The Delhi Police have filed over 80 charge sheets in connection with the February 2020 Delhi Riots in which 53 people were killed, of whom 38 were Muslims. Serious doubts have been raised on the credibility of the probe after charge sheets and evidence presented by the Police revealed clear discrepancies, contradictions, glaring errors and partisan approach. Moreover, the charge sheets appear to push the main narrative as one involving provocation by the Muslims and retaliation by the Hindus “at the peak of rioting” in response. Muslims and their properties were disproportionately targeted. Fourteen mosques and a dargah were also destroyed. “How is this possible? A vast majority of those killed are Muslims. The places of worship that have been destroyed belong to Muslims. So how can anyone say that the violence was caused by Muslims,” said senior advocate Mehmood Pracha, who is handling many of the Delhi violence cases.
If one clearly remembers, the riots took place against the backdrop of Anti-CAA protests mainly attended by Muslim women and children at Shaheen Bagh and their following sit-in at the Jaffarabad Metro Station which irked BJP leaders like Kapil Mishra. Kapil Mishra was seen leading a mob in a widely-circulated video, flanked by a senior police officer, giving the Delhi Police an ultimatum to clear roads of people peacefully protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, failing which his supporters would take up the task. While protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act have been cited as a provocation, the sequence of events points to the fact that violence erupted only after the BJP leader addressed his supporters near the Jaffarabad metro station. In the charge sheet, the Delhi police have named high-profile activists as allegedly playing a role in inciting the violence. Harsh Mander, who fought to bring justice to victims of majoritarian violence during Gujarat pogrom, was named in the charge sheet for instigating violence in a speech that called for non-violence while Kapil Mishra who, in police presence, said his supporters would clear the roads themselves, is conspicuously missing from the charge sheet. Activist Umar Khlaid is alleged to have been part of a meeting that planned a “big blast” in Delhi to coincide with Trump’s visit to shame India internationally. The Delhi Police claim the meeting took place on January 8 but the news of Trump’s visit was only made public at least 5 days later.
A doctor, who treated victims of Delhi violence and approached the Delhi High Court to move critical patients to the nearest hospital after police stopped him, has been named in the charge sheet.
In another charge sheet, 12 Muslim men have been charged with the murder of a Hindu worker of a Delhi confectionary. The Police have produced their statements wherein nine of them appear to have made identical statements, with entire paragraphs repeated ad verbatim by all the nine accused, as if recited in unison. For instance, all nine accused, thought they would be “evicted from the country”, that “Hindus were pelting stones”, that all of them got “carried away by what the crowd was telling them” and they needed to show “the strength of the Muslims”. The statements only differed in that each of the accused carried a different weapon. One carried a “wodden balla”, the other carried an “irod rod” while another carried a “stick”. This latest charge sheet has come under severe scrutiny of the media who have raised many questions on the probity of the investigation.
The arrest of Pinjra Tod activists, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, jailed for conspiracy and booked under the stringent UAPA, has been substantiated on the evidence of another accused – Shahrukh Pathan, 24, who has denied knowing the women and is unaware of the feminist collective’s existence. Shahrukh who was almost blinded in the riots said he was made to sign a statement he could not read.
The Delhi Police have been widely accused of being spectators, ignoring complaints against Hindu attackers, inflating charges against Muslims and filing cases against dissenters and complainants. Doubts appear as to whether the Delhi Riots will go down as another chapter in history where justice became the victim of a partisan administration.