‘Repeated incitement, planned rioting’: Minorities body files report on N-E riots
Repeated incitement to violence, planned and organised rioting by armed mobs, targeting of religious places, and multiple incidents of police inaction – these are some of the findings of a committee appointed by the Delhi Minorities Commission to probe the northeast Delhi riots in February. At least 53 persons died and 400 were injured in the riots that rocked the district.
The committee, headed by Supreme Court advocate-on-record MR Shamshad, submitted its 130-page report to lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia , other Delhi government ministers and speaker of the Delhi legislative assembly on Wednesday.
The report has been based on individual victim testimonies and physical surveys of damage to religious sites.
The committee said that in the Delhi election campaign between December 2019 and February 2020,multiple speeches delivered by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders such as Kapil Mishra tried to incite the people against anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protesters and called for forceful removal of protesters from the Jafrabad area.
Mishra, who delivered one of his speeches on February 23, denied allegations. He told HT earlier that even legal experts said there was nothing wrong in what he said that day. “What I said is captured in video, and everyone has seen that video (on social media),” he said.
Referring to local politicians, student activists and some leaders of anti-CAA protesters who were arrested, he had said: “The truth of Delhi riots is out; how long they have planned, their funding and why they especially chose the days of [US President] Donald Trump’s visit [in February-end]; everything is exposed already.”
The report said the violence was not spontaneous and had been planned. It said armed mobs selectively targeted Muslim individuals and properties while shouting slogans.
“The attacks were targeted to the extent that in instances where the owners were Hindus but the properties had been rented to Muslims, the buildings were spared but the moveable properties were looted or burned outside the premises,” the report said.
Eleven mosques, five madrasas, one shrine and one graveyard were attacked and damaged in the violence, the report said, adding: “Non-Muslim places of worship in Muslim majority areas remained untouched and were guarded by Muslims neighbours during the riots.”
“Multiple testimonies collected by the Fact-Finding Committee recount reports of police inaction even as violence unfolded before them, or of police not arriving despite repeated calls on the emergency call number. Testimonies also suggest how police were patrolling the area but when asked for help, they refused saying they had no orders to act,” the report said.
Citing multiple testimonies, the committee noted that first information reports (FIRs) had either been delayed or had not been acted upon and “in some cases police were complicit and abetted the attacks” or “police merely stood as onlookers while the mobs engaged in looting, burning and violence.”
Delhi Police said the department had not received a copy of the report, but had been doing a “fair and professional” investigation of all the 752 FIRs filed in connection with the communal violence.
“We started a designated helpline and put advertisements on various platforms, urging people to come forward and file their complaints. As a result 752 cases were registered, mostly on the complaints of people from the minority community. Of them 372 have been solved and more than 200 have been charge sheeted. A total of 1,470 people have been arrested so far. We are still open to receive complaints related to the riots. A special court has been created and special prosecutors have been appointed to expedite the trial of the cases. A claims commissioner has also been appointed for assessing the damage to property in the riots and making rioters compensate the damages,” said Delhi Police spokesperson Anil Mittal.
The report said Muslim women were attacked based on their religious identity and threats of sexual violence were also made against them.
The report asked the government to form a five-member independent committee to ensure proper registration of FIRs, probe the “complicity and abdication of duty by Delhi Police”, make sure that compensation is properly distributed.
“We will study this report and if there are any corrective measures that need to be taken, we will absolutely do that,” a Delhi government spokesperson said.