Anti-CAA Activists Blast Delhi Police, Call Investigation Into Riots a ‘Conspiracy’

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Police photograph burnt properties owned by Muslims in a riot affected area, New Delhi, March 2, 2020. Photo: Reuters

Virtual press conference was addressed by Umar Khalid, Apoorvanand, Harsh Mandar, Yogendra Yadav and Kawalpreet Kaur

Mohd Aasif | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Anti-CAA activists held a virtual press conference on Friday wherein they raised serious questions about the functioning of the Delhi Police. Referring to the investigation being done into the February 2020 violence where at least 53 people died and property worth crores were destroyed, they asked, “Is this an investigation into a ‘conspiracy’ or is the investigation itself a conspiracy?”

The press conference was addressed by former JNU student and activist Umar Khalid, Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand, Karwan-e-Mohabbat founder Harsh Mandar, Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav and AISA Delhi President Kawalpreet Kaur.

They said that the movement that they had launched to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was peaceful.

A number of protesters, who have been booked under the stringent UAPA law are currently languishing in jails. They have been implicated in the Delhi riot that broke out in February. The activists appealed that irrespective of their ideology, people being in the jails should be released immediately.

Civil rights activist Harsh Mander, who has been a civil servant, said riots cannot sustain more than a few hours if the state does not sponsor or support them. “Such violence requires hate, preparation and planning,” he added.

Civil rights activist Prof. Apoorvanand said that Delhi Police are a professional force and should not be used for serving any kind of ideology. “It seems that the Delhi Police are following a script written by the RSS and BJP leaders”, he charged.

Supporting the argument, Kanwalpreet Kaur of AISA said that a narrative of chronology is found in the investigation of the Delhi Police. “Coincidentally, the same narrative was set in the so-called fact-finding report handed over to the Home Minister”, she added. She alleged that police were following the same narrative which was set by news agency ANI and Rajasthan Patrika in the beginning of March this year.

Umar Khalid also focused on the partisan behaviour of the Delhi Police. Questioning the law and order in the city, he asked if there are separate laws for VIPs of ruling parties and for dissenters. “Those who openly instigated the mob for violence are enjoying immunity from the punishment and the victims are being held guilty”, he said.

Yogender Yadav of Swaraj India referred to the questionnaires he sent to the commissioner of Delhi Police. “It is a matter of concern that the police did not take cognizance of the video of people who incited violence”, he said.

During the northeast Delhi violence, a video surfaced on social media of four men being thrashed by police personnel asking them to sing the national anthem. “Why did the Delhi Police not file a complaint against those personnel? How can they not identify their people if they can identify people from mobs”, Yadav wondered. Faizan, one of the four men seen in the video, died due to injuries.

Demanding a fair investigation, Umar Khalid claimed that the Delhi Police are not investigating the conspiracy of the riots. Rather it is trying to prove that the anti-CAA movement was part of the conspiracy. He said, “Police are putting words in the mouths of the people being called for interrogation. They are forcing witnesses to sign on the affidavits”.

As a matter of fact, the confessions taken in police custody are not admissible in the court yet police are using them for a media trial. Yadav said that police leaks the information to the partisan media. “It is enough to make a public opinion”, he said.

Following is the text of press release that was issued on the occasion:

This press conference has been called in the backdrop of a continuing attempt by the Delhi Police to falsely implicate activists of the anti-CAA/NRC/NPR movements as the masterminds of the brutal communal violence in parts of Northeast Delhi in February that led to the death of 53 people, and injured hundreds. Over the past half year, the supporters and participants of these protests continue to be summoned by the police, harassed and subjected to long interrogations. Several young activists and students also continue to languish in prison under the draconian anti-terror law – UAPA – for almost 6 months now, without any official charges framed against them. Despite inconsistencies and lies that have been rebutted publicly, the Delhi Police has continued unrelentingly with the theory – not coincidentally propounded by the ruling dispensation – that the roots of the conspiracy of the riots lie in the protests against CAA.

