A shocking revelation contained in the report is how local Muslim residents of North East Delhi have been harassed and intimidated by the police, and subsequently incriminated in the cases
NEW DELHI – Delhi Police has all along been claiming the hands of ‘outsiders’ in Delhi riots that shook the capital in February this year. Even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has repeated the same on several occasions. But a new fact-finding report establishes the fact that the riots that claimed 53 lives and left hundreds wounded were a job of ‘locals’.
Titled, “Delhi Riots of February 2020: Causes, Fallout and Aftermath”, the 227-page report highlights troubling aspects of the police investigation into the Delhi Riots, including intimidation of Muslim residents of North East Delhi, denial of legal access and loopholes in the chargesheets. The report, prepared by a group of concerned citizens, lawyers and students, was released in New Delhi on Monday.
Here are some selected excerpts from the report.
“A total of 1,300 arrests were made till 27 May 2020, though subsequently, in their Affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court on 13 July 2020, the Police disclosed that 1,430 arrests had been affected in 751 FIRs. However, at the outset some news reports quoting unnamed ‘police sources’ suggested the involvement of ‘outsiders’ and gangs from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. Even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reiterated this and pinned the blame on ‘outsiders’, as opposed to the reports by the residents of the areas that witnessed the violence.
“Other side of these claims lie the conversations with local residents which seem to point to locals’ involvement as well. Among the murderous mobs were ordinary men like Kumar who gloated about killing ‘mohammadans’ on February 25th. He described how he got his first catch:
The Mohammadan was running. The Hindu public was chasing him. I was leading the pack. I was the first to catch up with him, and hit him with my rod on his head. He fell down, and the public pounced on him after that…de dhanadhan-dhan.”
Loopholes in the chargesheets
The report has collated different accounts that raise significant questions over some of the chargesheets filed by the Delhi Police. Some points highlighted in the report are:
1. Chargesheets filed in the case of the death of a 20-year-old waiter Dilbar Negi named 12 people. Negi’s mutilated and charred body was found in Shiv Vihar’s Anil Sweets on 26th February. Besides this, the 12 accused are also charged with criminal conspiracy, rioting, and promoting enmity between groups in areas like Seelampur, Jafrabad. As analysed by the Indian Express, the confession statements of all 12 accused in case of rioting and hatching criminal conspiracy seem to be a copy-paste of each other: Nine of the 12 accused have statements near-identical — words and sentences are repeated ad verbatim—this includes: matching excerpts of statements of Azad (24), Rashid/Monu (20), Ashraf Ali (29) and Mohd Faizal (20) related to the Seelampur riots; Similar is the pattern in the confession statements of Mohammed Shoeb (22) and Shahrukh (24) related to Jafrabad riots; The statements of Tahir (38), Parvez (34) and Rashid (22), constitutes an almost similar matching set, identical to the statements above.
2. Charge sheet filed in Negi’s case claimed that he ‘was burnt alive’ when a ‘Muslim mob’ targeted shops and properties of Hindus near the Brijpuri-Shiv Vihar-Mustafabad crossing on 24 February. The Quint managed to access the chargesheet and figured out quite a number of loopholes in it. Few of them being the discrepancies of dates of the CCTV footage cited and date/time of Negi’s death, lags in the call details of Negi, etc.
3. Other patterns that were revealed during the reportage by the scroll was the case of Shiv Vihar resident Hasim Ali (60) and a Yamuna Vihar resident Subhash Tyagi (51). Both were the victims of the violence and even had filed complaints about their experiences and losses incurred due to violence, but they ended up being prosecuted by the police under various offences. On one hand Hasim was arrested on April 4th on the charges of rioting in the volatile areas on the basis of the photos and videos that the police was in possession of where he was allegedly seen directing the mob to riot; on the other hand Subhash was arrested on April 9th under the charges of murder of an NGO worker Parvez Alam (50) and its basis was his phone location being same as Alam’s murder location. Whereas Alam’s neighbours claim that he fell to a bullet shot but police and medico-legal certificate claimed he succumbed to gunshot injuries.”
Intimidation of Muslim Residents
A shocking revelation contained in the report is how local Muslim residents of North East Delhi have been harassed and intimidated by the police, and subsequently incriminated in the cases.
“Reports show how not only various detentions of Muslim men have taken place in a strategic manner but also how no information was being shared with their families, lawyers and social activists. The accusations also state how the information was first leaked to the media houses before releasing it to the families. The account of Rehan Ali (20) a resident of Gali Number 4 in Moonga Nagar, New Mustafabad area, presents a similar ordeal. Non-uniformed men picked up Ali’s elder brother Riyasat and father Liaqat on 7 March for “pooch-taach”— enquiry. They refused to give the family any details about the arrests, rather asked them to check with the Sunlight Colony police station near Ashram.
The police was employing tactics of picking up one male member of a family and coercing another member to present themselves before the police. Denial of legal access and access to family members over extended periods was a common feature in all the testimonies. Jaya, a researcher who has been documenting the detentions and arrests confirmed this pattern of targeting one particular community but doing it in such a way that it was stretching the limits of the law. ‘Because they cannot keep one detained for more than 24 hours legally, they are releasing the person at the last moment and then picking him up again,’ she said.”