Rights

Delhi Riots: Man Who 'Named' Pinjra Tod Activists in Confession Says He Doesn't Know Them

The mechanic has said that he was almost entirely blinded in the violence and was made to sign a confession he could not read.

New Delhi: A 24-year-old car mechanic, Shahrukh Khan, who had been charged by Delhi police for rioting and murder during the northeast Delhi violence in February has said that he has not even heard of Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita or Natasha Narwal, who are also charged with involvement in the violence. Khan’s claim is noteworthy because Delhi police has said that he named Kalita and Narwal in his confessional statement.

Khan, who was severely injured in the riot and has completely lost vision in one eye and 90% vision in the other eye, has, according to the police, was interviewed by The Hindu.

Khan is one of the accused named in the Jafrabad riot case, in which an 18-year-old boy, Amaan, was killed. Khan is one of the 12 persons named by the police and a chargesheet was filed in the case on June 2.

Khan, in his interview to the newspaper, has said that on the day of the incident, he had a weekly off and around afternoon, he had stepped out. “I started walking, saw a funeral procession, and started walking with them. I reached Jafrabad, in the vicinity of a school. When stone pelting started from the opposite side and many others from our side retaliated, I too joined in,” he told The Hindu.

Also read: Delhi Violence: Man Looted by Rioters Now Being Threatened to Withdraw Complaint

According to his quotes in the interview, Khan was hit by bullet shards and fell on the road, after which he was first rushed by locals to a hospital nearby and next, to Lok Nayak Hospital. From there, he was referred to Guru Nanak Eye Centre, where he was treated for 4-5 days. Khan lost an eye and was almost blinded in his other eye too in the attack.

Khan and his family allege that he was brutalised by the police and were made to pay Rs 10,000 to them just to ensure he was not beaten during his interrogation.

Also watch: ‘India’s 23-Year-Old Failure to Ratify UN Convention Against Torture is Shameful’

In a confession statement purportedly obtained from Khan, the police claim that he named Mohammed Faizan, Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, Suhasini, Gul, and others as having been involved in the incident. Khan and his family have denied this.

He said that the police made him sign a statement which he couldn’t read as he had almost been blinded and his mother, who was with him, is illiterate. “We don’t know what they wrote in it,” he said.

This isn’t just a one-off example in which the confessional statements recorded by the Delhi police in the riot cases of February show discrepancies. The Indian Express has accessed around 12 such statements, among which nine are almost identical.  The statements recorded under section 161 of the CrPC have been attached to a brutal murder case of 20-year-old waiter Dilbar Negi. Negi was killed on February 26 in the Delhi riots and his body was found mutilated and charred in Anil Sweets in Shiv Vihar, the shop where he had worked.

Also read: Health Workers, Activists Condemn Charges Against Hospital Owner in Delhi Riots Case

The Indian Express report has noted several identical confessions. Consider, for example, the commonalities in the confessional statements of Azad (24), Rashid/Monu (20), Ashraf Ali (29) and Mohd Faizal (20) related to the Seelampur riots:

Azad, in his confessional statement has reportedly said, “In the last few days, there were protests against CAA and NRC; my friends told me those who don’t have evidence (to prove citizenship) will be evicted from the country. On the basis of this, on 24 February, in Seelampur, riots had begun; and slowly it spread across Jamnapar. At around 2-3 pm, many people started gathering at Shiv Vihar Tiraha and started pelting stones at Hindu houses. Hindus also started pelting stones at us; this went on for quite a long time.”

Similar lines are repeated by Monu too, according to the chargesheet, The Indian Express report points out. Similar patterns are found in the “statements of other accused Mohammed Shoeb (22) and  Shahrukh (24) related to Jafrabad riots,” the report states.