New Delhi: “The police was coordinating with the mob and the mob kept on chanting, ‘Dilli Police Zindabad’ (Long Live Delhi Police),” says a Delhi Minorities Commission report detailing the communal violence in North-East Delhi in February this year. The Commission has cast serious doubts on the credibility and impartiality of the Delhi Police on July 16 while releasing its 134-page fact-finding report on the causes and perpetrators of the violence, which claimed the lives of 53 people and over 200 suffered injuries.
This came at a time when the Delhi Police has recently given clean chit to itself and other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including Kapil Mishra, who allegedly incited the communal unrest through their provocative speeches.
Prepared by a nine-member team headed by MR Shamshad, advocate-on-record in the Supreme Court, the report has already been submitted to Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
As protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act rocked the country, several leaders of the BJP, alleges the report, gave speeches ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections to incite violence against CAA opponents. Many such speeches have been made part of this report.
The report alleges that those who were protesting against the CAA were attacked by Hindu right-wing groups. It cites the instances of Rambhakt Gopal, who had opened fire at the protesters at Jamia Millia Islamia on January 30, and Kapil Gurjar, who had attacked the Shaheen Bagh protest site with bullets on February 1.
‘DELIBERATE POLICE INACTION’
The riots, according to the report, broke out immediately after Kapil Mishra’s speech on February 23 at Maujpur where he spoke of forcibly removing the protesters from Jaffrabad. However, the Delhi Police failed to take steps necessary to avoid violence, the report further alleges.
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“Deputy Commissioner of Police North East district, Shri Ved Prakash Surya, was standing right next to Shri Kapil Mishra when he said ‘after that we will not listen to the police…”. At this point, the police failed to apprehend and arrest Kapil Mishra and all those gathered to hear and cheered his speech. This indicates that they failed to take the first and most immediate preventive step needed to avoid violence from arising and protect life and property,” reads the report.
The report claims that the multiple testimonies collected by the fact-finding committee suggest “deliberate” police inaction even as violence unfolded before them or of police not arriving despite being called repeatedly.
STORIES OF ‘OMISSION’
The report alleges that victims in some instances have told the fact-finding team that they are being asked to arrive at a “compromise” with the accused persons named by them in their complaints and withdraw the same.
“Police have been visiting them for inquiries without sporting name tags, which is not only a violation of criminal procedure but also adds to the general climate of fear and distrust prevalent after the violence,” says the report.
A resident of Old Mustafabad is stated to have told the team that residents of Brijpuri slaughtered Muslim worshippers stepping out of Farroqia Masjid and threw them in the drain. According to the report, the respondent said he recognised some Rahul Verma and Arun Baisoya who were part of the mob, which was hacking Muslims to death. Verma allegedly shot at many who were offering prayers inside the mosque. Baisoya allegedly threw petrol bombs inside the mosque.
“In multiple testimonies, victims of violence have reported that FIRs have either been delayed or have not been acted upon,” the report claimed, adding that “in some cases, the police refused to register an FIR unless the complainant omitted names of the accused,” it alleged.
The report has doubted the credibility and impartiality of the probe being conducted into the incidents of rioting and killings. It adds that partisanship and bias on the part of the police and the government have led to the abject failure of duty and of the law and order machinery in the capital city. It also alleges that police investigations have purposefully been misdirected to change the narrative of the cause of the violence.
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The team has claimed that crucial aspects of the entire chain of events are missing from most of the chargesheets, which have been filed till date and which could be accessed by the fact-finding committee.
“Almost all the North East Delhi violence-related cases that the police are investigating are based on the premise that riots were planned by anti-CAA protesters to coincide with the US President Donald Trump’s visit to India in the third week of February. The first reference to the forthcoming Trump visit was published in India on 13 January while the alleged meeting of the “conspirators” is claimed by police to have been held on 8 January 2020,” it points out.
