3 acquitted in Delhi riots case: Evidence exploited, probe shoddy, says court | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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3 acquitted in Delhi riots case: Evidence exploited, probe shoddy, says court

By, New Delhi
Aug 19, 2023 04:54 AM IST

The court said that the incident was not properly or completely investigated, and the charge sheet was filed in a “predetermined” and “mechanical manner”

A local court slammed the Delhi Police for manipulating evidence without actually investigating a case related to the February 2020 north-east Delhi riots while acquitting three accused persons.

The case pertains to the 2020 north-east Delhi riots. (HT Archive)
The case pertains to the 2020 north-east Delhi riots. (HT Archive)

“Instead of having grave suspicion against the accused persons for their involvement in the alleged incidents...I have suspicion for the IO (investigating officer) having manipulated the evidence in the case, without actually investigating the reported incidents properly,” said additional sessions judge Pulastya Pramachala in an order on Wednesday discharging the three accused — Akil Ahmed, Raheesh Khan and Irshad.

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Read here: Delhi riots: Court orders daily hearings in conspiracy case

At least 53 people died and about 700 were injured during communal riots in north-east Delhi triggered after clashes between pro and anti-CAA/NRC protesters.

The case dates to February, 2020, when a mob raised slogans, vandalised, and torched vehicles parked inside Victoria Public School on Wazirabad Road. On February 25, an unidentified man called the Dayalpur police station and said that a mob had set vehicles parked inside the school on fire that day, after which the police registered a complaint on February 28.

Over the following days, the police received four other complaints.

In a complaint on February 27, Farooq Ahmad said that rioters vandalised and torched two buses parked outside the school, and three cars inside, on the intervening night of February 24 and 25. On February 29 and March 2, Nadeem Farooq and Shahbaz Malik filed separate complaints that a mob vandalised their vehicles in the school on the intervening night of February 24 and 25.

Another complainant, Jai Shankar Sharma, said unidentified people threw petrol bombs into his shop on the intervening night of February 24 and 25, and torched 10-15 motorcycles and scooters.

The court noted that the investigating officer clubbed the four complaints with the anonymous one reported on February 25, saying it was done in an illegal manner.

The police conducted an investigation and arrested the accused, Ahmed, Khan, and Irshad, in the case.

A charge sheet in the case was filed on July 14, 2020, followed by a first supplementary charge sheet on November 8, 2021, and a second on February 16, 2023, the court noted.

In his order, judge Pramachala said that until the court began raising questions about the date and time of the incidents that were clubbed together, the investigating officer maintained that the incidents took place on the intervening night of February 24 and 25. According to the IO, and the first and supplementary charge sheet, all incidents except for one occurred on the intervening night of February 24 and 25.

However, after Ahmed filed a discharge application, the officer reviewed the evidence, and without seeking the court’s permission, recorded fresh statements of all four complainants, the judge observed.

In their fresh statements, the complainants, Farooq Ahmad, Nadeem Farooq, Shahbaz Malik, and Jai Shankar Sharma, told the IO that they had given incorrect date and time of the alleged incidents in their initial complaints because they were in shock and suffering trauma at the time. They changed their statements and told the investigating officer that the incidents mentioned in their complaints occurred on February 25, not on the intervening night of February 24 and 25.

The court noted in its order, “It was a rare kind of coincidence that all these different complainants suffered the same kind of problem, namely shock/trauma for reporting incorrect date and time in their complaints and realising such trauma after around three years from making their respective complaints, to give a changed version of the date and time of the alleged incidents.”

“In the present case, there was no such reporting to police at the time of clubbing above mentioned complaints in the present case that the same mob had been indulging in vandalism and arson since the intervening night of 24 / 25.02.2020 until the time of information recorded vide DD No.14-A on 25.02.2020 at 9.50am,” the court noted.

The judge observed that the investigating officer had failed to establish the presence of the accused persons in the riotous mob during each of the incidents probed in the case, adding, “This order of discharge is being passed on account of realising that the incidents were not properly investigated and that the charge sheets were filed in a predetermined and mechanical manner, with subsequent actions to only cover up the initial wrong actions.”

The court also observed that the IO ignored the observations in the rukka and the complainants’ initial statements that mobs were raising slogans in support and opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.

Read here: Delhi riots case: Umar’s bail may prejudice depositions, say police

“It is critical to understand that they were two distinct rival mobs. The IOs remained silent on which incident was caused by which mob. If a riotous mob caused several incidents in and around Victoria Public School, the IO’s job was to determine the composition of such a mob during each incident. If a person ceases to be a member of an unlawful assembly, he cannot be held liable for any act done by that mob in the absence of such person,” the court said in its decision to discharge the accused.

The court thus discharged the three accused and referred the matter back to the Delhi Police for further investigation and action on the complaints under the law to bring them to their logical and legal conclusion.

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