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270 Eminent Citizens Write to Delhi CM Seeking 'Independent Probe' into February Riots

File photo of security forces patrolling a riot-affected area following clashes in Northeast Delhi in February. (Reuters)

File photo of security forces patrolling a riot-affected area following clashes in Northeast Delhi in February. (Reuters)

They alleged the "manufactured" investigation by the Delhi police is in sharp contrast to the report and recommendations of the Delhi Minority Commission.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: July 28, 2020, 10:49 PM IST
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Around 270 eminent citizens of Delhi, including professionals and politicians, have written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for an "independent investigation" by a retired judge into the communal riots in February this year.

They alleged the "manufactured" investigation by the Delhi police is in sharp contrast to the report and recommendations of the Delhi Minority Commission.

The signatories, who include Air Vice Marshal (Retd) NI Razzaqui, former Foreign Secretary Muchkund Dubey, former National Commission for Minorities Chairperson Wajahat Habibullah, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat and social activist Harsh Mander, said they were writing "to express our grave disquiet and concern about the unfair, unjust, one sided and manufactured 'investigation' by the Delhi police, the crime branch and the special police into the communal violence in north-east Delhi".

"We write to request you to order an independent investigation under a retired judge of suitable stature with a time-bound mandate. The terms of reference should include various aspects of the violence," they said in letter to Kejriwal.

Other signatories to the letter include senior journalists HK Dua and Mrinal Pande, former planning commission member Sayeda Hameed, former vice chancellor of Ambedkar University Shyam Menon, author Githa Hariharan, activist Swami Agnivesh, JNU professors Prabhat Patnaik and Jayati Ghosh.

The letter has come out on a day the AAP government rejected a panel of lawyers proposed by Delhi police to argue the riot cases in the Supreme Court and the high court, saying it would not help a "free and fair" trial of the riots in north-east Delhi.

They listed out the recommendations of the Delhi Minority Commission and alleged the version of events reported by the DMC is in "total contrast" and "variance" with the claims made by Delhi police. The signatories urged the state government to accept the recommendation of the commission to set up an independent inquiry.

The letter also questioned the role of Delhi police and the fact that it came directly under the Home Ministry. "There is a clear conflict of interest between getting to the truth and defending the leaders of the ruling party at the Centre. Several BJP leaders including ministers in the Central government, MPs and other leaders like Kapil Mishra had made hate speeches but not a single FIR has been filed.

"On the contrary, the Delhi police have officially declared that such speeches which sow enmity between two communities and incite violence are not 'cognizable offences', the letter said, adding that an independent inquiry would help to pin down the role of different political functionaries.

Accusing the Delhi police of "implementing a political agenda of concealing the role of BJP leaders" in the violence, the signatories said that this was one of the reasons for demanding an independent probe. They said an independent probe will also reveal the culpability of the police in the violence.

"In such cases in the past there have usually been independent inquiries set up by the state government concerned. It is true that in Delhi because of the various constraints imposed by the present centralized structure under the lieutenant governor answerable to the Central government, there are problems faced by the state government. "However, under the present constitutional framework, the state government has every right and the powers to institute such an inquiry. Therefore, we reiterate and urge you to set up an independent and time-bound inquiry into the communal violence in north-east Delhi. This will go a long way in restoring the confidence that justice will be done," the letter added.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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