The Delhi police has informed the Delhi High Court that it has not been able to identify the officers who were seen in a viral video rounding up five Muslim youth and forcing them to sing the national anthem on February 24 last year.
The police made the statement in response to a petition filed by a 61-year-old Kismatun seeking constitution of 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.
Ms. Kismatun, in her petition, alleged that “the policemen kicked the five Muslim men with their boots, beat them and prodded them with their lathis and taunted them saying, ‘ Ye lo azaadi [Here, take freedom]’, and forced them to sing the national anthem while they were lying down, helpless in a grievously wounded condition”.
In a report filed before the court, the agency said it has taken on record four video clippings related to the incident. In the clips, persons in police uniform are seen assaulting Faizan and four others — Farhan, Kauser, Rafique and Wasim.
The police said that three clips are distantly shot videos in which the pictures of these persons are blurred and are not recognisable as they are wearing helmets and other safety gadgets except one person who is seen without a helmet.
However, his face is also not clear as this video clip too has been shot from distance and probably from a low-resolution mobile camera, the police’s report said.
The fourth video clip has a clear video, but faces of none of the policemen could also be seen in this video too as they are wearing helmets, police said adding that name plates of these policemen are also are not visible.
The agency said all the four video clips on record were referred to Forensic Science Laboratory for the purposes of enhancing the quality of the video clippings.
Meanwhile, till date around 170 policemen who were performing law and order duty at the place of incident on February 24, 2020 at the relevant time have already been examined or interrogated. The report also stated that as on date no eyewitness has come forward to corroborate the incident.
The report further stated that still images of the policemen assaulting Faizan developed from the above four videos available on record have been shared by private expert and these enhanced images have 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 has been focused on the shortlisted police personnel, the agency said.
The report said that during the investigation, the staff on duty during February 24 and 25, 2020 at Jyoti Nagar police station, including the Station House Officer, have been interrogated.
It said the Assistant Sub-Inspector, who was duly appointed as caretaker for taking care of Faizan, Rafique, Wasim and 18 other individuals, has also been examined. However, no one has mentioned any assault or ill-treatment of Faizan, while he remained in shelter at Jyoti Nagar police station, the report said.
In a supplementary status report, the police submitted that during investigation of the case, it found that the CCTV cameras of Jyoti Nagar police station were not working on February 24 due to some technical fault. The fault was rectified on March 4.
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 the police station around 11 p.m.”.
Faizan succumbed to his injuries the next day at the Lok Nayak 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 is now clear that the investigation conducted by the Crime Branch is a “sham, designed at shielding the guilty men in uniform, rather than investigating the crime”.
In August last year, the Amnesty International India in its report on the north-east Delhi riots had highlighted the death of Faizan. The NGO had said that he was allegedly detained by the police for close to 36 hours without any charge and then handed over to his mother after his condition deteriorated.