However, on several occasions since December 2019, leaders and supporters of the BJP were seen inciting people to take the law into their own hands and making hate speeches. It would have been reasonable to expect any fair investigative agency to probe the impact such speeches had on the gradual breakdown of law and order in Delhi and subsequently its complete collapse in parts of North-East Delhi between 23-26 February. After all, the majority of targets of the Delhi violence – as pointed out even in the affidavit filed by the police in court – were Muslims, their livelihoods, properties and places of worship. But instead, the ‘investigation’ of the conspiracy behind the riots has chosen to target exactly those whom these hate speeches were made against – the participants and supporters of the protests against CAA/NRC/NPR.

On more than one occasion, the police has tried to build a ‘chronology’ of events as part of this conspiracy. In this version, the conspiracy of these riots began with the anti-CAA protests in Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh in mid-December. The chronology then goes on to detail other major anti-CAA protests in Delhi as all part of this conspiracy and the prominent voices as conspirators. This ‘chronology’, however, is conspicuously silent on the actions and statements of leaders of the BJP and actual incidents of violence since December.

We want to ask a few pointed questions to the Delhi Police, about which it has maintained an evasive silence:

  • On 25 February, a statement was released by the Press Information Bureau, after Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a meeting attended by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. The statement said. “Shri Shah noted that the professional assessment is that the violence in the capital has been spontaneous.” However, just a few days later, the home minister contradicted his previous statement and stated in the Lok Sabha that the riots were a pre-planned conspiracy. This was even before any investigation had begun into the riots. Is the entire investigation just a façade to arrive at pre-meditated conclusions already announced before the investigation had even commenced?
  • Why is the chronology by the police silent on the two incidents of shootings on protestors that happened in Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh on 29 January and 1st February? Why is the chronology silent on the statements made by Anurag Thakur exhorting his supporters to shoot whom he considers as traitors on 27 January – just a few days before the two shooting incidents?
  • Between December and February, BJP leader Kapil Mishra made several inciting statements asking people to shoot the ‘traitors’ in December 2019, calling the upcoming Delhi elections a battle between India and Pakistan in first week of February 2020, and also threatening in front of the DCP that his supporters will take the law into their own hands if the police does not clear the protestors. Does the Delhi police not consider these utterances as clearly an attempt to provoke violence and promote disaffection and divide between communities? PRESS RELEASE Statement released by Activists of Anti-CAA-NRC-NPR movement in a Press Conference Is this an investigation into a “ conspiracy” or is the investigation itself a conspiracy? 4 SEPTEMBER 2020
  • During the violence, multiple videos emerged of persons associated with the ruling dispensation openly inciting and participating in the violence and carnage. In one such video, which was streamed live on Facebook from Maujpur, a woman named Ragini Tiwari is seen openly asking people to kill or die. Why does her name not find any mention in the chronology of the ‘conspiracy’ put out by the Delhi Police? Reports have also surfaced accusing BJP leaders like Satya Pal Singh, Jagdish Pradhan, Nand Kishore Gujjar and Mohan Singh Bisht. Why has the police not taken cognisance of all this so far?
  • A video showed officials of the Delhi Police assaulting four brutally injured men, and forcing them to chant the national anthem. One of them, 23-year-old Faizan, subsequently succumbed to the injuries he sustained in this assault. Has the Delhi Police initiated any actions against its personnel who were involved in this assault, that led to the death of one person?
  • Has the police even taken cognisance of the brutal custodial torture meted out to one of the arrested persons Khalid Saifi?
  • Has the police ordered any probe to several accounts where police allegedly was complicit in the violence, directing mobs pelting stones or looking the other way when mobs were indulging in violence in front of them. There have been multiple occasions showing police breaking CCTV cameras too. Are these charges being fairly probed?
  • Many of those already arrested were initially in different FIRs. It was only after they secured bail in the cases for which they were initially arrested, that the police implicated them in the conspiracy case under UAPA. Is this a ploy to keep protestors in jail for long periods, without the need to provide evidence or frame charges? Why is a draconian anti-terror law like UAPA being used to probe this case?

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