Residents of Jamia Nagar and human rights activists held a protest under the aegis of the Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association outside the Delhi Police Headquarters near ITO here on Monday against what they termed as a “communal witch-hunt unleashed by the police”.

Accusing the police of indulging in communal profiling in the area, the protesters said incidents of the past few days have revealed that whenever they were in need of “showing results”, they would turn to Jamia Nagar. A Special Staff team had recently questioned two young men on suspicion of their involvement in auto-theft cases, sparking off a protest by the locals.

In another incident reported this past week, a Bangladesh Cell team from South Delhi raided a house in Batla House in the dead of night and were trying to take them away in a police van when, woken up by the commotion, the residents confronted them.

“They tried to round up poor workers from Kishanganj and Darbhanga in Bihar, suspecting them of being illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Even though they produced their voter identity cards and other documents to prove that they were Indian nationals, the police forced them into their vehicle. They would have ended up in jail had it not been for the vigilance of area residents, who came to their rescue and raised an alarm,” said an Association member.

Akhlak Ahmad of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights, who participated in the protest, said incidents like these lowered the credibility of the police as a defender of law-abiding citizens.

“The police are there to create a sense of security and not of fear among the citizens,” he added.

Following a complaint lodged by the victims, eight policemen were placed under suspension pending inquiry.

The JTSA said recent incidents had made it amply clear that the police were indulging in communal profiling. “It is also being made out that the local police are innocent and that the only crime the Bangladesh Cell or the Special Staff committed was that they did not inform the local police. However, the local police are themselves guilty of resorting to similar tactics,” it said.

The Association said last week, two Jamia students were made to submit their fingerprints which were then fed into the police computer records.

The reason given was that the police were investigating an auto-theft case and needed to show that they had actually done some investigation. Since the fingerprints of these students did not match with the police records, the police reassured them that they need not bother.

The JTSA said given the history of innocent people being framed by the police, the boys feared that they would meet the same fate one day, now that their fingerprints are with the police.

“Is this how the police conduct their investigations? Whether it is an auto-theft or a terror attack, shoddiness in investigations is the hallmark of the police,” said the Association representatives.