A Delhi court has ordered separation of trial of five accused, arrested in connection with a north-east Delhi riots case, based on their religion. Citing a 2002 Godhra riots case precedent, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav, who has been dealing with a majority of Delhi riots cases, split the “Salman murder case” into separate chargesheets for Kuldeep, Deepak Thakur and Deepak Yadav, and Mohd. Furkan and Mohd. Irshad. This, the judge said, was prompted by a “peculiar situation” arising owing to an “assortment of accused persons from different religions purportedly acting under two different conspiracies and unlawful assemblies”.
The segregation, he concluded while observing that there was enough material on record to allow framing of charges, would avoid prejudicing the defence of the accused. While the police say CCTV footage from the scene of crime at Shiv Vihar on February 27, 2020, captured the presence of the five accused indulging in riotous activity, all of them had pleaded “not guilty” and claimed trial.
The court directed DCP (Crime Branch) Joy N. Tirkey to furnish a complete set of chargesheets in physical form within two weeks while instructing the court staff to treat the existing chargesheet as the one for Kuldeep, Thakur and Yadav. The other one shall be treated as chargesheet for Furkan and Irshad.
The case FIR was registered on February 29, 2020 at Karawal Nagar police station after 24-year-old Salman died at the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital a couple of days earlier.
The deceased was admitted at the hospital on February 24 after reportedly suffering physical assault earlier in the day at Shiv Vihar during the north-east Delhi riots.
During investigation, it came to fore that Salman had sustained a gunshot injury. A firearm projectile was extracted from his head during post-mortem and seized as part of the investigation.
Both Yadav and Thakur were arrested in connection with the FIR on November 5, 2020, and have been in judicial custody since. Police say the duo were seen in two videos carrying sticks and actively participating in the riots. Both say there is “no direct evidence” against them pertaining to the murder and they have not been specifically named in the FIR either.
Kuldeep was initially arrested in another case, the Mohd. Anwar murder case, and arrested by the police for Salman’s murder on the basis of his disclosure statement. While the police say he could be clearly seen in CCTV footage amid a riotous mob, Kuldeep claims he has nothing to do with the alleged offence. He has been in judicial custody since March 21 last year.
Furkan and Irshad were also arrested in connection with another riots case and charged with the Salman murder on the basis of disclosure statements. The Delhi police say they were captured in CCTV footage from the scene of crime actively participating in the riots.
As in the case of the other three, both Furkan and Irshad claim they have been falsely implicated in the case merely on the basis of suspicion and there is no direct evidence against him.