An environment for violence was created before the riots broke out in the Capital in February, a recent report released by Citizens and Lawyers Initiative has stated.
The report, titled ‘Delhi Riots of February 2020: Causes, Fallout and Aftermath’, claims that the implementation of Citizenship Amendment Act and the protests that followed gave rise to hate speeches, “which stoked the flames of communal violence”.
‘Kapil Mishra’s speech’
“This culminated in the communally charged Delhi election campaign, which was eventually won by the Aam Aadmi Party without challenging the vitriolic content of its main Opposition. This gave rise to well-publicised gun-wielding vigilantes. The environment was as charged as a powder keg that just needed a spark to erupt. Kapil Mishra’s provocative speech in Jaffrabad, and the incendiary Facebook Live posts by Ragini Tiwari aka Janki Behen, appear to have had that effect; bolstered by rumour and misinformation on social media,” the report stated.
According to the report, “ambiguous” role of police, inaction, “selective” complicity with Hindu rioters, and other factors lead to the escalation. The report also stated that the violence had multiple aspects, including the strategic deployment of rampaging mobs, local vigilantism and social media playing a role in coordinating and mobilising attacks and spreading misinformation to incite.
“The failure of the law and order situation arose as a result of reported incidents of police partaking in the violence, providing tacit support to Hindu mobs, and failing to take appropriate action to staunch the loss of lives, livelihoods, and properties,” the report read.
Talking about the compensation offered by the government, the report stated that it was less than what was offered during the Muzaffarnagar riots and there were also gaps in what was promised and what was delivered.
Mentioning “political parallelism” in the investigation, the report claimed that the police put forward the narrative of the ruling party and that they chose to base their ‘analysis’ of the event on selective aspects of the witness statements “that conform to their existing narrative”.
The report recommended the formation of a multi-stakeholder accountability team to supervise the investigation, institute adequate rehabilitation package, publish an account of compensation promises and disbursed, conduct trust drives.
Former Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna, who presided over the Commission of Inquiry into 1992-93 Bombay riots, who has written the prologue of the report, said: “It is time that the State machinery and constitutional functionaries display greater seriousness in the investigation of the causes of such riots and take appropriate steps to prevent their recurrence”.