Judicial Inquiry Needed on Delhi Police's Riots Probe, Opposition Leaders Tell President

A delegation of opposition leaders has questioned the Delhi Police's own actions during the riots and the way the investigation has progressed.

New Delhi: Underlining the alleged complicity of the Delhi Police in the communal riots that shook the north-east regions of the national capital in February, a delegation of political leaders who met President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday called for a judicial inquiry into the ongoing probe into the riots. The group also raised serious questions about the conduct of the Special Investigation Teams (SIT) set up by the Delhi Police.

In its memorandum to the president, the delegation – comprising Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India’s D. Raja, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Kanimozhi, Congress leader Ahmed Patel and Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Manoj Kumar Jha – said, “There are…serious questions about the role played by the Delhi police itself during the violence and also the manner in which the Police is harassing and attempting to falsely implicate activists and young people who took part in the anti-CAA/NRC/NPR movements as the perpetrators of violence.”

The letter also said that such is the Delhi Police’s “conspiracy” that it has dragged even Yechury, “the general secretary of CPI (M), a national political party and a parliamentarian of long standing repute”, and multiple intellectuals, academics and activists into the investigation as persons who had a possible role in fomenting violence.

Also read: ‘Delhi Police’s Riots Investigation a Third Wave of Violence After Mob Lynchings and Riots’

The leaders hit out at the Delhi Police’s own role in the February riots. “There are several publicly documented accounts and videos of police being complicit in the violence, directing mobs, pelting stones, or looking the other way when mobs were indulging in violence,” the letter said, while pointing out at the video in which a 23-year-old Muslim man, Faizan, and three others were brutally assaulted by four uniformed men who forced them to sing the national anthem. Faizan succumbed to his injuries days later.

“In another incident, a DCP stood mutely next to a BJP leader who was instigating violence…,” the leaders said, highlighting the much talked about provocative speech by saffron party leader Kapil Mishra against the anti-CAA protestors, a day ahead before the communal violence broke. They pointed out that despite repeated complaints, no case has been lodged by the Delhi Police against Mishra.

The letter underscored how a prominent anti-CAA activist, Khalid Saifi, was tortured in prison and had several injuries on both his legs before he was produced in front of the magistrate.

“The notable silence in the chargesheets on the role of leaders associated with the BJP, who gave inflammatory speeches, raises serious concerns about the impartiality of the probe,” the letter said, naming BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Satyapal Singh, Nand Kishore Gujjar, Jagdish Pradhan and Mohan Singh Bisht whose names have figured in various complaints as alleged participants or orchestrators of the riots, but no action has been initiated against them by the Delhi Police.

They also said that the Delhi Police’s drift could be understood from the special commissioner’s recent order in which he instructed his officers to exercise restraint while arresting Hindu youth as he seemed to think that there was a “degree of resentment in the Hindu community” regarding arrests of some Hindu youth in the riot-hit areas.

Taking aim at the Union home minister, the leaders said that the entire Delhi Police probe, which rests on the argument that the riots were perpetuated by anti-CAA protestors, “appears to be aimed at arriving at a premeditated theory about a conspiracy propounded by the Home Minister in Lok Sabha in March 2020, before any investigation has even begun into the riots.”

Watch: ‘Surprised Delhi Police Hasn’t Filed a Case Against Kapil Mishra’: Ex Top Cop Julio Ribeiro

The leaders further said that the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is being used by the police to conduct a “fishing and roving inquiry” against activists and young persons who participated in the anti-CAA movement, adding that the police has used coercive tactics and fabricated evidence to build its conspiracy case. They said that the manner in which the probe has taken place until now was an attempt to “influence public opinion and malign them (the activists and leaders)”.

“We, therefore, urge you to call upon the Government of India to institute an inquiry into this investigation under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 headed by sitting/retired judge(s),” the memorandum said.