

Saturday, March 18

Female protestors pelt stones at the residence of Excise Minister Ganesh Naik, and police are noticeably milder in dispersing them. Sporadic violence continued in Koparkhairane, and the curfew remained in place. A mob also attacks media vehicles. At least 167 persons were arrested, and 125 were taken into preventive custody.

Monday, March 20

The curfew was almost completely lifted due to lack of new reports of violence.


Inspector Pathan was transferred on March 18 (officially based on his own pre-riot request for transfer) by Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil under pressure from the public, to be replaced by the agri Senior Inspector B R Patil. A CID probe was launched to investigate the death of Bharugade. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackeray visited Ghansoli village on March 23 to meet the injured, the families of two of the deceased, and some of the mathadi living near the centre of the violence.


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