“Delhi violence had been pre-planned by BJP-RSS men to unleash it on the Muslim community because they were protesting against an illegal and cruel law (CAA) which was going to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship,” says Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, Chairman of Delhi Minority Commission in an exclusive interview with Clarion India
Ghazanfar Abbas | Clarion India
NEW DELHI — In an exclusive interview with Clarion India, Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, Chairman of the Delhi Minority Commission, has accused the BJP, especially its leader Kapil Mishra, of instigating the communal violence in the northeast Delhi that occurred in February 2020. Dr Khan said that rather than taking action against the real perpetrators, Delhi Police have falsely implicated students and activists in terror cases by linking two different things — the riots and the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
During the lockdown amidst Covid-19, Delhi Police have booked scores of anti-CAA-NRC students and youth activists from the prestigious Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), under a draconian anti-terror law – Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) accusing them of “hatching conspiracy to incite violence” in the northeast Delhi which occurred just after BJP leader Kapil Mishra made a provocative speech on February 23.
Excerpts from the interview:
How do you view the arrests of student activists by Delhi Police during the lockdown?
Dr Khan: The crackdown started just after the riots, about a month before the lockdown was imposed. They (Delhi Police) started randomly picking up Muslim boys aged between 20 to 30 years. I sent a notice to the police over this but they replied that they were not doing this. However, from the ground reports and (also) because dozens of people phoned me I knew it was happening. That’s why many families sent away their young boys to their relatives and villages because it was happening every day.
They tried to frame charges, or made them witnesses or try to use them to implicate somebody else and take money from them to release etc. Meanwhile, the lockdown came and this gave them further clout because under the lockdown people could not resist, go out or even go to the police station. So, first it started with local people. Then they started with these anti-CAA protesters who had been in the forefront of the protest in Jamia Nagar and Shaheen Bagh and other places also.
The student activists have been charged with instigating the Delhi riots by Delhi Police. Your take?
They (police) are trying to somehow connect two different things. The riots started with the call of Kapil Mishra, the BJP point man. It is very well known. And when I myself visited the affected area (northeast Delhi) on 2nd Macrh, I found a lot of evidence showing that this was pre-planned. Rioters were brought from outside.
Around 90 per cent of the victims were Muslims; those who were either killed or injured or whose houses were burnt and blasted. About 21 mosques were burnt and so many offices, shops and workshops were also burnt. So it was one way. The violence was unleashed on the Muslim community over there because they were protesting against an illegal and cruel law (CAA) which was going to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship. All over India, something like 700 protests were going on but no stone was ever thrown and no violence was resorted to. (In fact) if there was any violence, it was against these protesters as we had witnessed here in Delhi and other places.
Police are now trying somehow to link these people who were spearheading the protest to the riots; that they instigated the riots which is totally wrong. There is a history of police in India that how in the last 20 years they have been implicating Muslim youths (in these cooked up terror cases). Most of them are acquitted after 15 to 20 years and there is no news (in media). So they know how to fabricate cases. I am afraid that they will succeed once again in making the same kind of fake and concocted narrative to show that there had been some connection between the citizenship protests and the riots.
The (real) connection between riots and protests is that BJP and RSS people tried to bring these protests to an end and that was a trial run to show that if you don’t stop (protesting) then we are going to hit you. So if there is any connection, it is this connection. (It’s) not these people who were protesting (who instigated the riots), they themselves did it.
Is it legally viable to slap an anti-terror law like UAPA on peaceful students?
Here there are no terror cases. Here there is only misuse of an Act. The police are very clever about this. I think all these cases will fall flat in courts. People were protesting peacefully and legally very well within their legal rights under the Indian constitution. I hope that courts will throw out all these cases, especially the misuse of of UAPA against these protesters which is unjust.