New Delhi: The Crime Branch of the city police has drawn a “chronology” in the charge-sheet filed in the murder case of Intelligence Bureau (IB) staffer Ankit Sharma (FIR No. 65/2020 filed at Dayalpur police station), explaining the circumstances that led to a bloodied communal violence wherein over 50 were killed and hundreds suffered injuries in February this year.
The sequence of events titled “Chronology Of Events Leading To Riots In North-East, Delhi” clarifies that the cops are basing their probe on the narrative that the riots were engineered and executed by those who were protesting against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) under a “pre-planned conspiracy” and any violence from the other side was a retaliation.
Interestingly, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kapil Mishra, whose alleged provocative speech at Maujpur on February 23 was followed by violence, finds no mention in the “chronology”.
Mishra had organised a pro-CAA rally at Maujpur traffic signal, close to Jaffrabad metro station where at least 500 people had been staging a sit-in protest against the controversial legislation, which seeks to give Indian citizenship to all refugees of all faith — except Muslims — who have migrated from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan till 2014. The law was passed by both houses of Parliament in December last year.
Addressing a gathering, he had said, “They (protesters) want to create trouble in Delhi. That’s why they have closed the roads. That’s why they have created a riot-like situation here. We have not pelted any stone. Till the US President is in India, we are leaving the area peaceful. After that, we won’t listen to you (the police) if the roads are not vacated by then.”
Later, he had tweeted a video and written, “We have given a three-day ultimatum to the Delhi Police to get the road cleared. Get the Jafrabad and Chandbagh road cleared.”
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Hours after his incendiary speech, stone-pelting began between two groups at Maujpur Chowk and a full-fledged riot had erupted by evening in several neighbourhoods of Northeast Delhi. Maujpur was the epicentre of communal violence in the region.
But this hate speech is completely absent in the police’s “chronology”, which after mentioning the blocking of roads by anti-CAA protesters on February 22 and 23 goes to the outbreak of violence.
1. Incident of violence at Jamia Millia University Road on December 13, 2019.
2. Incident of violence at various roads of NFC (New Friend’s Colony) on December 15, 2019.
3. Incident of violence at Jamia Millia University on December 15, 2019.
4. Formation of a committee in the name of Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), comprising students and alumni Jamia Millia Islamia to keep the protest alive.
5. Shaheen Bagh protest since December 15, 2019.
6. “Systematic” encroachments and blockage of main roads in Northeast Delhi from January 15 to 26.
7. The blocking of road under Jafrabad Metro Station (66-Foota Road)
This is the crucial point where the police characterised the events of February 23 as the trigger for the violence, but kept mum on Kapil Mishra. The BJP leader made his speech on February 23, the day violence broke out in Northeast Delhi.
8. “Instances Showing Protestors had come with pre-determined for violence (sic)”. With this statement, the onus of the riots has been put entirely on the anti-CAA protesters.
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Events of February 23 as per the Charge-sheet
The charge-sheets describes the February 23 incidents in this way:
On 22.02.2020, at about 10:30- 11.00 PM, a crowd of about 1,000 persons, including about 400-500 women and children, in a well-orchestrated way, gathered and sat under Jafrabad Metro Station on main 66 Foota Road in response to a call of Bharat Bandh by Chandra Shekhar Azad @ Ravan of Bheem Army. The protestors were raising slogans against the government and had clogged the traffic at 66-Foota Road going from Seelampur T-Point towards Maujpur, Delhi.
On 23.02.2020, information was received that at 3.00 PM that some people demanding re-opening of carriage way of 66-Foot Road at the Jafrabad Metro station would assemble in Mauj Pur Chowk, which is about 750 meters from Jafrabad Metro Station. Thereafter, all residents from the areas of Jafrabad and Kardampuri (who had been supporting the blockage of the metro station) numbering in thousands gathered and started stone pelting from both sides on the crowd, which was demanding re-opening of carriage way of 66-Foota Road and the Jafrabad Metro station. The police intervened and dispersed the crowds on both sides by firing tear gas shells and lathi charge.
