‘Police following script in investigating riots case’

Riot victims at a relief camp in north-east Delhi’s Mustafabad.  

Nearly 1,000 people, including activists, filmmakers, former government officials and academics signed an open letter on Friday condemning the way the police has been investigating the riots that erupted in north-east Delhi in February.

Activists who are part of the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests hit out at the investigations, calling it a conspiracy instead of an attempt to probe a conspiracy.

The Delhi police spokesperson refused to comment on the allegations.

Speaking at an online press conference, activists Umar Khalid, Kawalpreet Kaur, Apoorvanand, Harsh Mander and Yogendra Yadav argued that a narrative of the riots as a conspiracy hatched by anti-CAA protesters had been set out by those close to the ruling dispensation before the start of the investigations and that the police was carrying out the probe along those lines.

All India Students’ Association (AISA) activist Ms. Kaur pointed to an allegedly faulty fact-finding report by “RSS-backed persons” submitted to Home Minister Amit Shah on March 11.

She said the report pointed a finger at student groups such as AISA and Pinjra Tod, and alleged that the report was later used as a “script” for the police’s probe.

Mr. Khalid questioned the legitimacy of ‘information’ tweeted by BJP social media head Amit Malviya that found its way into the police’s FIR — attributed to a “secret informer”.

The signatories argued that by targeting activists, the police was trying to cover up the role of BJP members such as Kapil Mishra, Union Minister Anurag Thakur, local leaders such as Jagdish Pradhan and others in instigating communal violence.

They argued the police was going after “exactly those people against whom hate speeches were made”.

The activists also questioned why the role of BJP men was not being probed despite reports surfacing on their conduct.

They highlighted a rally undertaken by Mr. Mishra in central Delhi in December 2019, calling for the ‘shooting of traitors’ and other instigating statements reportedly caught on camera, near the site of the riots.

Premeditated conclusions

The activists poked holes in the police’s probe, asking whether it was “a facade to arrive at premeditated conclusions already announced before the investigation had even commenced?”, referring to statements made by Mr. Shah in Parliament.

They further questioned why shootings near Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh were not accounted for in the police’s version.

They also questioned the police’s inability to identify personnel involved in the assault of four men, who were made to sing the National Anthem; the alleged custodial torture of Khalid Saifi; the lack of a probe into police involvement; the use of preventive detention acts against activists; among other parts of the investigation.

In the open letter, signatories such as filmmaker Aparna Sen; academics Ramchandra Guha, Zoya Hussain, Partha Chatterjee, Jayati Ghosh; former civil servants such as Wajajat Habibullah, Madhu Bhaduri; former chief of naval staff Admiral Ramdas, among several others demanded that “confessional statements not be coerced in order to manufacture evidence”, that people not be falsely implicated in the riots, and to stop invoking the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to “give the colour of conspiracy against the State”.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2020 4:56:21 AM |

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