Nearly 2,000 People Were Brought in for Riots, Says Delhi Minorities Panel Chief

Most 'outsiders' stayed in schools for up to 24 hours before launching attacks, Zafarul Islam Khan said.

New Delhi: Nearly 1,500 to 2,000 outsiders were brought to north-east Delhi and lodged there for nearly 24 hours under a planned conspiracy to unleash violence, Delhi Commission for Minorities chairman Zafarul Islam Khan, alleged on Tuesday, following a visit to the affected areas.

He said most of these people stayed in schools before attacking the neighbourhoods.

Talking to The Wire about the findings of his team, which visited the areas impacted by violence on March 2, Khan said: “Our revelation is that this was planned violence. For this people had been brought from outside. It is for the police and intelligence to find from where they had come.”

He said the DCM team has obtained photographs of people who were involved in the violence and who were wearing masks or helmets. “There were approximately 1,500 to 2,000 people who had come to these areas from outside to create trouble,” he added.

Khan said the ‘outsiders’ had occupied some schools there for over 24 hours before launching the attacks. “These are the things we will talk about in detail in our report on yesterday’s visit. But our major fact finding report will come out later.”

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He said the minorities panel team had conducted the field tour in coordination with the police.

Curfew was imposed after panel appealed

Khan said ever since this violence began, the Commission has been raising the issue. “We have been issuing notices and orders, even in individual cases.”

As for the police, he said, “The day we had issued orders to the Delhi police to ensure security of the citizens, the same day curfew was imposed in many areas.”

On people’s complaint that it was the absence of police that encouraged the rioters and arsonists, Khan said it has now been established that police presence was minimal during the first two days – February 24 and 25 – when most of the violence took place.

‘Police allowed arson, rioting’

He charged that while the Delhi police is making claims that it has saved people, “They have not saved anything, they allowed properties and people to be burned, allowed the rioters to damage houses and even to blast them. This is what happened.”

“It was only after two days that the police became active. The violence lessened on February 26 and ended the following day. The police will have to answer for its acts – there are no two ways about this,” said Khan.

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He insisted that the Commission also facilitated the visit of other people to the affected area to give people a picture of the condition of residents there. “I wrote to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East District) to facilitate such travel.”

‘Sufficient food is available in area’

On people saying that there is no provision for milk and vegetables, Islam said there is hardly anyone left in the affected areas. “Most of them have run away from the colonies which witnessed massive violence. They are either staying with their relatives or have left for their villages. Some others are staying in government or private camps. The issue is not of food, there is adequate food which has reached these places. They now need actual relief and compensation to rebuild their homes and lives.”

Also, he said, many people would need assistance to again set up their shops and businesses. “The compensation which the government has announced is not sufficient. We have demanded that this amount be enhanced so that the affected people may be able to start their lives again.

People need funds to rebuild homes, businesses

On the charge that people are not being allowed to return to their homes, Islam said, “No one is stopping them but the problem is that most of the houses have been damaged or burnt. So what will they do there without any money. The houses are badly damaged, the walls and roofs are broken, and they are littered with rubble. There were very few houses which were not badly damaged.”

Islam said people would only be able to return once they will get a feeling of security. Secondly, they will need finances to fund the repairs of their homes, he said.

On why representatives of organisations like DCM and other rights agencies took time to reach the affected areas, he said, “In February 24 and 25 there was no question of security for anyone in the area. You did not know where a bullet or brick would come from. So it was only after that that rights groups began reaching the place.”