Demand Growing for Independent Probe by Ex-Judges into Delhi Riots

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Delhi’s Anti-Muslim communal violence

The letter said that there was a conflict of interests in the police investigation under home minister Amit Shah who himself led a communal election campaign in Delhi which was a prelude to the riots

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – As the Delhi Police have been facing massive criticism over their investigations into North-East Delhi’s February anti-Muslim communal violence, a demand for the independent probe under former judges is gaining momentum.

Around 270 eminent citizens of Delhi wrote to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking to set up an independent committee to probe the Delhi violence, saying the police investigation were “politically-motivated and one-sided.

“The totally one-sided and politically-motivated reports of the Delhi police regarding the communal violence were also in sharp contrast to the report and recommendations of the Delhi Minority Commission. This makes the setting up of such a probe all the more urgent,” reads the statement signed by many prominent social and political activists.

The signatories include Air Vice Marshal (Retd.) N.I. Razzaqui; former Foreign Secretary Muchkund Dubey; former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah; CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat; social activists Harsh Mander and Swami Agnivesh; journalists H.K. Dua and Mrinal Pande; former Planning Commission member Sayeda Hameed; and academicians Prabhat Patnaik and Jayati Ghosh.

They demanded that the investigation be conducted in a time-bound manner and various aspects of the violence that had claimed 53 lives should be covered. They said that there was a conflict of interests in the police investigation under home minister Amit Shah, who himself led a communal election campaign in Delhi which was a prelude to the riots.

Supreme Court advocate Mahmood Pracha, who is handling the cases of victims of the riots, also supported the demand for the independent probe. “Many officers of the investigative agencies who are probing the riots cases are themselves accused. In this situation, what kind of investigation, they will conduct,” asked Pracha talking to Clarion India.

“The investigation which has been conducted by the Delhi police so far is completely biased. We have challenged many of them in the court. Since many officers are accused in these cases, they will conduct investigation only to protect themselves and their co-accused RSS-BJP people,” said Pracha.

Pracha also said that through their investigation, the police are also pressurizing the complainants to withdraw their complaints or implicate them into some cases. “This is the purpose of police investigations into the Delhi riots cases,” he said.

Last week, the Delhi High Court slammed the police in a riot case saying that the police are taking the judicial system for a ride and misusing it.

Another Supreme Court advocate MR Shamsad, who led the fact-finding team formed by the Delhi Minority Commission to investigate the violence, also supported the demand for the independent probe. He told Clarion India that this wasthe first recommendation the fact-finding team had filed.

In its fact-finding report released a week ago, the committee, which also accused the police of complicit in the violence, recommended that the Delhi minority panel should file a petition seeking to form a five-member committee to investigate the riots. The committee should be headed by a sitting or retired high court judge and comprise a District and Sessions Court judge, a senior advocate, a retired police officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector General or above and a civil society member of repute as members.

However, civil rights activist and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand is not much hopeful of the independent investigation.

“If an independent committee is set up to investigate the riots, it must be independent. The question is that how can the committee be independent? Seeing the present situation of the investigative agencies, we don’t have much expectation. Who will ensure that the investigation remain independent.” He asked adding that “if the independent committee is under the former judges, which judge will head the committee. Is it the judge like former chief justice Ranjan Gogoi?”

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