As the year draws to a close with no sign of an independent inquiry in sight, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) released a report today, producing data and comprehensive accounts of victims to press for the need for a fresh probe into the Delhi Riots in February.
With over 53 deaths in six days of continued violence, the riots that took place in February this year left a long-lasting impact on the lives of minorities in the national capital, with many faced with continued harassment and arrests.
The report compiles data available through police chargesheets, replies of the court and raises pertinent questions about the law and governance by the Union Home Ministry. It stated that the attempts made by the Delhi police to stall the violence did not add up and that violence was allowed to prevail “unabated”, for six days.
On February 23 – the day the riots began – only 450 police personnel were present in north-east Delhi, despite over 700 distress calls on the same day. The report said limited police personnel were sent by the ministry to take control of the situation. This, despite the availability of 39 intelligence inputs, it said. Furthermore, on the second day, the police did not impose a curfew.
The report showed that despite the violence picking up pace on the second day of the violence (February 24), more people lost their lives and dozens of homes and shops were vandalised or burned down by unhindered armed mobs in the presence of 1,393 police personnel.
The table below has been compiled from police submissions to the courts and have been quoted in the report. It shows that a significant deployment of security personnel was effective only by the third or fourth day of the unbridled violence in the area, raising questions about reasons behind this laxity.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Brinda Karat, politburo member of the CPI(M) said: “This was a huge failure on the part of the intelligence of the Delhi police; from Sherpur chowk the mobs went on a rampage, setting fire to the shops and the houses of people, ruthlessly killing and attacking many. Despite repeated appeals by the Delhi minorities commission the police presence did not increase.”
“It becomes clear that this was a political message: no protest against CAA. This was, in fact, a deliberate attempt by the home ministry to let the violence continue unabated,” she added.
The report addresses the social and economic situation of north-east Delhi. After losing the Delhi assembly polls, the BJP, along with its affiliated organisations, continued to communalise the atmosphere. The report also documents testimonies of families who have lost members to the violence.
Kismatoon, the mother of Faizan – one of the young men who were caught on video being forced to sing the national anthem by police personnel – who died post-police brutality, was present at the launch. “I could not even see my son; the police tortured him in the streets and later in the police station. His only fault was that he was a Muslim. I wish the police would have shot him; instead, the police tortured him and killed him. All I want now is justice,” she said.
The report demanded an independent inquiry into the conduct of the Delhi Police. Retired SC Justice V. Gopala Gowda, who was present at the launch, said that the teams which compiled the report went house to house to collect information and verify details. Additionally, the report was compiled after having fact-checked with those running businesses.
“Those who were responsible for taking care of the law and order situation and the rule of law failed to do so. Despite available information no action was taken; these are questions facing the executive and the government must come clean,” he said.
The members of the team which released the report highlighted that it was aimed at keeping the public memory alive and to keep building pressure on the government to conduct an independent probe and answer the citizens of India.
Also Read: Post-riots Delhi: Fearing Arrest, Muslim Men Flee Home; Women Left to Run Families