New Delhi: Launching a scathing attack on the Delhi Police, the Left parties on Monday said that the law enforcement agency failed to prevent the communal violence in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, alleging the ‘religious’ procession was armed, with several men carrying "swords, lathis and firearms".
In a letter to the Police Commissioner, Brinda Karat, CPI(M) polit bureau member and Delhi state secretary K M Tewari, wrote that "Video evidence aired on several television channels, along with eyewitness reports to our fact-finding team, is conclusive evidence that the procession taken out by members of the youth wing of the Bajrang Dal was armed, with several men carrying naked swords, lathis and also, shockingly, firearms.”
"These weapons were openly flaunted and brandished during the procession. The police have stated that the procession had police permission. Did the police give permission to carry arms? In fact, the processionists who carried arms had clearly violated the Arms Act, which has stringent provisions of imprisonment for such violations," the letter read.
The letter also said from the police commissioner's statements to the media, it was unclear whether those carrying arms during the procession were identified or not.
The CPI(M) leaders also said they have information that male police personnel raided houses in C block at night and "manhandled and beat up women".
However, the Delhi Police on Monday said it had registered an FIR against members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal for taking out a religious procession without permission in northwest Delhi's Jahangirpuri area where violent clashes broke out on April 16, according to a PTI report.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Northwest) Usha Rangnani said a case was registered under Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code, the report said, adding that
"The procession was taken out on Saturday evening without any permission and one person named Prem Sharma, Jila Sewa Pramukh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad has been arrested," she said, adding that further investigation is underway.
Later, Delhi Police officials said one Sonu Chikna had been arrested.
Left Parties’ Fact-Finding Team
A joint fact-finding team by the Left parties on Monday met the victims in the vicinity and said it “was pained to find that Delhi Police allowed mobs raising Jai Shri Ram slogans along with local MP and BJP leaders to address media persons in the precincts of a local police station.”
At the press conference here on Monday, Rajiv Kunwar, one of the members of team, said the local residents informed them a mob where “majority participants were wielding swords and local made pistols” had been doing the rounds in the area from the afternoon itself.
“The most shocking part remained that only two jeeps with four constables accompanied the Hanuman Jayanti procession where hundreds had gathered with sticks, guns and swords. We could not ascertain the exact cause of the rift but it is apparently clear that the mob reached C block mosque where members of the Muslim community were gathering to end their fast and offer prayers. A Muslim boy was pushed to the ground and subsequently a clash ensued.”
Kunwar said the local Muslim residents, who hail from Medinipur in West Bengal, complained that the police arrested them without fair investigation.
“First, we believed that it was a rumour. We considered that we should meet police officials. When we reached the local police station, we were shocked to find local MP Hans Raj Hans, BJP Delhi State Unit President Adesh Gupta and local councillors were addressing media persons in the premises of police station. A mob was raising slogans of Jai Shri Ram” there,” the locals told the team.
Kunwar said people living in the locality told the fact-finding team that there had not been a single incident of communal clashes for decades.
“Bengali Muslims have been living in Jahangirpuri since the inception of this resettlement colony, at least for four decades. They are mainly self-employed households involved in street vending, petty trade, selling of fish, waste collection etc. It is shocking that the BJP should term tham as “illegal” or describe them as Rohingya refugees. They are bonafide citizens of Delhi,” he added.
The delegation members alleged that the Jahangirpuri incident was part of the agenda of some ‘sangh parivar affiliates’ to use religious occasions and festivals to create communal tension.
“In the case of Delhi, it should be seen in conjunction with the earlier incidents. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation Mayor from BJP announced a ban on the sale of non-vegetarian food, ABVP tried to enforce vegetarian food in JNU and attacked those protested, Rajaram a caretaker of a farmhouse in Chhawla village was killed by cow vigilante’s alleging slaughter and to all this is the Jahangirpuri communal violence as the latest chapter,” he said.
Asha Sharma, a member of the delegation from CPI(M) said the victims hailed from working class families and the tense situation had resulted in loss of livelihood for few days now.
“We found that the members of Muslim community were engaged in several odd jobs including rag-picking, street vending, electricians etc. The rag pickers have been collecting and selling glass bottles for years. The state-sponsored media stood outside these shops and showed how the rioters collected bottles for clashes. It’s completely false and they are criminalising their work now,” she added.
CPI leader Dinesh Varshneya said the police should have revoked permission when it first noticed that the mob was armed with swords, guns and sticks. “The police manual clearly suggests that any permission should be revoked immediately if the participants carry blades longer than 5 inches. Only Sikhs are allowed to carry swords. Why did Delhi Police remain mute spectators,” he asked.
Ravi Rai, secretary, CPI (ML) Liberation, said the role of police should be thoroughly investigated.
“We are finding that police allowed three processions in the area; two in the afternoon and one in the evening when the Muslim community members were going to end the fast at mosque. The participants were wielding guns, sticks and sticks. It is beyond imagination that Delhi Police officials could not fathom the consequences of such provocative processions. When any protest is organised in Delhi to oppose law and order situations, the protesters land up in temporary jails within minutes whereas the processions were allowed for four hours and Delhi Police took no action,” Rai said.
AAP for Strict Punishment for ‘Those Involved’
The Aam Aadmi Party, which is running the Delhi government, on Monday said those involved in the violence during a Hanuman Jayanti procession in the national capital should be given the "strictest punishment" and Union Home Minister Amit Shah should take steps to improve the law and order situation in the city.
Replying to a question at a press conference, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the law and order situation in the national capital is not good. The Delhi Police functions under the Union Home Ministry.
In the backdrop of recent incidents of communal violence in other parts of the country, the senior AAP leader also said the BJP should ensure that the law and order situation was improved in all the states under its rule.
Asked about the BJP's allegation that one of the accused in the Jahangirpuri violence was associated with AAP, Jain said, "I think he must be linked to the BJP since the BJP knows what's the inside story."
In the same vein, the AAP leader, "What I am saying is that no matter which party he is associated with, he should be given the strictest punishment, double punishment."
Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta had on Sunday alleged that the violence in Jahangirpuri was the result of the AAP government aiding illegal stay of Rohingya and Bangladeshi immigrants.
The BJP leader had also alleged that one of the arrested accused
Meanwhile, Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana said 23 people from both the communities (the majority are from the Muslim community) have been arrested so far in connection with the Jahangirpuri violence, and refuted claims that attempts were made to hoist saffron flags at a mosque during the Hanuman Jayanti procession on Saturday.
During a media briefing, Asthana asserted that those involved in the violent clashes will not be spared irrespective of class, creed or religion.
(With inputs from PTI)