The report has further said that Kapil Mishra’s February 23 speech as well as other speeches and statements aimed at inciting violence against anti-CAA protesters have been ignored in the chargesheets.
‘POLICE JOINED RIOTERS’
The fact-finding team also claims to have received a video of the Muazzin (the man who gives prayer call) who is a resident of North-East Delhi narrating his story. In the video he allegedly narrated as to how he was beaten up by the police inside the Brijpuri Pulia Masjid while he was going to his residence, which is attached to the mosque, after offering prayers. His photo and video show his injuries.
The report further says that women from the Chand Bagh area explained to the fact-finding panel how they were attacked by the police. They were allegedly physical attacked by the men in uniform.
The report talks about an ordeal of a pregnant woman, who received 35 stitches after being hit by the police at the Chand Bagh anti-CAA protest site. Despite saying that she is pregnant, one of the tear gas shells exploded right in front of her.
“She somehow managed to get to Al-Hind Hospital where she was treated and informed that she had received about 35 stitches on her head. She was so traumatised that slogans like ‘Hindustan Hamaara Hai, Ek Bhee Musalmaan Nahi Rahega Yahaan (India is ours, not even one Muslim will stay here)’, kept ringing inside her head,” the report reads.
ALLEGATION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
One of the protesters at the Chand Bagh sit-in site, according to the report, stated that the Delhi Police brutally attacked and even sexually assaulted women.
“In her harrowing account, she stated that she was being attacked by rioters at Chand Bagh and that the two men who were trying to help her were being beaten up by the Police. She was even witness to the police dragging a 12/13-year-old girl. She tried to protect her but failed as she was hit on the head by a stone and she subsequently fainted. When she regained consciousness, she saw that there were many injured women around. The crowd of the rioters continuously kept abusing them. She recounts that it was then that the Police pulled their pants down and pointed their genitals towards the women stating that they wanted “freedom” and they were there to give them “freedom” and that this was their “freedom”,” the report alleges.
Chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Har Har Mahadev’ and raising abusive and anti-Muslim slogans, armed mob allegedly attacked people in several areas of North-East Delhi, setting their houses and shops on fire.
Majority of shops belonging to the Muslim community were “selectively targeted” by local youth with the help of people brought from outside, alleges the report, adding that “if the owner of the shop is a Hindu and the Muslim had taken the shop on rent, that shop was not set on fire, but the goods inside it were looted”.
After talking to the victims, says the report, it appears that the riots were not sporadic but “pre-planned” wherein people were selectively targeted.
According to the report, 11 mosques, five madrasas, a dargah (shrine) and a graveyard were damaged. No religious place belonging to non-Muslims was damaged in Muslim-concentrated areas.
‘NO COMPENSATION SO FAR’
The report claims that the fact-finding team studied 700 applications for compensation. The committee found that in most of the cases, even the assessment of damage has not been done. Those who are claimed to have got the compensation have got little interim assistance.
Many people had left their houses immediately after the riots, so they have not been able to appeal for compensation. While family members of a government officer who was killed in the violence have been given a sum of Rs 1 crore, ordinary citizens have got only Rs 10 lakh in total as compensation.
POLICE CLEAN CHIT
Meanwhile, the police have already given clean chit to BJP leaders, including Kapil Mishra, for their alleged involvement in the communal violence.
In an affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court on July 13, the cops said, “No actionable evidence has surfaced yet indicating any role being played by” any prominent political leader in “instigating and/or participating in the riots”.
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The affidavit was submitted responding to a batch of petitions, seeking registration of FIR against the BJP leaders.The police said that the petitioners have selectively chosen certain speeches and incident to settle their hidden agenda while ignoring the other incidents of violence that suggested that they are motivated.
At the same time, the police also claimed that they are examining the alleged hate speeches and that “necessary action will be taken in due course of time if it is found on evidence that their speech has any nexus with the riots”.
The cops in the affidavit also gave clean chit to themselves, telling the court that “no involvement of any police officials has been found” in rioting so far.