Violence in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri ‘pre-planned’, say police
The Delhi Police, in its chargesheet, said that the tensions created after the north-east Delhi riots were aggravated after the clashes on Ram Navmi in different parts of the country and led to violence in the city's north-west locality.
New Delhi: The April 16 communal violence in Jahangirpuri was not “spontaneous”, but part of a “larger conspiracy” and in continuation of the “protests against CAA and NRC of 2019 and 2020 in Shaheen Bagh and the north-east Delhi riots of February 2020, the Delhi Police has said in a charge sheet filed in the case.
The police said that the tensions created after the north-east Delhi riots were aggravated after the clashes on Ram Navmi in different parts of the country and led to violence in the north-west locality.
According to officers aware of the details, the police have filed a 2,063-page charge sheet in the Rohini district court. They said the crime branch has named people – 30 Muslims and seven Hindus – in the charge sheet.
The investigation in the case was transferred to the crime banch from the local Jahangirpuri police station on April 18, two days after clashes broke out between Hindus and Muslims during a procession being taken out on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti. As the procession moved through Jahangirpuri’s C-Block, a scuffle broke out and it soon escalated into stone pelting and clashes injuring which a few policemen and a resident suffered injuries.
“Our investigation and the evidence that we have in the form of electronic material, digital chats and financial transactions have indicated that the violence in Jahangirpuri was not spontaneously triggered by the Hanuman Jayanti procession, but was planned much before and was part of a larger conspiracy, which is still being probed. The violence had links with similar violence or protests witnessed in Delhi and other parts of the country between 2019 and 2020 over the Citizen (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC),” said an officer who is aware of the charge sheet details.
According to the charge sheet, the police said they used the face recognition system (FRS) to identify and nab at least 16 suspects, of the total 37 who have been arrested in connection with the violence. The police also scanned footage from CCTV cameras and mobile videos that went viral on the Internet after the clashes. The FRS enables the police to run facial scans of suspects with their database of over 50,000 criminals.
Of the 37 people named in the charge sheet, at least four arrested Muslim men -- Mohammad Ansar, Sheikh Salim alias Salim Chikna, Imam Sheikh alias Sonu and Tabrez Khan -- have been named as the “prime conspirators”, said a crime branch officer, and added that eight suspects are still absconding and at least two of them were suspected to part of the conspiracy.
“Their names may be added to the supplementary charge sheet that the crime branch would submit after concluding their probe. Non-bailable warrants (NBWs) and other criminal procedures against the absconders have already been initiated,” the crime branch officer said.
According to the charge sheet, those arrested have been booked for 13 offences, including rioting, arson, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy. Initially, the case was registered under 10 sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 27 of the Arms Act (use of arms). Three more sections of the IPC, including criminal conspiracy and common intention, were added to the first information report (FIR) in addition to section 25 of the Arms Act, to investigate the source through which firearms used during the violence were procured.
The crime branch officer said investigators have seized nine firearms, five cartridges, two used bullet shells, nine swords and clothes of 11 arrested persons that they wore at the time of the violence. Twenty-one mobile phones were also seized. A total of 13 teams were formed for verifying background details of the accused persons, dump data, technical (FRS) analysis, collection of viral videos and CCTV footage, arresting the suspects, and checking the financial aspects and the conspiracy angle.
According to charge sheet, the police retrieved footage from 28 CCTV cameras installed by the Public Works Department (PWD) around Kushal Cinema Road and 30 CCTV installed around C-block of Jahangirpuri where the violence took place. Also, 34 viral videos and 56 vidoes from electronic media were collected. The footage and video clips were analysed to identify people involved in the riots.
“Other than the electronic and manual evidence, we also examined 132 witnesses that include 85 police personnel and 47 public persons, doctors and others. The preliminary investigation report (PIR) against the two minors apprehended in the case has already been filed before the Juvenile Justice Board,” said a senior crime branch officer associated with the case.
The eight absconding suspects were identified as Sanwar Kalia, Saddam Khan, Salman alias Suleman, Ashanoor and his father Ishrafil, Jahangir, Hasmat aka Asmat and Sheikh Sikander, all from Jahangirpuri.
Ansar, one of the alleged key conspirators, was the first to be arrested in the case on April 17, a day after the violence. He is among the five alleged accused against whom the Delhi Police slapped the stringent National Security Act (NSA).
A case under the prevention of money laundering was also registered by the enforcement directorate (ED) against Ansar to look into his financial dealings and investigate sources of his properties.
The other alleged key conspirator, Salim Chinka, has been accused by the police of being one of the most violent rioters. He has also been booked under the NSA. He was previously involved in an armed robbery case. The alleged accused Sonu is the one whose video of opening fire during the riots was widely shared on social media, police said,while alleged accused Tebrez took part in a “peace committee” to deflect attention from him.