New Delhi: Former deputy commissioner of police, Northeast Delhi, Ved Prakash Surya, who was present alongside Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kapil Mishra when he made the controversial speech at a pro-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) rally on February 23 last year, just a day before riots broke out in the district, has now sent a request for consideration for the president’s police medal for gallantry, which is awarded for acts of “saving life and property” or “in preventing crime or arresting criminals”.
Surya’s role had come under a cloud as he was photographed standing by Mishra when he made the fiery and controversial speech at the Maujpur crossing, which many blame for triggering the riots which began the very next day, and led to the killing of 53 people, over two-thirds of them being Muslims, and injuries to over 400 others.
Mishra had subsequently tweeted a video of the speech in which he was heard saying, “The DCP is standing in front of us and on your behalf, I want to tell him that till the US President (Donald Trump) is in India, we are leaving the area peacefully. After that, we won’t listen to you (police) if the roads are not vacated (by the CAA protesters) by then. We will have to take to the streets.”
Incidentally, neither did Surya prevent Mishra from delivering the speech nor did he file any complaint against him in the matter.
Incidentally, neither did Surya prevent Mishra from delivering the speech nor did he file any complaint against him in the matter. In an interview to The Wire a few weeks later, Ajai Raj Sharma, a former Delhi Police Commissioner, said the DCP should have intervened but did not. He added that he would have immediately summoned Surya and asked for an explanation, and if it was not satisfactory, he would have suspended him.
In February 2021, Surya was posted to Rashtrapati Bhawan as DCP.
According to a report in the Indian Express, Surya along with 24 police officers, including joint commissioner of police, Alok Kumar, under whom he served, has put up his case for the award. Citing his role in the riots, Surya claimed that he saved several properties, lives of hundreds of people and performed “extraordinary” work during the riots.
The report said in his application Surya claimed to have controlled the riots within three to four days and mentioned his “courageous efforts in saving lives of hundreds of people”.
The news report also cited a senior police officer saying the proposal for awarding Surya and 24 other officers was sent from the district to the police headquarters, where it was put up before a committee of senior officers and finally approved by the Delhi police commissioner. The file would go to the home department and then the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for a final decision.
Incidentally, the role of Delhi Police in controlling the riots and punishing the culprits has been called into question by various civil society groups as also by legal experts. Various courts have also admonished the police for its handling of the situation and for botched up probes.
Despite that, then commissioner of Delhi Police, S.N. Shrivastava, had given out-of-turn promotion to four police personnel posted with the special cell for their work during the violence. These officers were part of the investigating team that arrested 21, including former JNU student Umar Khalid, Jamia Coordination Committee’s media coordinator Safoora Zargar and Pinjra Tod’s Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, linking their protests against the CAA to the riots, the news report said.
Srivastava had also revealed at the annual press conference of Delhi Police that a total of 755 FIRs were registered in connection with the riots. He insisted that the police “made it a point that no one had a grievance that their complaint was not acknowledged.”