New Delhi: A little past noon on February 25, a WhatsApp group called ‘Kattar Hindut Ekta’ – which loosely translates to “radical Hindu unity” – sprang into existence. Over the next 36 hours, members of the group killed nine Muslims in Bhagirathi Vihar in North East Delhi, according to one of the chargesheets filed by the Delhi police in cases linked to the February riots.
The members of the group have been accused by the police of identifying their targets by forcing them to chant “Jai Shri Ram”, the Hindu reported. Those who did not do as they were told were picked out and killed. The bodies of several victims were then thrown into a dirty drain that flows through the colony. In all, the group has been linked to the murder of nine Muslim men.
According to the chargesheets filed under FIR numbers 102, 103 and 104 at Gokulpuri police station, violence in Northeast Delhi between rioters and anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protesters resulted in the death of 51 people. In all, over 750 cases have been registered in connection with the riots and the murders.
Bodies of six out of nine dumped in Bhagirathi Vihar drain
The police said the murders of nine people took place in the Gokulpuri area on February 25 and 26. Out of these nine – Mursalin, Aas Mohammad, Musharraf, Amin, Bhure Ali and Hamza – were killed and their bodies were thrown into the drain near C Block of Bhagirathi Vihar. Three others – Akil Ahmed, Hashim Ali and his elder brother Amir Khan, were also killed by rioters.
The bodies were subsequently recovered from the drain and three Special Investigation Teams were constituted to investigate the murders.
According to the police report, one of the accused, Lokesh Solanki, sent a message to the “Kattar Hindut Ekta” group on February 25:
“Brother Lokesh Solanki this side from Ganga Vihar area if any Hindu need any back up then do contact. We have men, arms and ammunitions. I have just killed two Muslims in Bhagirathi Vihar area and thrown them in drain with the help of my team.”
The charge-sheet filed by SIT-III, which probed the killing of Hamza, has named nine people – all residents of Ganga Vihar and Bhagirathi Vihar as accused in these killings. Most of them are in the 18-23 year age-group.
The nine accused are Lokesh Solanki (19), Pankaj Sharma (31), Sumit Chaudhary (22), Ankit Chaudhary (23), Prince (22), Jatin Sharma (19), Rishab Chaudhary (20), Vivek Panchal (20), and Himanshu Thakur (19).
WhatsApp group was created to ‘avenge killing of Hindus’
The chargesheet has stated that during the investigation into the murders, it was revealed that this WhatsApp group – “Kattar Hindut Ekta” – was created at 12-49 pm on February 25, 2020. Initially there were 125 members in this group but out of them 47 exited it by March 8.
It added that the decision to form the “Kattar Hindut Ekta” group was taken on intervening night of February of 24 and 25 “to unite the maximum Hindus to take the revenge from Muslim rioters who were killing Hindus and destroying their properties by arson and setting their houses on fire”.
Members later assembled with ‘deadly weapons’
For carrying out violence against the Muslims, the chargesheet said, the group members collected “deadly weapons i.e. iron rods, lathi, sticks, danda, stones and arms/ammunition in their hands”. Some of them also covered their faces with cloth or wore helmets to prevent identification.
The police said on February 25 and 26, the accused gathered near Nala Road at Johripur Puliya in between Bhagirathi Vihar and Ganga Vihar and targeted Muslims. Citing eyewitnesses, the police said the mob shouted “Har Har Mahadev” and “Jai Shri Ram”.
Mob checked IDs, made passersby chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ repeatedly
The chargesheet filed in FIR No. 13 illustrated the modus operandi of the accused for identifying Muslims. It said: “Their modus operandi was, they used to catch the people and ascertain their religion by asking name, address and by their document i.e. identity card and they were forcing them to call “Jai Shri Ram” many times. The person who was not calling ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and carrying the identity of Muslim identity, they were bluntly attacked and thrown into the Main Ganda Nala, Bhagirathi Vihar, Delhi.”
The police said following the violence 12 members of the WhatsApp group were examined and joined the investigation. The contents of the group reveal how it was used for planning and executing violence in Bhagirathi Vihar and nearby areas.
From planning to hatred, messages reveal the mindset
The messages included those related to preparation like, “Bhai taiyaar raho, kaam start hone vala hai (brother stay prepared, work is about to start)” and even direct calls for violence against Muslims while using derogatory language – “Aane du in mullo ka suar bana denge” (Let them come, we will make them pigs). Both these messages are listed in the February 26 transcript of the records.
The messages shared on the group reveal how the members had planned to attack most of their targets at Jhoripur nala (drain), where the bodies were later found. There was also an exchange of messages on the group about the availability of weapons like pistols and ammunition, like the one shared at 11.42 pm on February 26 in which a person asked for bullets by posting: “Bhai goli h Kya 315 ki (brother do you have 315 caliber bullet)”.
Police urges court to view messages as ‘extra judicial confession’
The chargesheet also claimed that the WhatsApp chat between the ‘Kattar Hindut Ekta’ group members “clearly falls in the category of extra judicial confession”. The Delhi police have insisted that “these confessions have been done voluntarily by few of the accused persons” and urged the court to notice that “these confessions which are exactly at the time when the offenses were being committed.”
The Delhi police has also asserted that these “extra judicial confessions” were “further fortified” by eyewitness accounts, which fully establish the culpability of the accused persons. The circumstantial evidences, it added, collected during the investigation, form a chain of events.