The chairperson of Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC)’s fact-finding report on communal violence in North East Delhi has slammed the police for allegedly “engaging in direct violence, including physical assault and abuse”, for being either mute spectators or, in some cases, even alleged participants” in the violence, and for its “failure to prevent violence,” which it said, “was not due to individual or sporadic breaches, but was a pattern of deliberate inaction over several days.”
The report also slammed the chargesheets filed by Delhi police for being “biased in nature”, for its “shoddy” investigation, in the course of which it allegedly ignored incendiary speeches made by BJP leaders like Kapil Mishra.
“Non-registration of FIRs or delayed action on complaints naming the accused of riots, loot, arson and murder has led to no investigation in many crucial cases. Cases like the shooting from Mohan Nursing Home, instigating and inflammatory statements of Shri Kapil Mishra, have not been registered despite High Court’s observation,” the chairperson of the DMC fact-finding committee, MR Shamshad, said in his introductory remarks.
He said, “Partisanship and bias on the part of the police and government have led to the abject failure of duty and of the law and order machinery in the Capital of India. Investigations have purposefully been misdirected to change the narrative of the cause of the violence that erupted in the North-East district of Delhi.”
Shamshad alleged collusion between the “administration and police” in triggering a large-scale violence with the objective of crushing the peaceful protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
He said, “The same discriminatory bias and hate became the reason for the minorities to take a lead in the protests against the discriminatory CAA. The protests were legitimate and peaceful. Seemingly, to crush the protests, with support of the Administration and Police, a retaliatory plan of pro-CAA protesters was worked out to trigger violence at a large scale which led to loss of lives and damage to hundreds of properties owned mainly by the Muslim religious minority.”
The fact-finding report also criticised the chargesheets filed by the Delhi Police. “Crucial aspects of the entire chain of events are missing from most of the chargesheets that have been filed till date.” The fact-finding report goes on to state –
“In most cases, chargesheets have been filed by police first against Muslim accused and the entire narrative has been changed to one of violence on both sides rather than a pogrom that was in fact carried out. This is a serious issue of changing public perception by attributing the riots to CAA protestors in general and Muslims, in particular. This reflects injustice and partisan bias in the system which is neither good for a democratic system nor for our nation as whole.”
The report attempts to point out flaws in the sequence of events as claimed by Delhi Police that led up to the communal riots in which over 50 people lost their lives.
“Almost all the North East Delhi violence-related cases that Police are investigating are based on the premise that riots were planned by anti-CAA protesters to coincide with the US President Donald Trump’s visit to India in the third week of February. The first reference to the forthcoming Trump visit was published in India on 13 January while the alleged meeting of the “conspirators” is claimed by police to have been held on 8 January 2020,” it said.
The report also highlighted testimonies of several women from the Chand Bagh area, one of the worst-affected areas by communal violence, who “described how they were attacked by the police… Police forces attacked women at the protest site, and later did not provide any help or support when the mob attacked the protesters in the same area. These physical attacks on women were carried out by male police officers. Several women suffered grievous injuries.”
According to the testimony of a Muslim woman who was pregnant at the time of violence, she “received 35 stitches after being hit by the police at the Chand Bagh protest site”.
“Police started attacking the protesters who were at Chand Bagh and they brutally beat up a few men who were also present at the protest site…Women also stated that it was the police who started the violence at Chand Bagh. The protesters were peacefully sitting there, and it was after the police attacked that the mob also gathered. In that tumult, several women were injured,” the report said.
The report also carried a detailed testimony of a woman who claimed to have been "witness to the police dragging a 12-13-year-old girl". She alleged the policemen flashed their genitals towards the women.
The eyewitness added that she tried to protect the child who was being dragged away "but failed as she was hit on the head by a stone and she subsequently fainted.
When she regained consciousness, she saw that there were many injured women around. The crowd of the rioters continuously kept abusing them. She recounts that it was then that the police pulled their pants down and pointed their genitals towards the women stating that they wanted “freedom” and they were there to give them “freedom” and that this was their “freedom”."
Delhi Police Additional PRO Anil Mittal said, "We have not received any report from the Delhi Minorities Commission so far".
He said a majority of the cases were registered on the complaint of people from the minority community. "Delhi Police maintains that all cases are being investigated in a fair and professional manner," said Mittal.
Mittal added the Delhi Police has rather encouraged people to come forward and lodge their complaints. Wide advertisements were also issued in newspapers in this regard, he said.
The police officer said three Special Investigation Teams were also formed to investigate the cases of murder."A special court and special prosecutor have also been appointed to look into the cases," he said. Besides, a claim commissioner has also been appointed look into damage estimate and recovery, he said.
(With inputs from PTI)