Prominent activists demand ‘court monitored inquiry into Delhi Police investigation of Delhi violence

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Besides giving impunity to real perpetrators of anti- Muslim violence, Police went one step further in targeting students and activists who have been critical of the present regime

By Abdul Bari Masoud

New Delhi: Prominent activists Apoorvanand, Harsh Mander, Kawalpreet, Umar Khalid, and Yogendra Yadav questioned that the Delhi Police’s investigation into the North East Delhi violence and asking “is this an investigation into a “conspiracy” or is the investigation itself a conspiracy”?  They all were “implicated” in the Delhi violence cases who strongly demanded that a court monitored investigation or an inquiry into the Police investigation under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, by a sitting/retired judge(s) of the higher judiciary.

Referring to the Police’s passive role and impunity given to the culprits in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, they alleged that the Police have gone one step ahead as it has also started targeting the students and activists who have been critical of the regime.

Addressing a press conference via Video conferencing on Friday called in the backdrop of a continuing attempt by the Delhi Police to “falsely implicate” activists of the anti-CAA/NRC/NPR movements, they said over the past half year, the supporters and participants of these protests continue to be summoned by the police, harassed and subjected to long interrogations.

They also alleged the Delhi Police have been attempting to make anti- CAA activists as the “masterminds” of the brutal communal violence in parts of North-east Delhi in February that led to the death of 53 people, mostly Muslims and injured hundreds.

It is to be noted Umar Khalid sent a letter to the Delhi Police commissioner, with shocking evidence of the Delhi Police manufacturing evidence against him, through extorted statements who have been interrogated by the Police and seized his mobile phone.

Is this a desperate attempt by the police to buttress its conspiracy theory in the absence of any real credible evidence? They asked.

They also highlighted that several young activists and students also continue to languish in prison under the draconian anti-terror law – UAPA – for almost 6 months now, without any official charges framed against them.

“Despite inconsistencies and lies that have been rebutted publicly, the Delhi Police have continued unrelentingly with the theory – not coincidentally propounded by the ruling dispensation – that the roots of the conspiracy of the riots lie in the protests against CAA”.

Activists pointed out that on several occasions since December 2019, leaders and supporters of the BJP were seen inciting people to take the law into their own hands and making hate speeches.

“It would have been reasonable to expect any fair investigative agency to probe the impact such speeches had on the gradual breakdown of law and order in Delhi and subsequently its complete collapse in parts of North-East Delhi between 23-26 February.”

After all, the majority of targets of the Delhi violence – as pointed out even in the affidavit filed by the police in court – were Muslims, their livelihoods, properties and places of worship. But instead, the ‘investigation’ of the conspiracy behind the riots has chosen to target exactly those whom these hate speeches were made against – the participants and supporters of the protests against CAA/NRC/NPR.”

On more than one occasion, the police have tried to build a ‘chronology’ of events as part of this conspiracy. In this version, the conspiracy of these riots began with the anti-CAA protests in Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh in mid-December.

Laying bare the chronology made by the Police, activists said this ‘chronology’, is conspicuously silent on the actions and statements of leaders of the BJP and actual incidents of violence since December.

They asked a few pointed questions to the Delhi Police about which it has maintained evasive silence:

● On February 25, a statement was released by the Press Information Bureau, after Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a meeting attended by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. The statement said. “Shri Shah noted that the professional assessment is that the violence in the capital has been spontaneous.” However, just a few days later, the Home Minister contradicted his previous statement and stated in the Lok Sabha that the riots were a pre-planned conspiracy? This was even before any investigation had begun into the riots. Is the entire investigation just a façade to arrive at premeditated conclusions already announced before the investigation had even commenced?

● Why is the chronology by the police silent on the two incidents of shootings on protestors that happened in Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh on January29 and February1st?

Why is the chronology silent on the statements made by Anurag Thakur exhorting his supporters to shoot whom he considers as traitors on 27th January – just a few days before the two shooting incidents?

● Between December and February, BJP leader Kapil Mishra made several inciting statements asking people to shoot the ‘traitors’ in December 2019, calling the upcoming Delhi elections a battle between India and Pakistan in first week of February 2020, and also threatening in front of the DCP that his supporters will take the law into their own hands if the police does not clear the protestors.

● During the violence, multiple videos emerged of persons associated with the ruling dispensation openly inciting and participating in the violence and carnage. In one such video, which was streamed live on Facebook from Maujpur, a woman named Ragini Tiwari is seen openly asking people to kill or die. Why does her name not find any mention in the chronology of the ‘conspiracy’ put out by the Delhi Police? Reports have also surfaced accusing BJP leaders like Satya Pal Singh, Jagdish Pradhan, Nand Kishore Gujjar and Mohan Singh Bisht. Why has the police not taken cognizance of all this so far?

● A video showed officials of the Delhi Police assaulting four brutally injured men, and forcing them to chant the national anthem. One of them, 23 year old Faizan, subsequently succumbed to the injuries he sustained in this assault. Has the Delhi Police initiated any actions against its personnel who were involved in this assault that led to the death of one person?

● Have the police even taken cognizance of the brutal custodial torture meted out to one of the arrested persons Khalid Saifi?

● Have the police ordered any probe to several accounts where police allegedly were complicit in the violence, directing mobs pelting stones or looking the other way when mobs were indulging in violence in front of them?

● Many of those already arrested were initially in different FIRs. It was only after they secured bail in the cases for which they were initially arrested, that the police implicated them in the conspiracy case under UAPA. Is this a ploy to keep protestors in jail for long periods, without the need to provide evidence or frame charges? Why is a draconian anti-terror law like UAPA being used to probe this case?

● It has also come to our notice that the police have been coercing people it has summoned for questioning to give false statements. Is this a desperate attempt by the police to buttress its conspiracy theory in the absence of any real credible evidence?

● Confessions made in police custody have no value as evidence in deciding the guilt of anyone. But there has been more than one instance of ‘confessions’ of those arrested making their way to the press. This has been done despite a High Court ruling regarding one of the accused against such leakages of the details of the investigation to the press. Why are the police trying to prejudice public opinion against those arrested, even before it has officially framed any charges?

● In its latest line of questioning, the Delhi Police has been grilling people on their conversations in some Whatsapp groups with hundreds of members. Isn’t it ridiculous to believe that riots of this scale were conspired for several weeks in Whatsapp groups with hundreds of people and the police never got to know about them? Or is the police pursuing this line of argument in order to safeguard real culprits?

They said the impunity granted to the supporters of the ruling dispensation in the clear incitement to violence seems to be a repeat of the impunity that the Delhi Police have provided over decades to the political leaders who were involved in inciting and participating in the 1984 anti-Sikh genocide.

“However, this time, the Delhi Police seem to have gone one step ahead, and while providing impunity to the netas, it has started targeting the students and activists who have been critical of the regime.”

In the backdrop of anti-CAA peaceful movement across the country, this current witch-hunting of anti-CAA protesters is not only an attack on a few individuals but also a sinister profiling of the democratic mass movement, they added and reiterated that their opposition to CAA-NRC-NPR and shall continue peaceful and democratic protest against such anti-people laws.

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