“Some officers had wanted to act against Mishra, but that they were pressured by the force’s leadership not to touch “the warriors of the government.”
NEW DELHI — A report published by The New York Times on Sunday said that Delhi police officers are under pressure to not arrest the controversial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kapil Mishra accused of instigating anti-Muslim riots in Delhi in late February.
Citing an unnamed Superintendent of Police, the report said the top echelons of the police force stopped lower officials from taking action against Mishra. “Some officers had wanted to act against Mishra, but that they were pressured by the force’s leadership not to touch “the warriors of the government.”
“We did not even try,” the superintendent said. “The directions were clear: Don’t lay your hands on him.”
At least 53 people were killed, most of them Muslims, during the riots that shook parts of North-East Delhi in late February after Mishra gave provocative speeches instigating the crowds against people who were on roads for months protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act, which critics say discriminates against Muslims.
Mosques and homes of Muslims were set afire in the bloody violence. There were also cases of violence against Hindus in some places, leaving nearly a dozen Hindus dead.
The NYT report titled ‘India Rounds Up Critics Under Shadow of Virus Crisis, Activists Say’ claims that the government, under the cover of coronavirus lockdown was going after those who opposed the “iron-fisted and anti-minority policies” of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to the report, the rights groups have said that the police were detaining activists and ordinary Muslims arbitrarily based on scant evidence but have denied accusations of impropriety. “It is very important that the police force remain impartial,” said the police chief in New Delhi. “And we are following this principle from Day 1.”
Reports have suggested that the police have “detained about 1,300 people for involvement in the protests and riots, including an equal number of Hindus and Muslims.” But lawyers have accused the police of withholding the information about the arrests.
According the report, a judge hearing a case against a Muslim protester wrote that the police appeared to be targeting only “one end” without probing the “rival faction.” During the riots, the police were accused of abetting Hindus and, in some cases, torturing Muslims. The torture of Khalid Saifi, an incarcerated rights activist who works with United against Hate group, was reported in the media after his wheelchair-bound image went viral.
Last week, the Delhi Minorities Commission, a government body, released a report accusing the police of siding with the mobs in the anti-Muslim violence. It blamed BJP leaders for instigating the riots through fiery speeches during and after local elections.