Delhi riots: Amnesty India demands probe into claims of rights violation

Amnesty International India has demanded an independent investigation into all allegations of human rights violations by the police during the north-east Delhi riots.

The world’s largest human rights NGO said it has documented several videos showing the Delhi police “pelting stones with the rioters, torturing people, dismantling protest sites and being mute bystanders” as rioters wreaked havoc in the Capital.

A 20-page “investigative brief”, which was collated after the NGO interviewed more than 50 riot survivors, lawyers, activists and retired police officers, found the conduct of policemen in many incidents during the violence “a cause for concern”.

‘Hate speeches’

In the run-up to the Delhi Assembly polls on February 8, several political leaders delivered “hate speeches” against the anti-CAA protesters, portraying them as “anti-nationals” and inciting violence against them. “To date, the Delhi police have not taken any action against the perpetrators leading to a climate of widespread impunity,” Amnesty International India said.

The NGO interviewed several survivors who claimed they witnessed the violence break out right after BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s “ultimatum” speech. A majority of them claimed the police did not respond to multiple calls even as violence raged in the city from February 23 to 29, says the report.

Delhi Police PRO Eish Singhal said all cases of Delhi riots have been investigated as per law and in a professional manner. “The cases are sub judice,” he said.

‘Police complicity’

Amnesty International India has called for a fully independent and public inquiry to review the Delhi police’s role in “failing to prevent and aiding the north-east Delhi riots”.

In a video that went viral on social media, Delhi police officers can be seen kicking and hitting a group of five wounded men, poking them with rifles and asking them to sing the National Anthem on February 24.

“The video, however, does not reveal any such threat that may authorise the ill treatment meted out to the men by the police officers," the ogranisation said.

One of the men in the video, Faizan, 26, was allegedly detained by the police for close to 36 hours without any charge. He was handed over to his mother at 1 a.m. on February 26 after his condition deteriorated.

The police allegedly refused to give any paperwork to the family to show that he had been detained. His family members later admitted him to the Lok Nayak Hospital where he died on the same night.

Amnesty International India said, “Despite multiple video evidence, the Delhi police have denied that they tortured Faizan or unlawfully detained him.”

In a second video that was shot on the Khajuri Khas-Wazirabad road, policemen can be seen standing shoulder to shoulder with the rioters and allegedly pelting stones and tear gas shells as smoke emerges from a building that is under attack.

‘Harassment’ after riots

“The riot survivors have also maintained that the Delhi police intimidated and harassed many by unlawfully detaining them and forcing them to sign on blank papers,” the report said.

Lawyers representing the detainees have told Amnesty International India that the Delhi police blatantly violated the fair trial procedures by arresting people without producing arrest warrants and restricting their access to legal aid, including during interrogation.

The NGO has also documented a “disturbing pattern of torture and other ill treatment meted out to the riot survivors and detainees in police custody”. Most of them were Muslims, the NGO said.

“This ongoing state-sponsored impunity that the Delhi police enjoy sends across the message that the police can commit grave human rights violations and evade accountability,” said Avinash Kumar, executive director of Amnesty International India.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 4:27:48 AM |

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