New Delhi: As protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) spilled over to the streets last month, the Delhi Police decided to film the demonstrations so that it could identify “rabble rousers and miscreants” through an Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS), a software it acquired in March 2018.
However, a month into such protests, investigations have revealed that the videographers may have failed to capture the faces of those protesters “turning violent and indulging in stone pelting”.
According to the Indian Express, a Delhi Police FIR claimed that videographers deployed to film the anti-CAA demonstration at the New Friends Colony on December 15 failed to capture the faces of those protestors who turned violent.
On December 15, the students of Jamia Millia Islamia and residents of the locality attempted to march to parliament. When they were stopped by the police at Mathura Road, a section of protesters started pelting stones at the forces. It was said that they also torched a few buses and private vehicles, prompting the police forces to lathi-charge and storm the campus. It attacked students at the library and even entered hostels to nab students.
Since then, criticisms against the police have only grown. Democratic groups have felt that the heavy-handed use of force against students was disproportionate. However, the Delhi Police has been justifying its use of force on students on the basis of the violence that broke at the New Friends Colony.
However, with videographers having failed to identify “miscreants”, the Delhi Police may now end up with little evidence to show that the protesters initiated violence or torched buses.
All Jamia violence cases were handed over to the special investigation team (SIT) last week. “The SIT was surprised to learn that there was not a single video or photo showing people pelting stones or setting buses on fire. There are some videos and photographs taken from people’s phones and police are now scanning footage of CCTV cameras in the area. They are also examining raw footage from TV channels,” police sources told the Indian Express.
“While scanning videos recorded by hired videographers, the SIT found that they have footage of protesters climbing police barricades. Videos also show injured police personnel and buses and private vehicles on fire, but not the culprits,” sources said.
The SIT, meanwhile, arrested three more persons on charges of damaging public property and rioting. “Mohammed Rana (35), Mohammed Haroon (36) and Mohammed Hamid (38) are residents of Taimoor Nagar and were arrested in separate cases,” a senior officer told the daily.
These arrests were made with the help of local police constables, who helped the SIT identify them through mobile phone videos. Police have so far arrested 16 persons in connection to the violence at Jamia Nagar and New Friends Colony on charges of rioting, damage to public property and assaulting police personnel.
“None of the men are students of the university,” an official said.