However, the situation continued to be volatile and tension started to spread to other areas like Welcome, Jafrabad, Dayalpur, Usmanpur, Bhajanpura, Gokalpuri and Khajuri Khas. Incidents of stone pelting were also reported from Sherpur Chowk and Chand Bagh by anti-CAA protesters. At 03.18 PM, a gathering of 1000 anti-CAA protesters tried to block the road at Seelampur T-Point.
By the morning of 23.02.2020, the gathering of protesters at Jafrabad Metro Station swelled to 2000/3000 as women and men of the surrounding areas kept joining the protest. In response the local crowd who was demanding re-opening of carriage way of 66-Foota Road and the Jafrabad Metro station had also gathered at Maujpur Chowk.
Besides, on 23.02.2020 itself at 12.29 PM, information was received that some AntiCAA protesters had blocked the road at B-Block Yamuna Vihar. The Anti-CAA protesters sitting on the slip road of Wazirabad Road, near Chand Bagh had blocked Wazirabad Road and that they are very aggressive.
On 24.02.2020 at about 12.30 PM, clashes between two communities started near Maujpur Chowk where both groups comprising of 5000/10000 people continuously indulged in heavy stone pelting. Even intermittent firing was reported. Crowds also gathered in the areas of Welcome, Bhajanpura, Jafrabad, Usmanpur, Kardampuri, Brahmpuri, Maujpur, Chand Bagh, Bhagirathi Vihar, Sherpur Chowk, Vijay Park etc. Gatherings of people to the tune of 500/1000 persons were reported from many of these areas.
Clashes started between opposite groups.“On 22.02.2020, at about 10:30- 11.00 PM, a crowd of about 1,000 persons, including about 400-500 women and children, in a well-orchestrated way, gathered and sat under Jafrabad Metro Station on main 66 Foota Road in response to a call of Bharat Bandh by Chandra Shekhar Azad @ Ravan of Bheem Army. The protestors were raising slogans against the government and had clogged the traffic at 66-Foota Road going from Seelampur T-Point towards Maujpur, Delhi.
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Mishra’s name is not at all mentioned in the charge-sheet despite the fact that when he was addressing a charged crowd, a DCP was present at the spot.
Instead of categorically mentioning his name, the charge-sheet vaguely refers to his gathering at Maujpur as “some people demanding reopening of carriage way of 66-Foot Road at the Jafrabad Metro station”.
Mentioning [or skipping] his presence and speech is extremely crucial because the charge-sheet itself says that the major clashes broke out on February 24 at Maujpur, the area where Mishra had made his speech.
Other crucial facts are also missing in the charge-sheet, which might have contributed to the violence. For instance, the sustained vilification campaign of Shaheen Bagh protesters, provocative, indecent and inflammatory speeches against the women protesters by several BJP leaders (MPs Parvesh Verma, Anurag Thakur and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath) including Union Home Minister Amit Shah ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections, bombardment of fake news on social media, among others.
What Court Had Said About Mishra
A plea was filed in the Delhi High Court, seeking lodging of FIRs and arrests of those involved in the communal violence at Northeast Delhi. During the hearing, a division bench of justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh had asked for Mishra's speech to be played in the courtroom.
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The court had asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Rajesh Deo if they had seen the video clip of Mishra making the alleged hate speeches.
In response, the solicitor general had told the court that he did not watch television and had not seen those clips, Deo said that he had watched the video of BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma, but had not seen that of Kapil Mishra.
Replying to this, Justice Muralidhar had remarked, “I am really amazed at the state of affairs of the Delhi Police” and had asked the court staff to play Mishra’s video clip in the courtroom.
Justice Muralidhar had directed the Delhi Police to take a decision on filing an FIR against Mishra for his remarks. But before the set deadline, he was transferred out.
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