New Delhi: It’s over 20 days since communal violence gripped North-East Delhi. As the victims try stitching their lives back together and fill out compensation forms to find aid in relief centres, fear still stalks parts of the region as reports of Muslim youth being taken in for “questioning” by the Delhi police surface, without much clarity or a confirmed number of detainees.
The police has reportedly filed over 700 FIRs in connection with rioting and
destruction of public property. It has also reportedly made over 170 arrests. However, locals residents claim that the number could be higher and that Muslim youths are still being hauled up by the police.
No Clarity on Cases
“My 19-year-old brother was picked up. His phone was taken away and it was switched off. We were not informed. Someone from the area told us. He was let off a day later and was not given any food or water. This is still going on in many other areas. We do not know how many people are being taken in or what their status is. A lot of information that should be available to us, is unclear,” said Sheikh Muhammad, a resident of Khajuri Khas.
In this backdrop, there is a surge of local residents seeking legal. Speaking with NewsClick about the police’s alleged high-handedness, lawyer Hasib Siddiqui said: “We were dealing with cases of 10 people who were taken in from the Sri Ram colony area. Four of them were let off while the other six were sent to jail. We questioned the SHO over the picking up of Muslim youth without any basis. The police said that they are taking in people on the basis of video footage and evaded response.”
Some other residents alleged that no action was being taken against those in police custody. While their names have been scribbled on the boards in police stations, the arrested men are yet to be presented in front of the District Magistrate for further proceedings, they claimed.
Chandbi from Khajuri Khas said when they went to the police station: “We saw at least 32 names. Many of the people picked up by the police have been taken in but their cases are not being processed.”
‘Random, Arbitrary Targeting’
With several such reports coming in on a daily basis, volunteers on the ground are finding it hard to verify the actual figures. Chandbi alleged: “Everyday people are being taken in as they roam the streets, return from work or travel around in rickshaws around Khajuri and Sri Ram Colony. Such cases have also been reported from Gokulpuri and Bhajanpura. There has been a rise in such cases over the last weekend.”
Similar cases have been reported Mustafabad and Kardampuri, too.
A volunteer, on the condition of anonymity, spoke on the situation in Mustafabad. He said the pattern of the police picking up people was “very random and arbitrary in nature; my friend’s father was taken into custody as he had stepped out to buy something. He was picked up from the chowk without any procedure.”
Some volunteers alleged that many of those being taken in from Mustafabad were asked to sign on blank sheets of paper. In some cases, a document appreciating the Delhi Police is also being circulated. A volunteer said: “Many of those who have been taken in are being asked to give the names of other people as well and these names are essentially Muslim names. In one instance, the young boys were being shown a picture of a prominent protester from the Mustafabad site and was asked to spill out details.”
While questions are being raised over the Delhi Police’s role in not controlling the violence, questions are also being raised on the “disproportionate” number of arrests of Muslim youths. However, the police maintains that allegations of bias are false. A senior officer told The Wire, there was “no discrimination” and cited the fact that there are 82 Hindus among those arrested.