Constitution Conduct Group and Karwan-e-Mohabbat holds third commemoration of Delhi violence

(L-R) Harsh Mander, Avinash Kumar, Najeeb Jung, Apoorvanand, ND Pancholi and Pamela Phillipose at the event

By Muslim Mirror Network

Constitution Conduct Group and Karwan-e-Mohabbat held a commemoration ceremony on Saturday marking three years of the violence in Delhi in February, 2020 in the presence of victim and survivor families.

The event began with a welcome address by Deb Mukharji from Constituion Conduct Group and Navsharan Singh, from Karwan-e-Mohabbat. Deb Mukharji underlined the importance of accountability on the criminal justice system, administration and government agencies. These divert our attention from the suffering the victims experienced. Emphasising the importance of empathy, he welcomed the families, reminding those present to remember the victims and their loved ones.

Navsharan Singh, spoke of how this was a planned and a systematic attack which made people refugees in their own country; she emphasised the need for collective action as we move forward in our fight for justice.

Testimonies of survivors documenting their narratives of the violence and their lives since then were also screened.

Advocate Shamshad presented the findings of the Delhi Minority Commission Report and remarked that the functioning of the criminal justice system has been grossly inefficient. He noted that there has been delay and manipulation in registering FIRs and that the investigation agencies have failed in upholding fair conduct. Since the last three years, many FIRs are just lying with the police and local courts are not always effective in dispensing justice.

Gopal Pillai, former Secretary Home, Government of India, in a recorded video, spoke briefly about the findings of the Citizens Committee Report on the North East Delhi Violence. He stated that it was the deliberate stance of the central government and the Delhi Police to allow hate speeches over the three days and to not attempt to control the violence. He also noted that the use of UAPA is completely unjustified.

Brinda Karat, activist and politician, spoke of her experience of working with the persons affected in North East Delhi. She briefly summarised the report compiled by a Fact-Finding Committee led by her. She noted, “What happened in Delhi was a planned, state-backed violence orchestrated against the minority community; it was a one-sided attack carried out with a political agenda.” She also remarked about the active role played by the union Home Ministry and the Delhi Police in enabling and furthering the violence. She spoke about the riot-affected women and the violence unleashed on Muslim women specifically where they had set up anti-CAA camps. She stated that the actions and the inaction of the state must be seen in light of the approaching elections.

CU Singh, in a recorded video, summarised the findings of his report and mentioned that during the violence, “one community was disproportionately affected.” He noted that relief camps set up during that time were full of mostly Muslim families that were displaced and attacked. He claimed that violence was carried out by the ruling party almost as an act of revenge against one community after losing the state elections.

A film by team Karwan e Mohabbat, titled ‘Nafrat ki Aandhi mein Roshni ka Chirag’ (Lamps amidst storms of hate) was screened which showcased stories of courage and compassion during the time of the violence. It was a tribute to the people who saved lives and shrines during the Delhi 2020 violence.

The main findings of the report, ‘The Absent State: Recompense to the Survivors of the Delhi 2020 Communal Violence’ by team Karwan e Mohabbat, were presented by human rights worker Dr. Harsh Mander. He highlighted that while various reports available in the public domain have alerted us to the failures of the state, inadequacy of its response and police complicity in the riots, this report concentrates on the idea of reparations. He stated that reparations have been historically neglected in India; that the official records of reparation present a particularly grim picture in Delhi even when compared with the token measures announced in previous riots. The broad findings can be summed up as follows:

1. On Rescue – There were literally thousands of calls being made for rescue that went unanswered which compelled them to seek judicial intervention at midnight for initiating rescue efforts, including ensuring the safe passage of ambulances. The state was absent in mounting rescue until pressure from the civil society and courts.

2. On Relief – There was no significant state initiative to establish relief camps, with essential services, beginning with safety, basic lodging, food, clothes, sanitation, and survival expenses; first-aid and trauma counselling, and assistance to file police complaints. The government announced relief money but mandatorily demanded FIRs for disbursing the same and people were faced with a simultaneous reluctance by the police to file those FIRs. At the time medical relief was being sought, a lot of people are permanently disabled, people were treated in a biased manner which furthered their trauma.

3. On Compensation – Compensation was low with the stated amounts being treated as upper limits regardless of the amount of losses faced. The assessment process of the claims commission remains incomplete three years after the riots, and actual disbursement of compensation based on their assessment unconscionably low. The functioning of public office has been opaque with no mechanism for the survivors to engage. There has been no central government scheme for compensation and rehabilitation announced to date.

Some of the speakers responded to the findings of the report.

Aditi Mehta, ex-IAS officer, noted that just like Godhra riots this was not a failure of the state, it was a successfully planned riot by the administration.

Anjali Bharadwaj, activist working towards accountability and transparency, stated that contrary to what is said it was not a spontaneous riot, it was a pogrom. The police did not want to take efforts to stop the riot and that is exactly what they did. She also noted that the we need a stronger framework for accounrtability and continue asking questions.

Prashant Bhushan, activist and a lawyer, noted the report is suggestive of comprehensive failure of the system. That with the rising number of cases where people from minorities are being killed by gau rakshaks, their houses are being bulldozed, justice seems to be nowhere in the picture. In times like this we all need to stand together fearlessly and work towards justice.

The Chief Guest Justice Madan Lokur summed up his address by holding the police accountable for its inaction to speeches in response to anti-CAA protests that already alerted us to a riot like situation. As well as inaction at the time of the riots when people were continuously making calls and sending messages. The riots could have been controlled within 24 hours if the police wanted. Houses were burnt because the police did not intervene. Finally, he underlined the importance of ensuring the disbursement of compensation, ease in filing for compensation, and medical assistance.

This was followed by a panel discussion moderated by advocate Suroor Mander comprising of the young social workers and lawyers who have been engaging with the victims in the last three years. Panelists noted the loopholes in the administration’s interventions in rescue, relief and compensation. They discussed the difficulties families have to face in order to access fair compensation from the NEDRCC. They also spoke of the plight of the injured victims and mistreatment and neglect at the hand of medical practitioners.

A final session included observations from Professor Apoorvanand, former head of Amnesty International India Avinash Kumar, retired LG of Delhi Najeeb Jung, senior advocate N.D Pancholi and veteran journalist Pamela Phillipose. They expressed their solidarity to the survivors and their families and spoke of the violence being connected with the vision of the RSS and the BJP. They made a plea to citizens to voice their concerns peacefully until it is too late.

The event concluded with the Karwan film, Mazhab.


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