The Delhi Police have informed the Delhi High Court that they have not been able to identify the policemen seen in a viral video rounding up five Muslim youth and forcing them to sing the national anthem on February 24, 2020.
The police made the statement in response to a petition filed by 61-year-old Kismatun seeking a court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe into the alleged custodial death of her son Faizan, 23, who was last seen in the viral video.
“The policemen kicked the five Muslim men with their boots, beat them and prodded them with their lathis and taunted them saying, ‘ Yeh loh azaadi (Here, take freedom)’, and forced them to sing the national anthem while they were lying down, helpless and in a grievously wounded condition,” Ms. Kismatun alleged.
Four video clippings related to the incident are on record. In the clips, people in police uniform are seen assaulting Faizan and other four others — Farhan, Kauser, Rafique and Wasim.
Police said that of the four clips, three were distantly shot videos, in which the pictures of the people were blurry and not recognisable as they were wearing helmets and other safety gadgets, except for one who was without helmet. However, that man’s face was also not clear as that video clip too had been shot from distance and probably from a low-resolution mobile camera, the police report said.
The fourth clip had a clear video, but the faces of none of the policemen could be seen, as they were wearing helmets, the police said, adding that the name plates of these policemen were also not visible.
The agency said all the four video clips on record were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for enhancing the quality.
170 policemen quizzed
Meanwhile, till date, around 170 policemen who were performing law and order duty at the place of incident on February 24, 2020, at the time of the incident had already been examined or interrogated. The report also stated that as on date no eyewitness had come forward to corroborate the incident.
The report further stated that still images of the policemen assaulting Faizan developed from the four videos had been shared by private experts and the enhanced images had further been shared with the in-charges of districts/units/outer force, whose personnel were performing law and order duty in the area.
Further investigation was focussed on the shortlisted police personnel, the force said.
The report said that during the investigation, the staff on duty during February 24 and 25, 2020 at Police Station Jyoti Nagar, including the Station House Officer, had been interrogated.
It said the Assistant Sub-Inspector who was appointed as caretaker for Faizan, Rafique, Wasim and 18 others had also been examined. However, no one mentioned any assault or ill-treatment of Faizan while he was at Jyoti Nagar Police Station, the report said.
In a supplementary status report, the police submitted that during investigation, it found that the CCTV cameras of the police station in Jyoti Nagar were not working on February 24 due to a technical fault.
Ms. Kismatun, in her petition filed through advocates Vrinda Grover and Soutik Banerjee, alleged that Faizan was in the “control and custody of the policemen from the time he was wrongfully confined and assaulted on February 24, till he was finally released in a precarious health condition on February 25 from Jyoti Nagar Police Station around 11 p.m.”
Faizan succumbed to his injuries the next day at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital.
While Faizan’s murder case was registered at the Bhajanpura police station on February 28, the investigation was later transferred to the Crime Branch of Delhi Police.
The plea claimed that with the passage of nine months, it was now clear that the investigation conducted by the Crime Branch was a “sham, designed at shielding the guilty men in uniform, rather than investigating the crime”.
In August 2020, Amnesty International India, in its report on the north-east Delhi riots, had highlighted the death of Faizan. The NGO said that he was allegedly detained by the police for close to 36 hours without any charges and then handed over to his mother after his condition deteriorated.