New Delhi: A group of 72 prominent and concerned citizens have accused the Delhi Police of not conducting a fair probe into the communal violence that claimed 53 lives in February this year.
Expressing dissatisfaction with the police investigation despite the constitution of three Special Investigation Teams (SIT), they have urged President Ram Nath Kovind to constitute a Commission of Inquiry “to ensure that justice is done and those who instigated and caused the violence are prosecuted”.
`Complaints against BJP leaders ignored’
The letter, in which the majority of signatories are former senior IAS and IFS officers, has also accused the police of not taking any action on complaints against leaders of the Bharatiya Janata party for the violence. Citing news reports, it said while there were “several complaints against the party leaders – Kapil Mishra, Satya Pal Singh, Jagdish Pradhan, Nand Kishore Gujjar and Mohan Singh Bisht – accusing them of participating in or orchestrating the violence” and the Delhi police was obligated to register an FIR, it did not do so.
Further, it expressed concern that “the Delhi Police has refused to put nearly 700 FIRs registered by it in the public domain”, saying it has “not even made a summary of the FIRs available to citizens” and this “thwarts all attempts at public scrutiny” of which complaints and allegations were being pursued and which were being made to languish.
Police complicity in violence
The letter, signed among others by former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah; former Central IC Shailesh Gandhi; civil rights activists Aruna Roy, Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey, Henri Tiphagne and Vipul Mudgal; journalist P. Sainath, academics Jayati Ghosh and Prabhat Patnaik, former Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed, and former IPS officers Julio Ribeiro and Shafi Alam, also highlighted instances of police complicity in the violence in detail.
Supporting its claims with links to various news reports, the letter cited how an instance of “police complicity” was caught on video near the Maujpur metro station. It showed uniformed policemen assaulting an injured youth – later identified as 23-year-old Faizan – who was lying on the road. He succumbed to his injuries a few days later.
The letter regretted that the Delhi police did not try to identify the policemen involved and in fact the FIR made no mention of the video footage of the police assault.
No action on complaints against police officials
The letter also stated that while “at least one deputy commissioner, two additional commissioners and two station house officers of the Delhi Police participated in criminal intimidation, unprovoked firing, arson and looting during the violence that swept northeast Delhi in late February, according to complaints filed by eyewitnesses,” no FIR has been registered against them.
Without naming Kapil Mishra and DCP North East Ved Prakash Surya, the letter also questioned why the police have not “acted against the DCP who mutely stood next to a BJP leader who was instigating violence against Ved the protestors warning them that if they did not vacate the area, he would do it himself.”
People tortured in police custody after riots
The concerned citizens have also raised the issue of “custodial torture”. Citing examples of police assault and torture in custody, the letter said, Khalid Saifi could be seen walking with no injuries when he was picked up by the police from Khureji on February 26 but both his legs were fractured when he was produced before the magistrate.
Police trying to criminalise dissent and protests
The letter also accused the police of criminalising dissent and protest. It said the Delhi Police was “pursuing a line of inquiry criminalising the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)”. Holding out that the protests against CAA, National Population Register and National Register of Citizens were legitimate and in keeping with the long history of “blocking of roads or chakka jam” as an instrument of protest, it said presenting these as part of a conspiracy was “completely unwarranted.”
The letter also accused the police of filing FIRs with the Crime Branch to “carry out a fishing and roving inquiry against young persons including students and social activists who were involved with the protests.”
Read the full letter below.